Not to offend anyone who was caught in the crossfire of Wired’s Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson’s backlash recently, but one of the most important rules of media relations is knowing your target journalist and tailoring your message to their outlet/beat.
Anderson recently posted the email addresses of anyone who had emailed him as editor-in-chief rather than trying to find the correct beat writer or editor at Wired to contact. Many of the offenders had, unfortunately, purchased his email address from a list service of people to contact for their industry or freelance service–which is unfortunate considering his email is publicly available. It is horrible that list services charge just to compile a list for you.
It’s part of a growing problem in the industry that journalists are getting more and more mail since they don’t have what Godin describes as the “friction” of adding a stamp. An email is free to send and requires no commitment other than one click of the Send button, so spammers and ill-advised public relations professionals can send hundreds of emails and find themselves on the naughty list of many an editor.
The moral of the story: Don’t be lazy!
While Chris Anderson certainly went a little extreme by posting the email addresses and may have puzzled many PR professionals while being championed by journalists, the easiest way to avoid getting on anyone’s bad side is to do your homework and develop your own mailing lists from scratch.
Having a personal relationship is the best way to have any sort of profitable connection with a journalist. Even if your first email message is just an introduction about your company/business and a request to keep them in the loop, that is a better email to send their way than including them in a blanket pitch that may or may not be directed to the right person. Irresponsibility damages the relationship journalists have with public relations professionals–and hurts public relations as an industry.
If you can avoid it, try not to send out anything besides a press release update to a mass mailing list. Personal emails make a much better impression and can be tailored for each individual outlet and journalist based on your relationship. The most successful PR professionals are able to use their relationships and connection with journalists to keep them informed–no spin required.
Keep that in mind when you are starting up a new business or developing a new media list for a client. Doing your homework pays off far greater than trying to contact as many journalists as possible with little personal touch.