To blast or not to blast? This seems to be the ultimate question in PR.
Casey Stickles, Account Supervisor at 5WPR, says it best. “Blasts have always been seen as spam by reporters and the easy way out by publicists. It’s the quickest way to get the word out to the masses, however the problem is, there’s usually a good portion on the receiving end that aren’t interested and beyond that, are annoyed by your lack of research and personalization. With that being said, I do think there’s a time and a place for blasts.”
I agree with Casey.
While you should attempt to avoid doing blasts, sometimes as a publicist, you gotta do, what you gotta do. It would be unrealistic to completely write off blasts because they obviously save a huge amount of time.
I wouldn’t say that every one of your pitches should be blasted out to hundred of random contacts; however, there are certain situations that warrant a mail merge. Every once in a while, when done correctly, a mass pitch can garner some decent results.
For the past four years, I have only done pitching and editorial placement for my PR firm client and hand pitching (custom, personalized outreach) a small list of the correct contacts usually results in the best placements. However, I do still believe that there are certain ways to correctly pull of an e-mail blast.
Here a few DOs and DON’Ts to keep in mind when putting together your next Mailchimp campaign:
DON’T blast national media or connections
As a general rule of thumb, I try hard to not blast tier-one media contacts. I also try not to include people that I have worked with before. For these contacts, sending a personalized e-mail will be a lot more effective. Blasts are great ways to send information to smaller media outlets, such as, some blogs.
DO use an ESP for breaking news
When time is of the essence, putting together an e-mail blast can be useful. If you need to hit a large number of contacts in a short amount of time, I think it is acceptable to use an ESP. Sarah Rose Attman, founder of Sarah Rose Public Relations, chimes in, “Unless you have something super awesome to announce, assume you are annoying journalists, clogging inboxes, and getting immediately deleted. My advice is: only do it if you have some great and newsworthy to say.”
Breaking news is a good example because it has such a short shelf life. If you don’t get your breaking story out, while it is a hot topic, then by tomorrow there will already be a new story. In fashion, many publicists agree that an email blast works when sending out images during fashion week, or after a red carpet event, when time is of the essence and editors are scrambling for to-the-minute stories.
DON’T [fName] if you don’t have it
If you have first names for all your contacts, great! Go ahead and address them by name in your email program using the first name tag. But, if you are using a default like Hi Friend, or Dear Editor, or messed up your email import, your credibility will be shot (this is a huge indicator that your pitch has been blasted). Also, double check the spelling of names before you send. This seems to be journalists number one pet peeve, so before you send out the list, double check your contacts!
DO try to edit the list
Just because you have the ability to send your pitch to 10,000 people through an ESP, doesn’t mean you should. Even if you are sending a blast, make sure you edit your list down to contacts that make sense.
Casey from 5WPR adds, “I always…urge my team to put in the time to create a targeted pitch to a specific reporter based on their previous stories, however, if you have pre-packaged content such as tips on a certain topic or are doing a source filing, letting an outlet know you have someone who can speak on a multitude of topics they cover and keep your lists to no more than 50 reporters who cover the beat, they can be ok.”
Pitching shouldn’t be a shot in the dark; instead, there should be some strategy and time behind it to make sure you are reaching out to the correct people.
DON’T send pitches in newsletter format
Sometimes publicists send me pitches for my blog, NeonNotebook. I automatically delete pitches that are formatted like newsletter. If the pitch looks likes something that has been sent by a store, I automatically delete it. Blast shouldn’t be fancy, include the essential information in the body of e-mail with a few images. The editor you are reaching out to knows what to do next.
DON’T sound canned
I really hate it when I get pitches that are obviously blasts, but say something to the effect of, “I have really enjoyed reading your blog” or “I thought this would be the perfect fit your blog.” No, obviously you haven’t even taken the time to look at my writing. If you are doing a blast, no need to go above and beyond with canned statements like that. Instead, just send an e-mail with the facts and details.