WordPress Plugin: WP-Twitterpitch

Obviously, there’s been a lot of talk about PR pitches gone bad. Stowe Boyd coined the word Twit Pitches last month. The concept is to force PR firms to use the economy of words (characters?) to pitch bloggers. It’s a reality in life, and I fight with my wife on this regularly, that no one cares about your “thing” as much as you do and so are less likely to want to give you the time to “pitch” the story or idea. You need to be quick, succinct and use compelling hooks.

Thus, the Twitter Pitch was born.

I’m releasing a new plugin that I hacked together over the weekend called WP-Twitterpitch that I’m also running here at Technosailor. Check out the navigation for a demo.

WP-TwitterPitch is all about getting the pitch delivered to you in the form you want to get it delivered – in other words in Twitter format. If you’re like me, then your Twitter direct message box is a lot like your email inbox. Personally, I don’t want to get pitches from PR companies in certain email inboxes. For whatever reason, I may not check them or they are personal, etc.

Twitter, however, provides the ultimate quick-messaging system. This plugin provides a template tag that you can drop anywhere in your theme. Clicking the link provides lightbox-like functionality for a “pitch form”. Using the form does not require a Twitter account (but does require that you have a secondary Twitter account you can use for this purpose, since you can’t send Direct Messages to yourself via Twitter). Note: Your WP-TwitterPitch Twitter account must follow the account that is being pitched and vica versa. This is a one-off action (hopefully, depending on Twitter) and only needs to be done when setting up WP-TwitterPitch.

Messages sent from the form are DMmed to the account getting the pitch and the form is limited to 140 characters or less. The beauty of linguistic efficiency.

Installation

  1. Upload the
    1
    wp-twitterpitch

    folder to the

    1
    /wp-content/plugins/

    directory

  2. Activate the plugin through the ‘Plugins’ menu in WordPress
  3. Edit Admin options to include Twitter ID to pitch, Twitter ID and Password to send Twitter pitches
  4. as, as well as a message to “pitchers” that will be displayed in the form after the pitch has been sent.

    Place wherever you want the link to appear

Direct Download Link

Blogger Blacklist (and Other PR Pipe Dreams)

Remember the blogger-PR fiasco last year? The one where Wired Editor Chris Anderson published a list of over 300 email addresses from PR flacks that pitched him unsolicited? It caused quite a stir. In fact, around here, it got the PR Roundtable going where Marshall Kirkpatrick, Cathryn Hrudicka, Brian Solis, Doug Haslam and the late Marc Orchant discussed the quandry of PR relations with bloggers. Yes, that incident.

Well, it’s happened again. This time, the “outage” has occurred on a publicly editable wiki and lists PR Firms.

It’s caused quite a stir.

The story, in a nutshell is that Gina Trapani, lead editor of Lifehacker got tired of being spammed by PR agencies send press releases and pitches to her personal email address, despite notices “everywhere” to pitch tips@lifehacker.com. So she published a wiki with agencies that have pitched her personal email address (later made it editable only with attribution) and provided details on how to filter that list through Gmail filtering.

The topic has now been floated by some in the PR industry who have their panties in a bunch over this thing, that a blacklist be created for bloggers. I’ve avoided the whole controversy until last night when Geoff’s lunatical rant pushed me over the edge.

In those comments, I welcome the concept of a blogger blacklist. In fact, I want to be at the top of that list. See, it’s not that I don’t want to be pitched. I do. But pitching should come from some sort of rapport or relationship, not simply because of social ranking in the blogosphere. Even if the criteria were based on status in a particular niche of the blogosphere that was relevant to the pitch, that would be much more palatable than cold call spamming in the name of public frikkin’ relations.

Please put me on this blacklist. In fact, can I start it for you? Done.

I hope and pray this keeps the riff raff out of my inbox. Riff raff includes PR professionals or agencies who have not taken the time to understand us as bloggers. They don’t take the time to read our blogs. To know our audience. They leave voicemails about super secret meetings associated with events that we’re not registered for in cities that we aren’t in. They send us form letters addressing us as Site Owner. They don’t pay attention to how we want to be pitched.

See the PR agencies and professionals that can pitch me any day of the week know me or have some kind of professional rapport with me. They don’t need a blacklist. They wouldn’t even know I was on the blacklist. They don’t need to.

Is this too much work? Maybe. Should PR people care? Probably. I mean, really… If you’re spitballing top tier bloggers hoping to get the vehicle for the message, then you probably don’t want to include those top-tier bloggers, the biggest complainers, the most vocal advocates for change, in that list.

Some bloggers, like myself, will put our own names on that list.

Putting away all the foofoo, let’s think about some practical solutions to this problem. I think it’s high time that the PR community finance the creation and support of a third party broker that would maintain the authenticity, privacy, trust and relationship with the blogging comunity. I’m talking about an OpenID sort of trust-based system that includes the trust-relationship management as well as a CRM tool/plugin-in for sending communications in a standardized way. This tool would provide the recipient a means of “opt out” as well as trust-based ratings, reviews, advocacy and management.

PR Agency A sends me a press release via the system. I approve and can either create positive feedback or abstain (neutral feedback). If Agency B pitches and I don’t want it, I provide a negative feedback item that stays on an Agency’s permanent record.

I will gladly work with PR firms to create this tool. I think it’s essential for the healthy relationship between bloggers who legitimately want or need to be pitched and PR professionals who need to make a living and want to do it in a constructive, productive, ethical and moral way.

In the meantime, this stuff is not going to end soon. Agencies need to recognize that. Jeremy Pepper rightly points out that training is not happening. Spitball pitches or pitches in a way non-conducive to blogger cooperation (Gina’s issue) will not help.

As much as I’m a blogger, I have a degree of communications savviness too. We all want this to work well. Let’s create the tools to do it.

So That's What You Believe…

Just some random thoughts I have.

  1. Social Media is only as valuable as what you put into it.
  2. Your Blogging success is not based on the number of pageviews, but the number of “conversions” (forget advertising here, folks. Think deeper)
  3. Your company needs to be blogging because you can then facilitate the conversation that is happening anyway
  4. Presence Marketing can be the most effective use of social media. Read: Twitter rocks
  5. You can be more effective as a well connected, thoughtful blogger with 500 subscribers than you can as a “powerhouse” blogger with 500,000.
  6. Search feeds can be more important than blog feeds
  7. The best networking happens over alcohol, after 10pm
  8. Ask questions, receive feedback, take action.
  9. Great business is birthed out of great community which is made of great individuals with great ideas.
  10. Share and share alike.
  11. Don’t be offended if someone criticizes you.
  12. Be honest and constructive, not destructive
  13. Laugh at yourself
  14. Don’t oversell by spinning.
  15. Recurring sales come from trust.
  16. You cannot control your brand, but you can influence how it is percieved
  17. There are valuable things in social media. Everything else is not valuable.
  18. Early adopters are geeks, but they are also filters.
  19. Never say never, but if concerned, proceed with caution. But do proceed.
  20. Generations change. Practices change. Principles remain the same.
  21. A blog is the best resumé someone can have
  22. Your archives will always be there. It’s your chance to shape what they will look like.
  23. Think differently about the value of traffic. It may not be as effective as you think it is.
  24. Do not be afraid to be vocal.
  25. Think clearly and coherently and shape your words, but spend more time thinking than you do writing.

What would you add?