On Wednesday, I received an off-target news release. It was one of those: “Yeah! We're the agency of record for our new client!” garbage news releases.
It's great to be “thrilled” to have a new client, but keep this stuff to the advertising and PR trade pubs. Or better yet, just post it on your agency's website.
PR spam is a serious threat to the credibility of all PR people—and it’s getting really bad. I'm always encouraging my friends in the media to take action and push back. So, I decided to respond. Here is the exchange that ensued.
[Ed.’s note: We removed the name of the agency.
Here’s the first paragraph of the (poorly written) “news” release.
For your consideration:
[AGENCY X] TO REPRESENT CANADA GOOSE
New York, NY (March 9, 2011) – Canada Goose, Inc., the Canadian company, who for over 50 years has been committed to producing the best extreme weather outerwear in the world; proudly made in Canada, announced today that AGENCY X a public relations and marketing firm with offices in New York and Los Angeles, was selected as the agency of record for this iconic brand. “We’re thrilled to have AGENCY X on board. The last five years have been a time of remarkable growth for our company in United States,” said Kevin Spreekmeester, VP Global Marketing. “We believe that AGENCY X has a unique combination of New York savvy and Los Angeles savoir faire to provide the perfect public relations marketing support we need to maintain the upward momentum.”
After receiving this pitch, the following e-mail exchange took place with someone from the agency. The exchanged is reproduced below.
“Why on earth would you send me this release? You obviously have no idea what you are doing.”
“Then it would behoove you to change your details on the media search engines.”
“I write about public relations. You’ve obviously never read my blog. My search details don't include anything about wanting to read random press releases that I would not write about in A MILLION YEARS.”
“By the way, I hope the advice you give clients includes building relationships, because clearly you're terrific at that.”
“I didn't ask you for anything. You are the one who sent me a cookie cutter ‘For Your Consideration’ agency of record spam e-mail. Clearly, I could give a crap less, and your sass is not helping your case, that of your client, or your company's reputation. You do know I'm a blogger, right?”
“I have never engaged in such a correspondence with a media person, nor do I intend to. I was simply surprised by your reaction and perhaps reacted too quickly. We work with several outlets that focus on media moves and somehow your name ended up on this short list. Apologies if it clogged your inbox. There is no reason to endanger my business or the reputation of our client that spends a lot of time and resources on protecting the environment and endangered species.”
The best part of her entire pitch was buried in her hasty apology!
If she had done a little research on Twitter, she would have discovered that I sometimes tweet about water quality and the environment. If she would have done her due diligence and perhaps noted something
about my blog or even given one hint that she had followed me on Twitter, it would have been a different story.
I would have never written about Canada Goose, but at least it would have made me think that she truly researched her pitch.
This is a perfect example of “spray and pray” PR.
Have you ever done the “spray and pray”? Can you share how you found out it's not the best way to pitch? I'd love to hear your stories.
A version of this story first appeared on Claire’s blog, Public Relations Princess.