Public Relations Firms – How Can You Help US?

May 30. 2017. 5 mins read

We have a large, rapidly growing, influential audience of readers because we provide insightful content about investing in emerging technologies that is objective, interesting, non-political, and never sugar coated. As a result of this, we’re starting to get a lot of emails every day which roughly fall into the following four categories:

  1. Link wh0res
  2. John in Mumbai” types trying to sell us stuff
  3. Readers, company executives, people who add value to a conversation
  4. Public relations people

Regarding the first type, if you’re familiar with online marketing then you’ll know that there is this universal assumption that you will get better rankings in Google if people link to your “content”. (We don’t say “articles” any more, we say “content”. Sounds cooler.) So all manners of people will email us with the standard spiel seen below:

  • Avid reader of your site. Love your content (stroke, stroke, stroke)
  • Here’s a cool piece of content you might find relevant (usually it’s not)
  • Link and we’ll give you all this exposure via social media (usually crap)

Our policy is that we don’t do links. If we find something we want to link to, we will. We believe links should happen naturally. This is why you’ll never get an email from Nanalyze asking you for links.

The second type of request is usually obvious because it’s written in Engrish and it’s just some “John in Mumbai” type trying to sell stuff. That’s fine, everyone needs to sell stuff, but we’ll never buy anything EVER from somebody that cold calls us.

The third type are all of our lovely readers who often provide some of the most insightful commentary or offers of assistance you can imagine. People are generally kind, and we see that in these emails. Often times a founder or C-suite type will email us with a genuine offer of assistance or gently ask for some exposure and that always results in some sort of mutually beneficial interactions.

Then there’s the last type – public relations people. These are people who are being paid HUMONGOUS fees to get exposure for their clients. Below you can see the fee income for the top-10 global PR firms:

Top Public Relations Firms

The top-5 PR firms in the USA have generated $3.3 billion in fees and we’ve never been offered one red penny of those fees, EVER.

We’re frankly exasperated. We started with polite “no thank you” emails but this only encouraged the same PR firms to email us even more. Then, we started being total pricks and then felt bad when we made one lady cry because we almost caused her to lose her job. Then, we formulated a “product” where companies can sponsor an article (essentially pay us to write about them). Maybe it was the fact that we explicitly stated that we would always be objective if we were paid, but we had no takers. Sometimes we would get remarks like “we don’t pay to play”. Okay, that’s fine then.

Update 12/27/2018 – We now have a fair number of takers for paid articles. We’re able to be objective and at the same time provide a very high quality content marketing service to select clients. Drop us a mail for more info.

At the end of our rope, we then tried to have a genuine conversation with PR agencies such as the following actual email that our Managing Editor sent out to multiple agencies after we wrote about their clients (per our own decision to do so):

I was hoping I could ask you a pretty direct question as I am puzzled. This is genuine and completely off the record of course.
We receive emails from PR agencies daily and we are tired of responding with a “no thank you” in 99% of the cases. This is because we get no benefit from helping PR agencies provide exposure for their clients. None seem willing to pay $$$ and we have costs – like writers!
My question is this. From your perspective, what do we stand to gain if money is out of the question? Access to company executives is not an answer here as we can easily get those ourselves now. Should we be asking for $$$ differently? Should we ask for PR exposure in return?
Honestly. I would be so grateful to hear what you think about how we might address this going forward so everyone wins 🙂
Thank you!

We’ve only had one response so far. The agent essentially said that people needed to better research who they emailed. That’s not what we were getting at. Here’s an excerpt from an article published by a U.K public relations association called the PRCA which explicitly states what we’re asking for here:

The Public Relations Society of America counts 28,000 members. If you have a large rolodex (remember those?) of people in media then you start a “PR firm”. We often describe the role of PR people that email us as analogous to the guy in the nightclub bathroom who tries to hand you a towel and expects a tip. We almost never find topics of value coming from PR people, in fact, sometimes we’ll write about a company then a PR agency will email us after the article is published asking us if we need anything. You think they tell their client that they weren’t involved in that article getting published? Doesn’t seem likely.

Let’s be honest though. Being a PR agent is hard work. One time we said some kind words to a poor PR person who responded to us that we made her day because she was feeling so discouraged. That made us feel horrible about ourselves. Here this poor woman was trying her hardest to get our attention, to do her job, and we could have been mean to her and made her sad. We decided that being mean wasn’t the answer.

When we need to explain something to our writers, we often do so in the form of an article that our readers can enjoy as well. Articles like “What is the Best Way to Learn Artificial Intelligence” or “The Top 12 Venture Capital Firms You Should Know About” are used to answer questions our writers and readers have relating to these topics. It is for this same reason that we wrote this article. If you send us an email and we respond with a link to this article, then now you need to formulate some value proposition. No, access to your client is NOT a value proposition. Please tell us explicitly how you plan to help us in exchange for giving your client exposure to our lovely readers.

To our lovely readers, please forward this article to anyone you know who works in the business of publishing so it can be used in the same manner. Publishers should demand that this problem is solved. The entire value proposition for media publishers needs to change from now on so that PR firms add value on both sides of the transaction.

PR firms, we’d love to hear your ideas on how we can work together to solve this problem. We know how you help your clients who pays you significant fees for that help, but please tell us. How can you help us?


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    1. You might be referring to that myth in the PR industry that somehow they hold the keys to all the information but in fact most offer up very little. You will find in many cases that the interviews offered up by PR firms are with media trained personalities that stick to canned lines which don’t add much value to readers. In most cases, that’s what you get. Fortunately, we have startups reach out to us so we kind of leapfrogged the whole thing. We’re always happy to engage with PR firms that add real value in exchange for giving their paying clients exposure.