I understand what it’s like to get bad pitches; I’ve been on the receiving end of plenty. They clog up your inbox, make you feel like you have more work in front of you than you really do and generally waste your time. And, there’s the sheer anger that comes from having to deal with someone who’s stupid. It’s a pain in the ass. It sucks. So, to a certain extent, it’s no wonder that “bad pitch” blogs have arisen.
Are they punishment for shitty work … or a warning to journalists and bloggers the world over? Maybe, bad pitch blogs are nothing more than satisfaction mills, delivering a sense of superiority over one’s fellow man (which, ironically, makes journos and bloggers no better than the commenters they piss on in private). Like so much in life, bad pitch blogs make some people feel good, even if they aren’t terribly productive.
I’m often amused at things that some would find offensive or hurtful … and yes, I’ve given others laughter at my expense to this degree. It just works for me. Bad pitch blogs, though, have never resonated with me. I actually see them as a destructive force in journalism (which includes blogs for any of those self-important douches who make the distinction – it’s all information, guys).
More than once, I’ve fielded calls from publicists asking some form of “will this pitch get me into trouble?” All they are worried about is winding up on a bad pitch blog someplace. As a result, they are second-guessing themselves and ultimately taking the choice away from the reporters and bloggers. If you never get the pitch, you never get to choose.
This matters to me.
I tell every publicist I meet: when in doubt, pitch me. It takes seconds to read a short pitch, maybe half a minute to scan a press release. That’s not a huge investment of time to decide whether you want to explore something further. If a pitch is off-topic, not relevant to me, etc., I haven’t put much time into the transaction. But, if I find something worth exploring in a bit more depth, I’ve scored. It costs little to sift through the many for the hefty returns that come from something good.
When the agencies become too cautious, journalists run the risk of missing something interesting. A cool story may never happen simply because a publicist somewhere worried that the pitch wasn’t good enough. Bad pitch blogs are a big part of the reason. Now, the normal course of business could land one of these professionals in a shrine of eternal stupidity. That’s a high price to pay, so it’s not surprising that many are being more careful than necessary.
I do think there should be some penalty for stupidity – in the agency/reporter transaction and elsewhere in life. But, it doesn’t have to be public, as shining a spotlight on idiocy can punish the legit indirectly. Instead, we should do what we’ve always done. Tell people who don’t pitch appropriately that they’re fucking up. Or, spread the word among our own networks and colleagues, letting them know who to avoid. And, ther’s always the spam button in your e-mail account. When necessary, use it.
Bad pitch blogs, though, disrupt an already inefficient dynamic between the media and those in the business of “relating” to us. Let’s not make it worse.