The Problem with Tech Media Relations as Illustrated by a Single Tweet

A journalist's job is not to promote a given company.

Our new weekly series Pitch, Please builds on a point of painfully common knowledge among PR professionals: journalists often respond negatively to pitches.

Beyond that, though, we’d like to highlight one such response shared this morning by Mike Isaac of The New York Times to a pitch from someone repping a tech company which just updated its product:

This is a perfect illustration of what may be the most common pitching mistake: a misunderstanding of the relationship between the pitcher and the pitchee.

The person who sent this request (key word “request”) to Isaac frames the hopeful placement as a sort of favor that he should do for the benefit of both the company being promoted and the people who use its products.

That’s an odd request given the fact that Isaac’s job is not to “help” startups but to report on news and trends within the tech industry. The subseqent back-and-forth between him, several fellow journalists, and Carolyn Penner (head of PR for Vine) is definitely worth a read.

Kevin Roose of Fusion, for example, blames the practice on the “we support startups” policies of certain maybe-named publications:

Obviously, it goes without saying that experienced PR professionals understand the nuances of the relationship between themselves and someone like Isaac…and the pitch in question may well have come from a startup’s founder rather than a member of its PR team.

Let’s hope that’s the case, anyway. Otherwise it’s the equivalent of asking him to tweet about a product update.