I was just reading a blog entry by Steve Rubel about the fact that he is receiving more PR pitches (for what he does not say) and that his inbox is full of poor quality pitches. We get a few of these a week from different companies a web site or a developer and I was thinking about what I thought about the practice and agreeing to review their product.
Steve was mainly concerned about the fact that the quality of the PR pitches that he was receiving were getting worse than better. Which is surprising since it seems one of the best ways to get noticed in a crowded space is to get blogged about by an A-lister. You want to put your best foot forward and deliver quality all round, not just your product or site. Even if you have a great new start-up or a good quality product it might be ignored if the pitch is crap.
So we at The Global Geek Podcast get a few of these “pitches” a week. I am sure we are not getting the volume that people like Steve Rubel get! But we get a modest few. Usually it is for a site review or something like that. One of the segments that we have in the podcast is called “Sites and Services”. It is actually one of the most loved segments of the show and the one that generates the most feedback from developers and listeners both. So it stands to reason that we are pitched, plus they get a link in the show notes. Generally, we just get a pleasant email saying something like, please have a look at [site name] and consider for review in the podcast.
It feels great to know that companies want us to look at their product. We are fairly new at this so it is a bit of a buzz. But the way that I respond to these is that I look at them all. We don’t review them all on the podcast though. If it is crap or does not interest us it gets the boot. If we include it in the podcast the the response from the developer is often mixed.
Occasionally the developers and owners are none too impressed at what we have to say. We don’t trash sites but we do give our honest opinion. We do this with a few things in mind. That is we think of our audience and we think about what we stand for. I wonder if the developers thought about this before they sent us an email?
Our policy is that we review or report on a website or service based on the fact that we are users. Not uber geeks, users. If I recommend a site in the show then I do not want our listeners writing to us flaming us that the site was for example “hard to understand” or “had a bad interface” (or just generally shit). If we think it is cool then we say why and how and they are the reactions that we think our listeners will have to it. That doesn’t mean a website or service has to be simple, you might have a bloody unreal website with great features and it might even be revolutionary but if there is no instruction book then your effort is wasted on the user. (This happens a lot)
Yes, we have even had hate mail as a result of a review. But when you put your product out there and ask for it to be judged then you better be confident in your product and also be prepared to accept what has been said. Or we get email back saying that we did not “get it” and here is some more information about the service so we might better understand it. Okay, so if you need to tell us what it is about and how to use it or what is so good about it, then why was that information not included on the site? How do you expect the public and the average “user” to understand and adopt your technology?
The best feedback that we have ever had for sites and services are those which have been unsolicited or non-pitched, sourced with our own resources. Ironic. These are the ones that give us a link in their company blog and are very thankful that we spoke of them. Nice.
Steve Rubel goes on to mention the tatic that Pete Cashmore from Mashable has taken to overcome the in-box inundation of pitches that I am sure he has. That is to post pitches “as is” and unedited on the blog then to add his own take on the service or whatever it is. Good idea but hard to do for a podcast. Although we can just report it and let the listeners judge it. But then we want to let our listeners know where the best or the useful or the special or the remarkable is not just have a look and judge for yourself.
I just hope that The Global Geek in-box doesn’t resemble a Web 2.0 mash-up as time goes on. I don’t have enough time to do what I have to now, but we are always open to suggestions. Just one tip to the potential “pitcher”: Don’t pitch your website or service with an assumption as to what the reviewer might say, it might be glowing or it might be negative it might be mixed. Take that on the chin and agree or disagree or be thankful that it was tops. Or better; use it to improve what you are offering and ask the reviewer back to reconsider their initial verdict. The latter speaks volumes.