Today’s post is written by Lisa Gerber.

Roles are reversing and tables are turning so fast my head is spinning. Just watch your LinkedIn updates and you’ll understand what I mean. Someone to whom you paid little attention all of a sudden has a job with a company that is a prospective client. That kid you bullied in high school now works where you just interviewed for a job.

Journalists have been migrating to public relations, and PR pros have become editors and publishers. So what does that mean for a former journalist turned PR pro, who is pitching a PR pro turned editor who used to pitch that very journalist? Are you dizzy yet?

I had a recent interaction similar to the scenario above. A former journalist turned PR pro was pitching us on behalf of their client. They wanted to do a big promotion on Spin Sucks, but there were a number of problems. And they all violated Pitching 101, which made me scratch my head a little. Wasn’t this PR pro sitting on the other side of the table not too long ago?

  • Understand the blog and the audience: The idea just didn’t fit with our readership so we scaled it back considerably.
  • Flexibility went out the door: The deadline changed, and that didn’t work for the client. We have deadlines, and we expect you to stick to them. On the other hand, we might bump your deadline earlier or later if PR news happens; it’s a double standard, I know. But I deal with the same issue when the tables were turned. It’s the nature of the publishing business. It’s your option to be flexible or not, if you want the coverage.
  • We are also understaffed: Just like you were in your newsroom, we are inundated with email both relevant and irrelevant, and requests to partner on major promotions, and creative ideas to give their clients exposure. It might be a good idea, but it turns out this blog is not our only job. We are also running a business and servicing clients. Our time is very limited to execute your elaborate plans to benefit your client; no matter how brilliant your idea.

It was a minor incident, that required simple communication and it was done. But I write about it because it made me stop and think. The issue isn’t about bad pitching; it’s about a poor understanding of the concept of social capital; giving vs taking. We all want something from everyone, but the takers are looking at the wrong metrics. They are looking within and seeking personal gain. It botches up the approach.

We don’t just answer to our employer and our clients now. We answer to each and every person in our networks who might become a potential employer or client tomorrow.

The givers understand this. They build social capital because they love making connections and sharing their knowledge. As an example, we make a big deal at Spin Sucks to have guest bloggers that not only contribute and add value to the conversation, but who want to be here, and are passionate to share their knowledge; not simply to get their spotlight and their backlink.

There is a noticeable difference between the givers and the takers.

I’m suggesting we stop thinking in terms of who can advance our greater good today, and know that the tables will turn; everyone brings value.