PitchWire: Improved Pitching for Publicists and Influencers?

Via Chris Pirillo, I learned about Pitchwire. From their pitch to Chris: PitchWire is an online community for influencers (journalists, bloggers and analysts) and publicists that promotes responsible pitching and transparency. The results are more successful “hits” and a better relationship between influencers and publicists.

Leveraging PitchWire’s patent-pending technology, you can create a personalized PitchWire page, your first line of communication (or defense in some cases) with the PR community. You can also find sources and content for an upcoming story and manage your pitches, sources and contacts in a CRM-like database (think of it as a MySpace.com, eHarmony.com and Salesforce.com all rolled into one).

Off the top of my head, this sounds a bit like The WeblogWire, which appears to have gone the way of all times.

Well, I'm (ahem) both an influencer and a publicist. Why don't I try out both sides of the service and pitch myself?

The web application is gracefully designed, and easy to use. I like that each influencer gets a sort of home page which publicists can check out. It'd be great if I could include a photo of myself (or a screenshot of my site), and publish an RSS feed of my latest stories.

They also generate little badges for you to include in your site. I can't imagine anybody wanting to get pitched this badly, but if you're thus inclined:

I do have some quibbles with the structure of the app. For one, I must identify myself as either a blogger, freelancer or journalist associated with an organization. I'm mostly a blogger, and on rare occasions, a freelancer. I know plenty of people, however, who fit in all three of those categories.

Also, the taxonomy of market segments is weird. For example, ther's only one 'beat' for 'Radio/TV/Film'. To my knowledge, few journalists and fewer bloggers cover all three of those segments. Plus, there's an 'Apparel/Textiles' beat, but not one for fashion? And nothing for the environment? Awesomely, despite there being a separate 'games and entertainment' category, World of Warcraft is listed under 'sports'.

Plus the make the usual problem of being exclusively American in their sign-up form. It seems like a third of all web apps regard the map of the world as the continental United States plus two island groups for Hawaii and Alaska.

Lastly, I want to be able to set a preference on how I get pitched. I had to enter a phone number in the registration process, but I really only want to get pitched by email.

The Pitch Cometh Over on the publicist's side of things, I set up an account and started out by trying to pitch myself (which just sounds rude). Oddly, there doesn't seem to be any search functionality that enables me to find influencers. Instead, the first step in the pitch asks for the influencer's email address. I gather that the influencer doesn't necessarily have to be registered in Pitchwire to get sent a message.

The whole pitching process is pretty smooth, and there's no way to just spam out a bunch of messages, which I can appreciate. On the other hand, it does feel a little mechanical. When I received my pitch, the language was a little stilted. Here's how it started:

Hi Darren Barefoot,

You have been pitched by Darren Barefoot of Capulet Communications.

From: Darren Barefoot Contact Phone: 604-727-5345 Contact Email: (removed)

Pitch type: Product News Beat: Hockey

Efficient, maybe, but a bit formal, no?

It's an interesting service, and I'll be curious to see if I get many pitches as an (ahem) influencer. As for Capulet, I think we'll be happy enough sticking with Excel spreadsheets and email.

Last week I heard about a similar Canadian service called Newsbureau.ca. The app is definitely clunkier, and the model is far less clear. I may write up something on them as well, though.