Marshall Kirkpatrick outlines the best ways for PR firms to pitch Read Write Web – but it’s really a manifesto for pitching bloggers tech stories

Filed as Features, News on April 18, 2008 10:49 am

I’ve been a long-time reader of Read Write Web (RWW) – even back in the day when it was just Richard publishing fantastic tech news and insights from his vantage point in New Zealand. It’s become an even better blog since he’s added writers like Marshall Kirkpatrick and Sarah Perez. In a post today, Marshall shares some tips about how PR firms can pitch stories to RWW:

Here at ReadWriteWeb we get piles and piles of pitches for coverage from companies all day long and they almost always come in by email. You’ll notice that only a tiny percentage of those pitches result in write-ups here. How can you increase your chances of getting written about here or on other tech blogs? In this post we’ll discuss five ways that companies often try and fail to get our attention and one way that almost always works.

He goes on to outline the ways that they don’t want to be contacted: Direct email, Twitter, Instant Messaging, Phone Calls, & Facebook.

The one right way? RSS Feeds.

In particular, Marshall asks why more PR firms aren’t using technologies like RSS – and asks why they aren’t sharing client feeds via OPML:

PR people, please send us the RSS feeds of your clients’ blogs and news releases.

The information that comes through these feeds is obviously public and there’s no embargo – but if we didn’t see something interesting in an embargoed email then we’ll see it in RSS. Likewise, many companies blog about things that they might not consider cause for a press release but that we definitely want to write about.

The full fire-hose of company news and updates for us to pick out what’s interesting, someplace outside of our email inboxes, free of dreadful press release rhetoric (skip to the second paragraph where details usually are, then skip past any executive quotes and hope there are readable details somewhere) – that sounds like a dream come true. I know that’s where I get most of the stories I write about, not from email pitches. Send both, but company feeds are likely to be looked at more closely.

Amen Marshall, amen. I would kill for OPML files such as this from PR firms covering the areas that I’m interested in writing about – here and elsewhere.

Some perspective on how bad this problem can be – even for publications like The Blog Herald – which is significantly smaller than RWW, by the way.

I was the editor of The Blog Herald from February 2006 when we acquired the site through the end of November 2006 when we sold the site to Splashpress Media. During that time we had an email address setup for news tips at tips at blogmedia dot biz – and I actively encouraged PR firms to email us press releases – but stated that we preferred RSS information.

To this day – almost eighteen month after leaving the editor position here, we still get stories pitched to us at that email address – often on topics that aren’t in any way, shape, or form what we’re interested in blogging about. I never once was sent a RSS feed or an OPML file. And I can’t remember a single story that we ran based on an email pitch from a PR firm – the quality was extraordinarily poor.

I’m not a PR expert – but if I was running a PR firm today – I’d at least find a way to embrace the not-quite-so-new-now technology like RSS and OPML. I’d find a way to use twitter to contact and interact authentically with newsmakers like Marshall and others.. and I’d certainly stop relying on methods that made the industry successful in the past (email, fax, etc) and learn to move with the times.

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  1. By Tony Hung posted on April 18, 2008 at 11:21 am
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    Yeah, its a great idea. It presupposes that PR blogs are savvy enough — and secure enough — with the idea of an RSS feed.

    With respect to the latter, what I mean is that they’re “happy” enough with being able to track “subscribers” (presumably through feedburner) knowing that the numbers will likely be abysmally low.

    With email at least you can hide behind the unknown metric of who actually opens it / is engaged by it to actually do something with the release.

    cheers

    t @ dji

    Reply

  2. By Justin Kistner posted on April 18, 2008 at 11:24 am
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    Do we need to submit the Voce OPML, or did you already grab the link on Marshall’s post? :)

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  3. By Matt Craven posted on April 18, 2008 at 11:51 am
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    Maybe this is the business opportunity that I haven’t thought about – a web savvy PR firm.

    God knows I’ve written enough and consulted enough in terms of helping companies tell their stories through blogs – maybe this is the direction I should take my life :)

    Matt

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  4. By Matt Craven posted on April 18, 2008 at 11:59 am
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    Justin – thanks for the response. I did grab the link from Marshall’s post ;)

    Matt

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  5. By Jeremy Toeman posted on April 18, 2008 at 2:12 pm
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    Matt – I think we’ve got a fairly “2.0-savvy” firm. As does Brian Solis… :)

    We just created a feed here: http://www.stagetwoconsulting.com/how-to-offering-client-news-feeds-82/

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  6. By Matt Craven posted on April 18, 2008 at 9:45 pm
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    Jeremy – thanks for the comment, I did check out your post and subscribed to your feeds :)

    Glad to see that there are a couple firms out there that get it!
    m

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  7. By Chris Clarke posted on April 21, 2008 at 1:26 pm
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    There are plenty of tech-savvy PR firms out there. I don’t know why more firms don’t do this either. Not just for bloggers, but journalists are certainly using RSS and finding stories through blogs.

    Reply

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