I missed this post from Marc Myers back in May. As a sometimes music reviewer, I think he's right on
the money. If Brenda Nelson-Strauss, David Lewis and other frequent music-reviewers among us wish to
comment, I'm very interested in their thoughts on the topic.
Marc's comments apply in general to the PR trade. From my position as a business journalist, I can
tell you that I get dozens of PR e-mails (and faxes) every day and a very small percentage of them
get anything resembling attention because they are either poorly written, have a useless or dumb
subject line and/or are irrelevant to my publication, which SINCE 1982 has covered nothing but the
non-alcoholic beverage business (and yet every hack with a new microbrewery or designer whiskey
client seems to be too lazy to find that out).
To listmembers who use PR firms, you might want to think on this topic and consider if you're
getting any value for the fees you are paying them. I definitely think such "measures of
performance" as how many people are contacted (ie how much spaghetti was thrown up on the wall) are
not valuable to the client. Neither is a boast, which I heard from a PR person at one of our
conferences, that "I have a great e-mail list because we have only a 5% bounce-back rate." So what
if you know a lot of current e-mail addresses, do any of those people want to hear from you or read
what you've sent? Another one I heard, a PR person pitching an executive, "we always follow up with
a phone call." Yes, I get those calls and they are even more annoying than irrelevant mis-targeted
e-mails. Suffice to say it is a strain to remain polite when being bothered by a time-wasting phone
call to further pitch an irrelevant product or topic that was already pestering me in my inbox. All
could be avoided by the kind of better preparation, and better knowledge of various media outlets
and their deadlines/editorial flows, etc that Marc Myers describes. Such work is the mark of a
professional, and thus most PR people are hacks and not professionals.
The point Marc makes about pitching MUSIC and then making it difficult or non-obvious how the HEAR
THE MUSIC is the best of his points, in my opinion, followed closely by timing PR blasts too close
before or after the fact vis-a-vis the album's release date.
-- Tom Fine