“Amazon PR Tries to Dam the River of News; Flood Ensues”

Oh, Amazon, your recommendations know me so well–maybe not so much on the books (I purchased some X-mas presents for my brother one year, now it thinks I like encryption and security)–but music is spot on. I wish your PR department understood blogger relations nearly as accurately.

This evening, Read/Write Web posted an account of their trials and tribulations of dealing with Amazon’s PR. Here’s what happened:

  • A week ago, Amazon approaches RWW with a draft of the release under embargo until November 15.
  • RWW writes post covering Amazon’s news up after 12 AM EST.
  • RWW woke up next day to see emails from Amazon at 11:59 PM EST–one minute before release time–saying the news was on hold.
  • More emails from Amazon saying news was not true and was under embargo.
  • RWW and Amazon PR in discussion throughout the day with Amazon requesting post be taken down.
  • RWW says they will change the post if Amazon sends statement.
  • Amazon sends statement written in first person for the blogger to post. Check it out:

“Since the publication of this post, an Amazon spokesperson contacted me to clarify that no announcement was made in regards to support for Open Social. The Amazon spokesperson went on to say that Social network developers have been using the Amazon Associates Web Service to merchandise Amazon products (and earn Associates commissions) for some time. She indicated that Amazon would continue to provide developers with tools that allow them to choose the platform that makes the most sense for them regardless of the Social networking site they are building on. She pointed out…”

  • RWW blogger Marshall Kirkpatrick (appropriately) reacts with the follow disgust:

I cannot believe they’d send me text written in the first person and expect me to post it under my own name! Not to mention the really uptight language they’ve got that puppet named Marshall using!

Ok, so what went wrong here? Is it really a case of bad blogger relations? Let’s break it down and see what we can learn.

Here are my Amazon Recommendations:

  1. Drafts should never go out. If they absolutely must, then follow-up with the final when it’s available. If you aren’t sure you want it to go out, don’t send it out.
  2. The news cycle has changed–and not just with bloggers. Even traditional pubs will post news online before the print version hits. You can’t pull news by sending an email at 11:59PM and expect compliance. I believe most people will respect an extended embargo, if you make a reasonable effort at timely notification.
  3. Come clean. You made a mistake. It happens. Maybe some miscommunication happened btwn biz dev and marketing or it’s just not ready. Whatever, send a statement or, better yet, post a human comment on the “offending” blog. Don’t hound the blogger to take it off.
  4. (Most important): DONT WRITE A STATEMENT IN THE BLOGGERS VOICE FOR THEM TO POST. Sorry for shouting, but, seriously, you just don’t get it. That assumes SOOO much. And you know what happens when you assume? You make an ass out of u and Jeff Bezos. PR pros should never ever ever tell someone what to write, especially not a blogger!

So, yeah, Amazon will probably cancel my Prime account and I may end up with a horse head in my next order, but if it helps people understand good public relations, then it’s worth it!

Anyone else have any other advice to give to Amazon or aspiring PR folks? Have you ever had to pull news? How did you execute that task and how did it turn out? Love to hear your thoughts.

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Filed under Best Practices, Blogger Relations, Public Relations 2.0, Rants, WTF?

2 responses to ““Amazon PR Tries to Dam the River of News; Flood Ensues”

  1. Marshall’s post about this incident is fascinating. Maybe I’m just a simple guy who does his best to get by in an honest, effective manner, but this example is almost unbelievable. It’s just dumb at first, up until the point at which Amazon writes a “statement” on Marshall’s behalf. That is such a bold, arrogant, ignorant move. I can honestly say I wouldn’t ever have put that in the “bad idea” column it never would have crossed my mind in the first place. Wow.

  2. Great post, Chris. I’m shell shocked about the first-person statement. Certainly a ballsy (and ill-advised) move on Amazon’s part. I have to agree with Mike, since taking this tactic would never, EVER have crossed my mind as an option.

    I started writing a huge, long comment with my further thoughts on this issue, but then realized it would make a better blog post so I posted on Flackette instead. 😉 Check it out for my additional takeaways.

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