Robo Pitch

From today’s Twittersphere:

TechCrunch’s @robinwauters PR pitches I hate: “You have probably already seen the news that blah blah. As you’re drafting your coverage of the news, blah blah blah.”

TheNextWeb’s @alex I actually did see the news, and passed. Pitches like that mean I made the right call. Comes across as very arrogant, too.

Ad Age’s @Aerocles Hey PR Pros – RT @alex @robinwauters I like pitches from real people. Hey Alex, this is Jim from company X, can I send you what we’re up to?

David Teicher, Alex Wilhelm and Robin Wauters’ tweeted frustrations with some PR peeps struck at the heart of what has ailed the PR profession for as long as I can remember: hollow-sounding, often misinformed, canned story pitches.

Joe Ciarallo, a friend in the biz who, like me, straddles the editorial and PR sides of the media relations equation, has a term for these inauthentic PR come-ons. He calls them “robo pitches.”

This persistent problem has caused some journalists on the receiving end of these mass-produced pitch letters to go over the deep-end in outing the PRpetrators. What’s worse: the pitches not only sound inhuman, but they’re easily identifiable as having been sent to every other (competitive) journalist on the beat.

Take GMail. If you edit and re-paste your PRose into another email (for another reporter), the edited words arrive in a different font color. If you use one of the automated database companies to disseminate your pitch letters, the return address can be traced back to the sending service. And then of course there’s the use of “BCC” – a dead giveaway.

I don’t have a definitive cure for this intractable problem that sometimes sadly prevents reasonable story ideas from seeing the light of day. A little more senior supervision over the editorial output by less-seasoned members of an agency or corporate PR department might help. But then again, maybe it’s hiring pros who understand and can creatively emulate in their communication these two words: Get Real.


  1. I like using “bcc:” as well. But journalists’ spam antennae definitely go up if they are not openly alone in the “To:” box. That’s all.

  2. How does using BCC flag you? I like to have a copy of the pitches I make, which helps me with follow up, so I usually BCC myself.

  3. Peter-

    Longtime no speak.

    Honestly, there are occasions when I see nothing problematic with using the BCC option. If I have news of a non-exclusive nature that’s important and that most all of my intended recipients will want to use, no one has ever turned it down because they are on a mass email. For instance news about a gov’t official or state policy. They all know it’s going everywhere and that everyone will cover it.


  4. I’d love to find a solution. Even though I use gmail, I ALWAYS customize every pitch. The basic information doesn’t change, but the angles vary from reporter to reporter, and I make a point of addressing their specific needs.

    Short of re-typing everything manually, what can we do?

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