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Hot News Item Serves as Reminder about PR Principles

Robin WilliamsThe All Points PR team recently took a few minutes to discuss an article that The Washington Post reporter Alyssa Rosenberg filed on the “worst public relations pitches pegged to Robin William’s death.” Among many points Alyssa makes in the article, her story looks at the offensive nature of PR professionals’ attempt to take advantage of Robin Williams’ death to get their clients into the news cycle surrounding this story.

It’s a fantastic piece.

First, it provides a great perspective from the viewpoint of the members of the media All Points PR is often pitching.

Second, it hits on many of the points we often talk about relating to how we approach our work, including:

  • Persistence – Alyssa provides great details on the number of PR professionals compared to the number of journalists and how that ratio is increasingly becoming greater (weighted heavier on the PR professionals’ side)
  • Using multiple sources in a pitch to make it less self-serving/biased
  • Be specific with your pitch; relate it to case studies or specific examples; don’t just use simple broad statements that are obvious, known facts to journalists and everyone else; in your pitch you should be using eye-opening stats, facts, descriptions
  • Cut through the clutter with strong subject lines; subject lines that will grab the attention of the media (reporters, bloggers, producers, assignment editors, etc.) that we are pitching; subject lines cannot be Plain Jane

Last, the story brings up the point of pitching the media when tragedy strikes. There is a common sense patience and timing sense that we need to have in our minds. Sure the death of Robin Williams was very heavily covered, but pitching the press hours, even a few days after a celebrity’s suicide isn’t right. In these cases, when you have a relevant pitch related to the compelling news event, yet the nation or even the world is saddened or taken by surprise with unfortunate circumstances, it is best to wait a few weeks and let the world/nation grieve.

The news media/bloggers will find your pitch more tasteful if it looks like more thoughtfulness was put into it.

We talk about clinging to the news of the day, and most news of the day matters are not sad like this Robin Williams matter. So, as we work our clients into trending topics, we are always mindful of the public’s sentiment, and exercise appropriateness if it is an emotional matter that elicits sadness.


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