Posting, Pitching and PR: The Presentation (#TalkIsCheap)

Last week, I gave a presentation at Centennial College's Talk Is Cheap unconference. The talk was Music Blogging: Posting, Pitching and PR, and if that sounds familiar, its because I wrote a blog post with the same title a few months ago. I've gone to #TalkIsCheap for the past few years, and I've always had a great time. I think it's one of the better social media events in Toronto these days, and the organizers deserve a round of applause. (Thanks for letting me speak!)

The gist of my talk was that as much as I enjoy writing the occasional post here on BlogCampaigning, I don't really like writing about PR, and I don't like reading about PR and and communications. By the informal polls I did of the audience, it seems like most people agreed with me. (I mean, c'mon: do you REALLY enjoy reading about PR and communications?)

I went on to talk about how much more I enjoyed writing about electronic music and science fiction for my other blog, and how doing that has taught me way more about PR and online communications than writing posts for BlogCampaigning.

While I didn't get too deep into the details of music blogging, I did talk about some of things I'd learned about PR from my other blog:

1. Your pitches don't have to be personalized – I feel like PR and communications pros who blog are the only ones who insist on pitches being personalized. The rest of the blogging world will post about something if they feel its relevant to their audience. Personalized pitches can help, but they aren't necessary.

2. Your pitches should be well targeted – if they aren't, you're just wasting everyone's time. When talking about this, I used an example of a PR person that sent me an album to review for my music blog. I normally only blog about electronic music, but the album was folk guitar. I'm going to ignore every e-mail I get from that PR person from now on, because I'll just assume it is the same type of music.

3. Don't send fancy HTML emails - once again, you're wasting everyone's time. They don't show up well on mobile devices, Outlook frequently blocks the images and even Yahoo! and Gmail don't seem to like them.

4. Don't follow up – it just pisses people off. While admittedly I've gotten some great coverage out of following up with a journalist, and have also posted something just because some guy followed up so often that I started to feel guilty, nobody feels good about a PR pitch being followed up. It's one of those things that everyone just feels awkward about. In the case where you have a good relationship with a journalist or a blogger, then its probably alright to follow up because you'll know when it is appropriate. As someone else commented during my presentation, if you're pitches are well targeted then you probably shouldn't have to do a lot of follow-up.

In the end, I tried to encourage the audience to start a blog about something they care about. For example, if they want to work in PR for one of the big car companies, they should start a blog about cars. If they want to work in fashion PR, they should start a fashion blog. Seeing the world in the eyes of an online journalist will be far more valuable than writing the occasional post about something like the "intersection of PR and social media".

So what do you think—should students blog about their thoughts on the PR industry, or should they be blogging about something they care about?

Have you started a blog, and given up after a while because it was about something you weren't interested in?