Avoid Yankee Swapping and take the time instead

According to an old idiom, death and taxes are the only two certainties in this world, but I think it’s safe to say we can add one more to that list — CES. The massive consumer electronics expo has become such a fixture that the schedule is like clockwork — Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year and then CES. It makes me think of all of the opening around this time of season. We open our wallets for gifts and donations, we hold the store doors open for people carrying tons of shopping bags, maybe we’re even opening our pants a bit because we ate too much.

There is one thing not getting opened that much though — PR pitches, and it reminds me of the crucial questions I consider before hitting “send” to a reporter.

I’m not saying that PR pitches are akin to gifts for reporters, and anyone can spend a day following journalists on Twitter to learn that the vast majority are more like coal in their inboxes. Here are just a few examples:

https://twitter.com/imkialikethecar/status/599250278777528320?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

https://twitter.com/KimZetter/status/598211155971158016?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

https://twitter.com/julpepitone/status/633666166628741120

However, relationships are relationships, whether you’re buying a gift for a loved one or trying to get the attention of a new reporter. When buying a gift for a loved one, we often spend a ton of time seeking the perfect gift for that person and that relationship becomes stronger when this comes to fruition. Unfortunately all of the reporter Twitter-griping is testament to the notion that this effort is not put into the ideas and sources that are sent to them.

In the gift analogy, it’s as if they’re being sent something for a typical office Yankee swap gift that’s meant for the masses. The level of care and attention that is put into the ideal gift for a friend or family member is the same type of research and reading that we as PR professionals should put into the ideas and sources that we send to reporters.

Publicists are under a tremendous amount of pressure to get results that usually take the form of their client or company getting coverage in significant media outlets. Often times it is this strong demand that forces us to act without thinking and try to cast as wide of a net as possible in the hopes that a reporter will bite on a given pitch. Instead of “spraying and praying” a pitch works, the time should be taken to sincerely build a relationship with that reporter and perhaps send one or two researched ideas to reporters. And, before sending something to a reporter, we should be asking ourselves a crucial question — if I were this person, would I truly want this information? Hit send on that email if this is honestly the case, but otherwise think twice before doing so.

Ideally, taking this approach should eliminate some of the negative sentiment that I often see reporters rightfully complain about on Twitter. After all, it is not their job to open every PR email, respond to it, take call, etc.. Instead, it’s the PR professional’s job to successfully get in front of that reporter with a compelling source or idea, and putting in the effort to achieve this can truly yield the gift of a strong relationship.