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How am I supposed to handle this sort of thing? (See below.) I just stuck it one of my email folders without responding, but then I wondered . . . what’s it all about? Is there some sort of Glengarry Glen Ross-like parallel world where down-on-their-luck Jack Lemmons of public relations world send out electronic cold calls? More than anything else, this sort of thing makes me glad I have a steady job.

Here’s the (unsolicited) email, which came with the subject line “Please help a reporter do his job”:

Dear Andrew,

As an Editor for the Bulldog Reporter (, a media relations trade publication, my job is to help ensure that my readers have accurate info about you and send you the best quality pitches. By taking five minutes or less to answer my questions (pasted below), you’ll receive targeted PR pitches from our client base that will match your beat and interests. Any help or direction is appreciated. Here are my questions.

We have you listed in our media database as : Andrew Gelman, Editor with Chance Magazine covering Gambling.

1. Which specific beats and topic areas do you cover?
2. What do the best PR people do to grab you, to get your attention and make you want to work with them?
3. On the other hand, what are some inappropriate pitches for your type of coverage (i.e., material that PR keeps sending you that you don’t cover or pet peeves you may have about PR people)?
4. Can you briefly tell me about a PR pitch that resulted in a story? What was it about the pitch or PR pro that sparked your interest?

Thanks so much for helping me gather this information.


Jim Bucci
Research Journalist
Bulldog Reporter
124 Linden Street
Oakland, CA 94607


  1. Tim says:

    You need to troll him, obviously. Are you new to the internets?!?

    There has to be some way to pull a Simon Jackman and get him to monitor Intrade for you.

  2. Paul says:

    Seems like a reasonable service to me. Back in high-school I worked at a small town newspaper as a sort of general assistant. One thing I'd do now and again was cut out pieces of press releases (usually the last paragraph) to make them look more like a news article, and these would get collected into the occasional circular (back to school, health, …). The press release would often be a reasonable article about something like eating healthy that happened to suggest nutritious options by company X.

    So if you run a publication that uses press releases as if they were content, being able to specify what you actually use would make the process of generating faux articles faster. But if you aren't an active editor/reporter, or if you only publish original/non-biased content, a junk folder's a good location for the email.