Pitch-Optimized Gmail

As someone who’s endured more than his share of misguided PR pitches,e.g., think inane dot-com come-ons, The New York Times‘s intrepid NY-based tech reporter and “Bits” blogger Saul Hansell definitely deserves a medal for his fortitude.

It’s a wonder to me that he still works with so many PR people, let alone has the time to offer up pointers on how best to engage him with story pitches. Today on his blog, Saul proposed the notion of “SEO for Gmail.”

Here’s his response to an e-mailed story pitch for a widget company:

“Keep me posted on what these folks are up to, with an occasional e-mail. Don’t worry if I don’t respond. The way my life seems to work, suddenly something happens, and then I’ll be interested in, say widgets. I’ll remember you sent me something on a cool widget company, search my e-mail and get on the phone.”

One of the biggest obstacles PR pros face can be found in the nebulous prose they use to make their editorial case. Saul cites this pitch:

Hope you’re well. I’d like to introduce you to xxxx , a new, place-based out-of-home digital network that delivers relevant, localized media within the rhythm of consumers’ daily rituals, like afternoon coffee or sandwiches at lunch.

Geesh. Any pitch that starts off with “hope you’re well” is, in my book, the kiss of death. Here’s Saul’s take:

It turns out that the company puts video billboards in delis. My hope is that if people realize that a reporter is much more likely to search for “video billboard” than “place-based out-of-home digital network” this may be an incentive for PR people to brush up on their English a bit.

Amen. This blogger would be lost without the ability to search GMail, which is now using 5673 MB (78%) of the allotted 7260 MB of free space.

It’s probably also worth noting that the second edition of Mike Moran‘s best-selling book Search Engine Marketing Inc. just came out. Hint.