Joe Nocera is a big fat idiot

Okay, maybe he’s not big and fat. Nocera, the curmudgeonly New York Times business columnist who has a long history of flagrant animosity toward PR people has had a flare-up.  Apparently, he had nothing of Joe Nocera, columnist, The New York Timessubstance to blog about so he holds up a PR pitch for ridicule. That’s an old trick that is supposed to showcase Nocera’s superiority and publicly flog a poor PR person while condemning the entire industry.

OK, the pitch is inane and Nocera is not a journalist you pitch about children as the new accessories or anything to do with “Brangelina.” Nocera is a serious guy who likes to hobnob with the titans of industry while maintaining the cloak of the ‘serious journalist.’

Several PR people comment on the blog post. Some point out how the pitch could have been improved (not that Nocera would take notice).  Some PR people and journalists remark, thankfully, how petty and mean it is to even bother with such a post.

File under, “Why we don’t need blogs.” What a cheap shot. Didn’t you have anything better to write about? If any of my writers filed this to me, it would never have seen the light of day, because it has NO READER VALUE. Bad blog posts are a dime a dozen, just like bad pitches. — Posted by Trade Mag Editor

Honestly, isn’t the worst part about this pitch — perhaps the only truly inappropriate part — the person to whom it was sent? Sent to a different person — say, a reporter at a lifestyle mag or perhaps a parenting Web site — this isn’t a bad pitch. — Posted by Mike Keliher

She’s just doing her job. I don’t think it’s right that you would embarrass her nationally just to illustrate your point that you don’t like the P.R. business. — Posted by Elizabeth



  1. Rob Jewell says:


    I commented on Joe’s blog. The fact that you didn’t mention that is OK. I know I’m not on the A-list of PR bloggers — and don’t give much of a damn about link love, or whatever.

    This wasn’t the worst pitch in history. But Joe Nocera has a point. Does the PR person here really think that The New York Times — and especially Joe Nocera — is going to write a story about that? No way. So why try?

    Well, there is money to be made by making the pitch regardless of what happens. And most PR people these days don’t have a clue what makes news.
    And like I mentioned, the fact that Joe thought it was so pathetic actually resulted in a placement in The New York Times. Go figure.

    By the way, I like reading your blog. You’re one of the few who actually have an opinion based on experience.

    Rob Jewell

  2. Mark Rose says:


    The A-List of PR Bloggers would be a sorry sight. Yeah, Nocera writing about your client, no matter how negative, can be construed as a “hit.” Often, as we know, PR people are generating pitches to automatically constructed media lists. Poor Amanda at Nike might not have even known Nocera was on the list. He might be tagged “Business” at “The New York Times” and she probably never read his work. I am sure that Nocera gets dozens, maybe hundreds, of pitches a day. Media relations is a tough gig no matter how you slice it and I empathize with Amanda at Nike. She worked hard to find an “angle” on her story and I bet it gets picked up at another outlet. Thanks for stopping by – experience has diminishing returns in this business.


  3. Mel says:

    Why do any PR firms pitch stories this way? Pick your target pubs/blogs, research the people who write there, and then put together a short, to-the-point pitch. Please end this spam crap. I have been in the PR biz for more than 20 years and the same mistakes are made today that were made when I started. Only problem is they are worse now due to all of the technology tools available. Oh, I also thought Nocera went overboard, but at the same time the pitch was lame and should never have been sent to him?

  4. Mark Rose says:

    I don’t dispute that Nocera gets a deluge of crap in his inbox every day. All efforts to kill mass pitches and stupid press releases seems to fail. It’s the way agencies run and the inherent waste of most traditional “media relations.” I can’t see pitching Joe Nocera any story at any time. He has an inherent mistrust of PR and I can’t blame (read ‘What is Ronn Torossian Thinking’ and ‘Andrew Cohen and the Lying Profession’. Unfortunately, we earn our reputation.

  5. Katie Paine says:

    This is no worse than half the entirely inappropriate pitches that come into MY inbox every day that have nothing whatsoever to do with what I write about. The only difference is that Amanda was stupid enough to send that bad a pitch to the NY Times. If I wrote about every bad pitch I got, I’d never have time to write about anything else, so I just report them all as spam and go about my business. The reason this crap happens, however, is as you correctly pointed out, an agency, and maybe the client as well, measures success in terms of “Hits” and “Eyeballs” even though Hits stands for How Idiots Track Success, and in this age of Google and social media, eyeballs are totally irrelevant unless they’re the right eyeballs. If agencies and clients measured success in terms of actually leads, or relationships, you’d see this sort of inanity disappear pretty quickly.

  6. Lou Evangelista says:

    I respect your financial column and admire you as a fellow Italian American of my generation. Now I hail you as a new convert to the Yankees. I was inducted in the early ’60′s to the Yankees cause by my neighbor across the alley in Astoria Queens since my dad was not, like yours, a baseball fan. During these long years sincew, I have passed on my allegiance to my son who has become such a fanatic that he has season’s tickets to the outfield bench seats (originally in Animal Section 39) and he now takes his old man out to the old ball game whenever I get back to the States. Hope you’re enjoying the Series as much as I am, living in Luxembourg while I keep my “mal occhio” charm around my neck.


  1. [...] Rose takes the New York Times’ Joe Nocera to task for Nocera’s outing of a PR person who was pitching on behalf of a manufacturer of [...]

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