Sometimes, I’m ashamed of my race.
I’ve heard tales of publicists pitching writers about an artist who the writer had literally covered the month before, publicists sending out mass e mails to any writer they can find on a publication’s website (one classical journalist told me she was contacted about a local football game), and publicists asking journalists if they had ever written about the artist he/she was pitching. I mean, if you don’t have your own artist’s press kit in front of you, let’s do some brisk Googling; let’s not go ahead and ask the journalist. And who can forget the NYC venue that misspelled its own name in a press release, a story I’ve mentioned before. One journalist told me that he got a thank-you note from a publicist for his “kind words”, for a review of a performance he had canned; did she even read the review? I’m sure I’ve made these mistakes – and many, many others – myself, so I’m not throwing stones; just, sympathizing with our comrades in the press.
Here’s an e mail from a close-to-top symphony orchestra that a journalist friend received and sent me this morning:
Whether your publication is interested in concert and event coverage, musician, board and philanthropic profiles, education and outreach or society news, I hope you will consider utilizing the X Symphony Orchestra as a source of current up-to-the-minute news and features.
No pitch? Just a quick, “Keep us in mind!” for good measure? Seriously? “What shall I have my people write about today,” muses Joe Editor, “I know! That symphony orchestra press person told me they had concert and society news, should I need it…”
But then I sometimes feel bad for my own kind as well. Both a manager friend and I were fairly-to-moderately appalled to receive a mass e mail from the editor of a well-known music magazine yesterday:
If you’ve heard any good stories, or know of any good projects or new happenings, please let me know.
Oh sure, I heard a good one the other day: The Pope walks into a bar…
Are publicists and editors really so busy that neither party can do their homework? The levels of vagueness on both the symphony PR person and the magazine editor’s parts represents a total lack of respect for the receiver of the pitch: my time is more valuable than your time, you do the research. The magazine editor could have, at the very least, customized her e mails for record labels, and then management, and then publicists, and the symphony could have included a list of concerts or some general information about their (preferably new) education programs and philanthropy efforts. It’s great that your news is up-to-the-minute, but…what is it?
These two examples from the last 24 hours have spurred me to be overly specific in my own pitches going forward. “You last reviewed The King’s Singers’ performance of X composers in Y year at Z venue. This is what they’ve been up to since then. This is what they are doing now. Here are some angles you can bring to your editor”, etc. etc.. Yes, we’re all very busy, but let’s step back and think about what we’re e mailing before we click send. We’d all give pitches a little more thought if we had to handwrite them and drag ourselves over to a fax machine, or pick up the phone and say what we had to say on the spot, so why not give the same attention – or any attention at all – to e pitches?