When was the last time someone you have never met reached out to you and asked for something? I am talking in a professional setting. This happens nearly every day to me as a senior contributing editor for commARCH magazine. PR professionals send emails to me daily pitching their clients’ latest products, projects, and awards. Without introduction, why would I take a minute to pay attention to their advances? It seems to me PR pitches have gotten lazy.
commARCH is the fasting growing, cutting edge publication dedicated to early and mid-career architects and designers in the construction industry. It is smart, contemporary, beautifully designed, and, honestly, the place to be if you are a building product manufacturer. It is a privilege to be a small part of the magazine.
As a staff member focused on marketing and business growth in the industry, I am a target for PR pros pitching their clients’ latest projects, products, and accomplishments. I typically receive four to six pitches each week, all of them by email. All the PR pros that sign their names to the pitches are new to me. This is not to say I should know everyone in the business. It is to say I have no reason to open your email or act upon it. Rather, it makes me wonder if they have taken the time to get to know the magazine, the readers, and me, as the apparent steward of their pitch at commARCH? My guess if no. As a result, why open, read, and recommend a pitch from anyone who I do not know and has not introduced themselves?
I know I am asking a lot of questions. As a marketing professional in the construction industry for the better part of thirty years and an agency partner with several of the leading building products brands, I am disappointed in my associates and their lack of awareness and effort to do what I know is the right thing. I am also delighted there is an opportunity for more PR work based on these efforts.
There is a difference
Let me use the example of the PR efforts for a national fuel and water container company to demonstrate how there is a difference between what we do and what I experience from other PR pros every week.
In 2020, we placed more than 6,000 stories in the media about fuel and water containers. Fuel container is a formal way of saying gas can. These stories produced more than 1.5 billion impressions in twelve months targeting specific consumers and trades. The ad value was more than $11 million dollars and the ROI was 162 to 1. Sales were a record high for the client, during a pandemic year, and the difference was relationships.
Personal connections still matter
The difference between the emails with pitches from people I have never met and not know and the pitches that are successful in the container example I shared are the personal relationships we have with the editors. When we reach out with a pitch from one of our clients’ new projects or products or accomplishments, we talk with the editors to share why this is important to their readers. We ask them what we can do to help them feature our pitch. As a result of our relationship, we typically know what they need for images, links, references, or more and make these immediately available.
We interviewed Building Design and Construction editor-in-chief Dave Barista as a part of our “There is a Difference” series and asked about the best ways to pitch and if relationships matter. While email is his preferred method to receive information, he covets his relationships with certain PR professionals and will take the time to talk with them in consideration of their work and efforts. The reason is simple: these same people are considerate of him.
The use of paid media placement outlets is a part of the PR landscape today. We use it in a targeted fashion for our clients. At the same time, we never forget the personal connections at the heart of our success and that of our clients.