This week’s Guardian tech podcast – aside from asking whether PR is needed anymore (something which I won’t go into here as it’s fairly obvious which side of the fence I’d sit) – introduces us to an interesting new concept: a matchmaking service that aims to put journalists in touch with stories without having to wade through mountains of irrelevant PR-generated fluff.
Pitchspace is headed up by James Cox, who I might be inclined to trust a little more if he didn’t sound as though he’s never, ever worked in PR. You really have to listen to his interview – classic comments include the idea that journalists will write your story if you send them a hamper from Harrods, that to start off in PR you need to invest in a database costing thousands of pounds, and that it’s all about product PR.
I’ve no doubt that journalists are faced with an incredibly irritating barrage of ill-targeted emails every day, only a tiny percentage of which are of any use. But is a content aggregation service, where PRs post stuff and journalists search/RSS it, really going to make life that much easier? I’ve also not heard many journalists say that what they’d really like are stories and pitches that have already been provided (in an identical format) to every other hack in Britain.
Finally, is this really such a radical approach – Sourcewire, anyone?
Yes, there are a lot of badly written releases and pitches out there, as well as some shamefully bad targeting – but I just can’t see how this system will improve things. It’s certainly not going to make PRs write better materials and means that those who are new to the field are going to have even less idea about what individual journalists are interested in and care about. Call me old-fashioned, but whatever happened to reading the publication or site you want to be in to find out who and what’s relevant?
I always thought that if you had a decent story that’s well-targeted and well-presented, then you’re sorted. But then maybe I’m wrong.
Quick trip to the Harrods website and rest of the day in the pub for me then...