Andy Beaupre, co-founder & CEO of Beaupre, a communications, branding and PR company owned by Brodeur Partners posted an essay on Ragan Communications today where he argues that we should ditch “pitch” and “pitching” as anachronistic in this day and age. He says the terms and the act itself is old-fashioned and marks users as fossils in the new age of new media and social networking.
While Beaupre is probably well intentioned, his arguments are a little too strident to my ears. He takes the time-honored “pitch” and slaps it with every negative attribute he can find, from calling it old-fashioned, to blaming it for “de-positioning” the entire PR industry (whatever that means) to labeling it as arrogant. Beaupre would have us convert every function of public relations into a “two-way conversation,” a “story.”
That’s all just socmed agitprop, if you ask me. Certainly, social media have had a tremendous transformative effect on the industry, and we as practitioners have had to adapt — with varying levels of success. But there are still legitimate uses for a pitch and times for when pitching is an effective approach.
For example, when responding to a query on HARO, I wouldn’t know how to “start a conversation” that would get my information noticed from among 200,000 subscribers. However, I might stand a better shot if I craft a short, clear, catchy pitch that is more likely to snagged a harried reporter’s attention.
Pitching remains a specialized tool in the PR practitioner’s quiver. It shouldn’t be hyped up or puffed up or deceptive — you can pitch without going to the dark side of PR. Indeed, journalists smell that in a second and toss your attempt at fooling them.
As long as there are journalists out there, and last time I checked they hadn’t all migrated to Twitter, there will be a use for the pitch and for pitching. Call me a fossil, but I’m not willing to give up on it yet.