As a freelance writer I get pitched a lot. I don't hit the delete key unless it's totally irrelevant. But I have to say there are several people who do take the time to ask if whom they represent is relevant, and they do their homework.
I had a pitch from a PR firm in the UK recently that really stood out. He promised he wouldn't flood my inbox, and offered an RSS feed as an alternative --something I opted for.
On a macro scale, how do you get to know an organization, its priorities, its strategic goals?
On Wednesday I was asked by a local firm to speak to a group of incoming account managers about strategic thinking and solutions selling. I used an example of how as 'transparent' as it may seem, a company's web site is the last place you'll find that kind of useful information. A Google search would be a hit or miss, unless you find a corporate blogger giving the inside scoop. Nor would a site map reveal the inner working groups, the nodes and the unofficial networks. Taking time to get to know this "inner-net" means putting our digital smarts aside, and falling back on our analog skills. I use the phrase "Think digital, act analog" (first used by Guy Kawasaki, I believe) to illustrate the point.
Bottom line: Take time to understand the analog networks. These power brokers, access points, nodes and human routers may not have a LinkedIn profile, but they sure make things happen!