How I Dealt with PRserve

I read this TechCrunch post about banning PRserve with some interest, because I had an interesting email exchange with Chris Barrett, founder of that agency, some months ago. I'll just post the emails in full. I think they'll be instructive to people in this industry.

From: Dan Frommer

Subject: Fwd: Hi Dan - Intro and Pitching process for RWW


Begin forwarded message:

From: Chris Barrett

Hi Dan,

   I just wanted to reach out and say hi.  I was wondering what the best way to pitch RWW would be?  I have a PR for startup agency and this past year we have worked with startups and founders from Neil Patel and KISSmetrics to Ryan Holmes at HootSuite to many startups going through Dreamit Ventures and TechStars incubators.

We never send the same pitch out to dozens of tech outlets.  We like to be super targeted and as much as we can pitch exclusive pitches to individual tech outlets.

Most of my clients prefer to have us pitch TechCrunch or Mashable first, but I'd love to start to offer them the opportunity to pitch RWW on some of their exclusives.  What would the best process be for this?

Would you also be open to receiving pitches if TC or Mashable runs the story first and we allow RWW to be the 2nd story within the hour of the initial story going live?

What is the guest post pitching?

Let me know!  Just want to figure out the best way to work with your team!

We've placed over 200 tech stories this past year and would love to add RWW to our outreach!


Best regards,
Chris Barrett

Here is the email I sent Chris in response:

Hi Chris,

Dan Frommer passed your note along to me, and I want to make sure you get a thorough answer to your questions.

We are opposed to the very idea of story "placement" by PR. We do not care about embargo times or "firstness." Most importantly of all, we are not interested in writing the same stories as anyone else.

We do our own reporting, we find the stories that interest us, and we reach out ourselves. We do happily read incoming pitches from start-ups, but we're only doing so to look for relationships with companies and individuals who seem interesting, and those are rare. In short, we almost never get our news from unsolicited email.

We don't have any interest in the vast majority of things published by TechCrunch, let alone Mashable.

We have no interest in scripted launch events, nor do we care about usage statistics from a single product unless they are statistically significant. We only run infographics if they're prepared by trained scientists. I would estimate that we are interested in less than 5% of the email PR pitches we receive.

As far as what we do cover, think of it this way: We write about trends, not products. Tech products and companies for us serve as examples of trends in the economy and society, not as the core of a story. We'd rather watch something unfold over a long period of time than write about a brief snapshot of it. Check out this guide I wrote to pitching ReadWriteWeb, and feel free to circulate it widely amongst your colleagues:

I hope that helps. If it sounds like we can work together, I look forward to it. But please be respectful of our time and unread-message counts. We're very busy reporting, and we don't have time for incoming email that doesn't help us do our jobs.

Thanks for reaching out,

Jon Mitchell
Staff writer, ReadWriteWeb
@ablaze | +Jon Mitchell

His reply:

Hi Jon,

Thanks for your email and I'm sorry if the email came off rude in anyway.

I never pitch an outlet that we haven't had prior contact at... and I truly appreciate you taking the time to respond to the email and letting me know what RWW looks for in stories.

I'll be sure to let you know if I have any clients who are part of a larger trend that would be a fit for RWW.

Thank you so much for your time!

Best regards,



Sounds good, Chris.

Why should there be any more to it than this?