When Did PR Become This?

(See update at end of post.)

Because I’m not only the “head helper,” but also the “head recipient of email” at SmallBusiness.com, I receive an endless stream of pitches from people with titles like “PR manager.” Unfortunately, most (not all, but most) of the email is boilerplate crap sent to websites that sound like, maybe, they could be visited by small business owners.

Once in a while, I’ll see one of these worthless pitches and recall how long, long ago, I used to run a public relations firm. I can recall obsessing over to whom and how we would pitch a story. We would look for specific angles that benefit our client, but still provide the reporter plenty of opportunity to make it his or her story. I would often suggest people the reporter could talk with to get opposing or competitive sides of a story.

Somewhere along the way, perhaps when all the reporters got fired from all the former media companies that used to employ former reporters, the title “manager, public relations” must have started meaning, “person in charge of randomingly sending out emails like this”:

Hello,

My name is —– and I am a PR Manager at —– I came across your contact at http://smallbusiness.com and I noticed that you have mentioned/wrote about our direct competitors.

On this note, I’d like to ask if you’d be interested in:

– publishing company’s press releases
– publishing white papers/infographics
– professional comment/analysis on a hot topic/industry related topic
– writing a quality article, review/sponsored post – mentioning ——- and/or its products in your articles when relevant

We would be interested in writing on the following topics: ——, —, Cloud ——, —- Management etc.

Our company, ——® is a fast-growing, global software company delivering innovative —– solutions. —— is a holder of the prestigious —- Award and —- Award while our founder, ——-, is also the co-founder of —- and ——.

Is there anything that might potentially interest you? I will be glad to hear your feedback and provide you with more details afterwards.

If you have other ideas of cooperation, I would like to hear them.

Best regards,
———
PR Manager
———
http://www.—-.com

While the obvious response would be, “no to all of the above,” I don’t respond to such email. I click on the spam button. I block email from their domain name. One day, if their company actually has something worth writing about, I won’t know because I won’t get any email from their address.

I won’t care.

That’s what they get for not knowing the difference in spam and what used to be called public relations.

That’s what I get for thinking that public relations should be more.

Update: By coincidence (or fate), within a few moments of posting this, I received a good old fashion helpful email from a PR person whose client is a large technology company. Because she actually reads SmallBusiness.com regularaly, she knows that we focus on tips, how-tos, trends, help and context. She also knows that any tech story we run is not for geeks, but for small business owners who aren’t afraid of technology and are looking for ways to use technology, not create technology.

She provided me with a context and angle for a story and then filled in the blanks. She knows it’s a topic I have written about and will take in any direction I want. But she also knows that she’s provided me something that will have a good shot of making included in an upcoming news item.

My hope is restored.