Lee Odden

Public Relations Spam and the Bad Pitch

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Online PR, Rant

It continues to amaze me how many clueless or sloppy PR pitches we get week in and week out. Just last week it ranged from obvious typos/grammatical errors to claims that a story was exclusive and unreleased when a quick check of Google Blog Search showed nothing less than 10 blogs had already posted on the topic. While these are not necessarily dealbreakers for coverage, the one that will guarantee a visit to the trash bin is blatant spin.

I realize as much as anyone, that the job of a public relations expert is to tell compelling stories. But there is a big difference between outright “spin” and a story that is genuinely interesting and newsworthy. Because I am in the public relations business, I may be more suspicious of this than most. But when a pitch relies on a sort of suspension of disbelief effect because of great storytelling, I consider that nothing less than public relations spam.

It’s unsolicited almost always, but that’s part of the game when you have a blog. But when it’s misleading, it’s spam to me.

It’s particularly disappointing when prominent people in the PR industry do this. Along the same lines, we’ve had experiences with prominent web development agencies renowned for being SEO savvy, putting out absolute crap web sites in terms of search engine friendliness.

I guess the good news from the agency side is that this sort of thing proves steady work for those and firms that know what they’re doing. Companies get fed up and look elsewhere, but who factors that sort of thing into a web development or search marketing budget? No one. It has to come from somewhere though and that’s why companies should put a little more due diligence into selecting companies in the SEO space.

At the same time, PR firms have a tremendous opportunity to get a clue and stop focusing so much on the “spin” and hire some real talent that can tell good stories provocatively, build relationships and be honest with clients about the actual viability of their announcement as newsworthy – or not. Similarly, many web development agencies can stop claiming SEO godliness and start producing web sites that are indexable, allow for rich text content as well as meeting branding and user experience needs.

And so it goes…

[/end rant]

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. I’ve received a few emails from people asking “was it me?” in reference to this post. I should note that if I took issue with a particular company, specifically, I would actually name them in the post. Or at least be more specific so it would be easy to guess. However, many PR practitioners and web development agencies are involved with the sloppy practices mentioned above. It is not any one firm – Just a FYI.

  2. Hello Lee,

    I wrote a very similar story about 2 months ago. FYI: .


    Amanda Chapel
    Managing Editor

  3. Thanks Amanda, am glad to hear it’s not just me thinking this. 🙂