Why I'm advising PandaPitch and how we're going to end PR spam
The minute PandaPitch Co-Founder and CEO Eytan Morgernstern showed me a very early mock up of the platform last year, I knew I was in.
Eytan and his co-founder Natanel Young were attempting to solve a problem I knew too well.
When I started my PR career in 2005, "pitching reporters" mostly meant cold calling journalists I had no relationship with, copying and pasting an e-mail to them, and calling them a second time to "follow up." 2005 is also just about when reporters stopped answering calls. And when they did, they were not too happy to hear my voice.
What's worse, each press release went out to thousands and thousands of "contacts," exported from a database (which wasn't always updated).
We used excel spreadsheets and the notorious Mail Merge feature to blast thousands of reporters with the same exact e-mail pitch. Statistically, we would get a few people interested, and some would end up writing about our clients. So we kept doing it.
But, in retrospect, we were part of a movement that was giving a very bad name for PR; Burning bridges instead of building relationships.
Because good PR is about seeing reporters as people and building relationships with them. It's about forging real bonds and adding deep value on a consistent basis.
Sure, 14 years later, things have changed. Despite the headline, it's not fair to call PR spam. Reputable PR firms simply do not "spam" any more. Mail merge, in most places, is a thing of the past.
However, PR folks are under pressure to deliver results and don't always take the time to do the custom research necessary and write quality, targeted pitches.
While reporters rely on PR and many do value the role of PR in the process of getting story ideas and information, most -- especially tech reporters -- are simply fed up.
And who can blame them? Time and time again they receive pitches that are irrelevant, unclear, misdirected, and not personalized.
And the biggest problem? Even the best pitches are lost in reporter inboxes, which are bursting at the seams.
And that's not good for anyone.
The Jerusalem-based (another reason I joined) startup will soon be launching a Beta version of a platform that facilitates better communication between journalists and PR professionals by encouraging quality pitching and preventing PR spam.
The platform enables PR professionals to customize each pitch and align expectations about things such as the real timeline for coverage or expected pitch outcomes.
Reporters take back control of when they are pitched - the platform consolidate all pitches in one place and allows them to easily access them on their own time and respond to none, some, or all. There are lots of exciting and useful features that I know PR pros and reporters will love. I believe the company will roll these out gradually throughout 2019, largely based on feedback.
As a reformed PR spammer and as a Forbes and VB contributor who gets his share of PR spam, I am super excited about this PandaPitch. I'm sure it will be embraced quickly by reporters, editors, PR firms, and brands.
Over time, it will strengthen the communications between those who are already talking and maybe bring closer together those who have completely lost trust. And if media and PR come closer together, the result will be better news.
As an member of PandaPitch's Board of Advisors, I will provide product and marketing advice, help form the advisory board, and introduce the startup to members of the media and PR professionals.
If you'd like to be part of a select group of PandaPitch Beta testers (from the PR or media side), please let me know ASAP. Space is quite limited.