Meme of the week – Blacklisting Bloggers and bad PR pitches

What seems to have come to a head over the last few days is the concept of Bloggers “blacklisting” PR firms that pitch them in a way they don’t want to be pitched. Gina Trapani of LifeHacker published a wiki listing PR firms that have spammed her with pitches. Suddenly, everyone’s taking sides over how to properly pitch bloggers.

Sidenote: the history of blacklists is much more serious and a heavier topic than is being given credit in all this banter about them. They’re an attempt at keeping people from acting in a certain way due to social and societal pressure, and they’re against the spirit of what I see as social media. Blacklisting spammers is, to me, appropriate, because they’re clearly flaunting law and culture. What I see many bloggers and PR professionals ranting about it not blacklisting but a lack of transparency and accountability.

Geoff Livingston seems do be quite reasonable in his analysis of the situation.

Nasty actions like publicly outing PR professionals and firms hurt real people. Bloggers (and some reporters) often act without professional ethics or thinking about how these acts affect others. I got one thing to say back to you: Take responsibility for your words and stop harming people.

Jeremy Pepper clarifies the whole Gina Trapani story, noting it was her personal email address being spammed. He also notes that junior staff at PR firms aren’t being trained and supervised not to make these mistakes. And, in typical Jeremy humor, he has a plan worth reading.

Jason Falls of Social Media Club Louisville notes that the bloggers themsevles need to be blacklisted –

I am saying that a journalist (or a blogger for that matter) who publicly humiliates someone just trying to do their job – even poorly – or goes a step further by declaring that person’s employer on a permanent banned list is performing the adult (though not mature) equivalent of Chris Hargensen ordering up buckets of pigs blood to be dumped on Carrie White at prom.

Jason makes a very good point. Not everyone at the firm that spammed you is an outright idiot. But just as we, as bloggers shouldn’t blindly blacklist PR firms, PR firms shouldn’t blacklist journalists.

Of course, Aaron Brazell is happy to be on a blacklist, because he doesn’t want to be pitched, unless a PR pro has created “some kind of professional rapport” with him. He also notes a possible solution:

I think it’s high time that the PR community finance the creation and support of a third party broker that would maintain the authenticity, privacy, trust and relationship with the blogging comunity. I’m talking about an OpenID sort of trust-based system that includes the trust-relationship management as well as a CRM tool/plugin-in for sending communications in a standardized way. This tool would provide the recipient a means of “opt out” as well as trust-based ratings, reviews, advocacy and management.

Aaron’s solution is interesting and thought-provoking. I’d like to hear more.

Jason Kintzler over at PitchEngine discusses some ways that PR professionals can more effectively get the word out including Social Media/New Media Releases, and remembering that news distribution can be effectively done via the wire services. Pitching to people requires a different tact.

Again, I go back to transparency and accountability. Sending an email to lots of people pitching something irrelevant is timewasting and is potentially asking for someone to ‘out’ your pitch. Contacting people in the way the provide for you, being clear about who and what you represent is clearly a way to get some respect.

Finally, I’ll publically state that I’m happy to hear a PR or Blogging professional’s pitch, via my email, or via the huge “Call Me” button I keep handy on the side of my website, as long as said professional has looked at my blog enough to know what interests me. I’m also on Twitter if you want to hit me that way.

UPDATE: Seems I missed something that helped start this whole thing, in which someone from Brian Solis’ team did something wrong, and Brian made an apology and some distinctions that are quite relevant.

3 replies on “Meme of the week – Blacklisting Bloggers and bad PR pitches”

  1. I couldn't agree with you more. These blacklists won't work. There are thousands of PR firms out there, each under a great deal of pressure from their clients. Pitch blasting is also a waste of time. I often refer to my own PR colleagues as flacks. The way most of them work gives the entire industry a bad rap. Then again, the way a few bloggers act doesn't help the situation either. Both industries need more education and I think things will improve as blogging continues to grow.

  2. A blacklist, as the name implies, is a list of people or companies who have met with the disapproval of others. In the online world a blacklist refers to those people who have been marked as responsible for generating spam blogs in a very big way. Blacklists are also known as blocklists.

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