The practitioners who apply this shotgun approach to getting ink are damaging the profession. There are thousands of clued-in PR professionals who would target a journalist (or an influential blogger like Zawodny) only after doing his homework and determining that the reporter and the story are a good match. A blacklist would catch all those legitimate queries in the same filter as the “pitch spam.” Not only would the pitch never reach the target, but the journalist could miss a story in which he’s actually interested.
So why do PR shops engage in a practice which they know is ineffective to the point of being counterproductive? This post from Michael O’Connor Clarke may offer a clue:
If It Moves, Bill It!
Irregular, creative, or downright unethical billing practices are the dirty secret in too many PR agencies. Some of them don’t even realize they’re doing it – or they just don’t recognize that what they’re doing would, at best, raise serious questions were their clients to find out.
Could it be that some PR firms are sending out press releases just to be able to bill clients for stories they know will never be placed? I certainly hope not.