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.
Matt Craven is the former editor & publisher of The Blog Herald. Currently, Matt is the co-founder of Bryghtpath LLC, a consulting practice located in Woodbury, Minnesota. Matt's presently looking for new blogging gigs. Ping him at matt (at) bryghtpath dot com. You can follow him on Twitter.