6 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Rely on Automated Pitching


By Patrick Coffee Comment


We have a confession to make, readers: we get the pitching challenge because we’ve done it ourselves. We know that many firms emphasize quantity over quality despite all evidence to the contrary, and we understand that the pressure to score press often overwhelms basic logic — especially when employers hand out performance bonuses.

So yes: mass pitching is part of the game.

However, we would like to take a moment to warn those about to send pitches to all 324 contacts on a given “oh sh*t we’re f*cked” mailing list: please stop for a moment and reconsider.

Here, from our perspective, are six good reasons why.

1. Multiple pitches to the same source

CLONESWe understand that our masthead may be a little less clear than some, but if you click on our names you’ll find our current emails. It’s pretty easy.

That said, we can’t tell you how often we get pitches sent to our editor, the larger blog and our contributor Nancy Lazarus either simultaneously or several minutes apart. In the most egregious cases, our managing editor at Mediabistro forwards us the same damned pitch directly afterward.

This happens even more often on our sister site, AgencySpy.

In a way, we get it: you want to make sure someone sees your email. Three questions, though: has Nancy ever responded to you directly from prnewser@mediabistro.com? Has she ever posted on a company reaching its Kickstarter goals? Do you need to send three emails to the same place?

No, no and no.

2. Inaccurate contact info

wrongEverybody makes mistakes, right? But again — and we feel like we’re repeating ourselves here — we still get at least five pitches a week directed toward our co-founder Jason Chupick, who hasn’t officially been a contributor since 2010.

And they’re not sent to his personal email, either. We get three emails sent to the same address with different names in their headers!

If that’s not a sign of the limitations of automation, then we don’t know what is. We realize that we’re just a humble trade blog, but this tells us that you don’t really give a sh*t.

3. Repeated pitches

repeatingLast week we got a pitch about Kim Kardashian’s video game twice within a thirty-minute span. We took the time to respond not because we were interested but because we wanted our poor contact to know that his automated service was working against him.

When we received the same pitch for the third time the following day, we just threw up our hands and added the offending address to the spam folder.

(This is far from the first time that’s happened.)

4. Automated follow-ups

followingOf course follow-ups are necessary in some cases because messages do actually fall through the “cracks” in a crowded inbox from time to time. But we’re trying to remember the last time we responded to an obviously automated follow-up to a pitch and nothing comes to mind because that has never happened.

Still better than cold-call follow-ups, though.

5. Poorly targeted pitches

airball-terrible-basketball-shotsThis is the one that really kills us. Because AgencySpy somehow ended up on far too many “sites that cover advertising in its many, many varied forms” lists, a majority of pitches that we receive for that blog suffer from the square pegs/round hole conundrum.

A director who does work for your production studio got a byline on a new music video? That’s cool; post it on your Facebook page. But don’t ask us to cover it, and please don’t tell us that you’d really appreciate it if we shared it on our social networks (as a favor to you, obviously).

When you pitch a meeting/phone chat with the CEO of a “leading online personalization company” or a sweet ad tech software provider, you leave us with two options: ignore you or ask you to tell us why we should care. Guess which option we will choose…

We’re not asking you to actually spend time reading the blog because it gets a little rowdy. But a quick scan should tell you why this “story” (we put that word in quotations because no narrative or angle has been established here) would be of no interest to people who work in the creative departments of major ad agencies.

Since we sometimes try to see the best in people, we will assume that every one of these pitches was automated.

6. Lack of personalization

WhoThis is going to sound overly familiar to many of our readers, but the key word in the phrase “media relations” is relations as in “relationship”, or “the way in which two or more people or organizations regard and behave toward each other.”

It’s simple: a short sentence (no more than two or three) explaining the angle behind the story and why it’s relevant to your contact makes a world of difference.

We got a couple of pitches from the same source this week that didn’t include any text — just a Word Doc press release and a subject line. The PR didn’t even specify which blog the pitch was for.

Alternately, we received innumerable pitches that required us to read three paragraphs in order to figure out what the client’s product does.

Do we not see what’s wrong with this picture?

Seriously, though: we know from experience how frustrating it can be to spend a lot of time honing a pitch for a few particular contacts and then get no response.

But what’s worse: sending five well-crafted pitches and receiving only one response or sending five hundred and inspiring at least twenty press contacts to put your name on a list you’d rather not read?

We think we know the answer. As Ed Zitron told us earlier this month:

“Its exhausting, but if you want to be good it’s a job that requires some bloody effort.”

When you make that effort, your contacts will respect you and respond to you. Automate everything and expect nothing in return.