Bad Kitty: A Radio Producer’s Impressions of PR Faux Paws

Austin Cross, an award-winning radio producer at NPR’s KPCC in Los Angeles posted an article on Muck Rack, “The 10 cats who are tired of getting bad pitches from PR pros.” I got permission to repost his article, which offers one journalist’s reaction to dumping bad pitches into his litter inbox.

Whether you’ve been in journalism for a few years or a few decades, chances are you’ve received pitches from public relations representatives who seem to lack intuition, tact and general people skills.

Though serious pitch faux paws (see what I did there?) are far and few, every now and then a representative, believing themselves to be exceptional, will cross a few lines in an attempt to get their guest or message heard.

Because I have personally experienced the following fiascos over the past few months, I must conclude that a few practices are far more widespread than I originally believed. Having tackled similar gaffes for Muck Rack before, I believe that the time is ripe for another look at some of the biggest blunders that I have witnessed in the past few months, but this time … with cats.

The kitties are in position. Here we go:

10. When the PR person pitches you something completely off your beat.

Just going to go ahead and file this in my circular cabinet. Someone should have checked my Muck Rack profile first.

9. When the same PR person calls you every day, and you don’t have the heart to tell them to stop.

“Oh you want to talk again tomorrow? Well, I’m pretty busy in the mornings … “

8. When a listener/viewer/reader calls you to criticize your outlet, but then says that they can improve everything if you just have them on

“You guys suck, but I have what it takes to make you suck just a little bit less. Call me!”

7. When a PR person finds your unlisted cell number and calls you to make a pitch.

Actual conversation: “Where did you get my cell number?” “Oh, I don’t know. Does it matter?”

6. When the PR agency emailing you starts the email, “Dear Name …”

“Did they just … Hey everybody, come check this out! “

5. When the young PR assistant calling you is obviously reading from a script.

Please. Stop.

4. When a PR representative begins to name-drop your directors and upper management in an attempt to intimidate you into taking their guest.

No. We’re not friends.

3. When a PR person knows that you’re new to a company and feels it’s their responsibility to tell you the special treatment they’ve become used to.

Really? My predecessor always took your pitches? Gee, well thanks for straightening me out …

2. When you accept a person’s pitch moments after receiving the email, only to receive an auto-response that they’re out of the office.

No, it won’t be news tomorrow. Passive a”ressive email time.

1. When you get accused of being politically biased after declining an interview with a controversial guest.

Mmm. Putdowns. I know just what to do with this release.

Have you experienced similar balderdashery from rogue PR agents? Leave your experiences in the comment section below.

Austin Cross is a Los Angeles radio producer. His views do not represent the views of his employers.