Tag Archives: flacks vs hacks

“Blogos and Journos–They’re Just Like US!”

Do you ever read Us Weekly? Yeah, yeah. Of course you don’t. 🙂 Neither do I…I just look at the pictures.

One of my favorite sections is “Stars–They’re Just Like US,” a regular section featuring photos of stars doing everyday things–just like us common folk. Pamela Anderson pays with a debit card–just like us! Reese Witherspoon shops in sweat pants–just like us! Jake Gyllenhaal washes his car–just like us!

What I like about this section is that it’s good to see stars looking not-so-shiny. Seeing them do the tasks we do in our lives also helps us appreciate them as “normal” people. When doing blogger or media relations, it’s important we remember they too are human.

Why am I bringing this up? Last week I was at an industry event chatting with a top-tier blogger, when s/he got a phone call from a PR person who was “just checking in” to see if the blogger was going to post their news. Bear in mind, it’s Midnight Pacific in SF, which means it’s 3 AM back on the east coast where the blogger lives.

I don’t know about you, but if anyone calls me after 10 or 11 at night, it better be an emergency–3 AM, and there better be a catastrophe!

I would have gone ballistic on the caller. The blogger, however, handled it well. When s/he hung up, I expressed my shock. S/he said “It happens all the time.” What makes it even worse is that, after polling several other top-tier bloggers over the past week, I found out that it happens to them, too.

Their painful acceptance made me cry for our industry.

Yes, bloggers are always on. And, yes, you’re doing your job to help them do their job better. But there *is* a line. Before you send an email, make a phone call, pitch them at parties, etc., ask yourself: “How would I respond to this action?”

Here are a few ways bloggers and reporters are JUST LIKE US:

  • They stress at having a full inbox with over a thousand unread messages, many that probably aren’t even pertinent to them
    • I can’t drill this enough: Know who you are pitching. If you can make it personal, do so. None of us like unnecessary email. Don’t send junk
  • They sometimes need to go “heads down” and hammer some work out
    • When you call, ask if they are on deadline. If they say yes, ask when the best time to call is or just apologize and cal again tomorrow
  • They like to forget work and have fun at parties
    • It’s ok to talk to them, maybe introduce them to a client. Use that time to get to know them as a person and then they may be more receptive to your news at a later date
    • Don’t, I repeat, don’t pitch them
  • They like their nights and weekends!
    • Don’t call them late at night. That’s just tacky. If you have a good pitch and a good relationship, then just chill.
    • If it’s late news, send the email. Follow-up in the morning. Period

They have grouchy bosses, demanding kids, bills to pay. They get angry, sad, happy. They have bad days and beautiful days. Yup, basically they are human–just like us. Be sure to treat them with the dignity and respect that we all deserve as humans on this planet.

What steps do you take before you engage with a blogger or reporter? What other ways are bloggers and reporters just like us? Let us know in the comments!

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Filed under Best Practices, Blogger Relations, Public Relations 2.0

“The Blogos Are Right. Tech PR Must DIE!”

It’s been a rough week for PR peeps. The blogos are right, tech PR is losing the fight. What do you say we kill off all our bad practices and start anew? By confessing all of our sins, maybe we can set them free and finally move on! (For a more conventional approach to blogger relations, check out our previous posts “Luke, I Am Your Blogger : How to Pitch From the Dark Side” or “ “How Media Relations Got Its Groove Back”)

I’m not being sarcastic. I’m ready to see tech PR die

Visualize with me:

  • Let’s burn blast emails.
  • Let’s hang (up) the phone to cold calling.
  • Let’s poison fluffy, fake press releases.
  • Let’s slash the idea that we can push the press into submission.

Good. Feel that weight going off your shoulders? That’s freedom.

Give yourself permission to start fresh start and do the following:

  • Imagine interacting as equals.
  • PR, clients, marketers and companies join the conversation.
  • Don’t just read content, interact with the writers.
  • Build relationships, both offline and on the Interwebs.
  • Produce meaningful content, don’t just push it.
  • Drop the fluff and get with the raw, insider view.
  • Give the mic and the camera to your clients.
  • Help them create and publish their own content.
  • Then one day, a blogger or journo might find it and reach out to you!

Yes. I confess. I’m not perfect. As of today, however, I’m liberating myself from the wrong deeds of PR pros past. Join me?

What practices do you want to kill off? Confess them in the comments. Also, how do you see PR changing and what do you want to see change? Let us commune 😉

Don’t miss out: Grab our RSS feed! [what’s that?]. Or start your morning with socialTNT in your InBox! Or read Chris 24-7 on Twitter!

[The above photo, “Paris – Île de la Cité: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris – Confessions Dialogue” by wallyg on Flickr, used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Best Practices, Blogger Relations, Public Relations 2.0

“Gina Responds! And: About Yesterday’s Post”

Late yesterday, I received the following email from Gina. My reply is further down the page:

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your email. My name and further explanation appears on the
wiki, which anyone can leave a comment on. (You just need to log into
PBwiki to do so.)

Also, as I say on the wiki, I welcome story pitches to tips@lifehacker.com.

Have a good weekend,
Gina

I also received some Tweets and emails saying yesterday’s post/email was a little harsh.

The post was about accountability, communication and education. If someone creates something that could impact people’s pocket books, that person should take responsibility for their actions. Especially if that person is already involved in social media and understands that nature of how it works.

On Gina’s blog and in her books, she helps educate people by offering tips and tricks to do things more effectively. That’s what was so irksome about the situation. She could have easily taken the same amount of time to write an educational post–or really any post at all–and could have positively affected the conversation.

My reply to Gina is below. As always, please feel free to comment.

Hi Gina:

Thanks for your email, and thanks for changing the wiki. I’m 100% for sharing opinions. I also 100% understand your frustration.

From what I can see from your blog, you and I both have the same goal: to help and educate. That is probably why I found your actions so upsetting. Instead of using your talent and skill to help people learn and perhaps prevent the mistake, you chose a negative action. You used your position of power and influence to negatively affect an industry on which you rely. You may say, “I shouldn’t have to educate people on how to do their job,” but you do it daily on your blog.

Check out these posts from Mashable and this one from ReadWriteWeb. By offering tips with best and worst practices, these guys are helping to make it easier for themselves and the PR pros that pitch them. After receiving several really really bad pitches of the course of a few days, I also posted “Luke I Am Your Blogger, How to Pitch From the Dark Side” as a way for me to vent my frustrations. It also allowed me to use my unique role as both blogger and PR pro to help others grow from my experience.

Remember, what you say/post can affect people’s pocketbooks. Please think about that and look to find ways to positively impact the conversation.

Thank you,

Chris

Don’t miss a post: Got RSS? [what’s that?]. Or, start your morning with socialTNT in your InBox!

[The above painting is by my favorite guerrilla artist, Banksy. His book says “Copyright is for losers,” so I don’t think he’ll mind if we use it]

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Filed under Blogger Relations, It's A Conversation, Public Relations 2.0, Social Media

“Unsubscribe Lifehacker: My Email to Gina Trapani”

This morning, the Twitterverse was a flame after Gina Trapani from Lifehacker tweeted a link to a wiki she had created. The wiki, PR Companies Who Spam Bloggers, is a ready-to-paste-into-your-spam-filter list of domains belonging to a good chunk of the tech PR firms out there. Her response, thus far, has been linking back to this blog post from Matt Haughey. [UPDATED: Gina emailed saying she had changed the wiki to include attribution and reasoning. See the email, my response and my reasoning behind this post here.]

In the past, socialTNT has responded with blog posts on how to increase communications (you can find those here and here). Since there is no attribution on the wiki, I had no clue who had created the until someone shared Gina’s original Tweet. Because I found this semi-anonymous approach to be rather old-school in nature, I decided to send her the below email. It may be a little harsh, but the bottom line is that her actions affect the wallets of PR professionals everywhere. If you find my email to be a little agitated, you might prefer Todd Defren’s open letter to Gina or Brian Solis’ post discussing PR “spam.” Also, please feel free to unsubscribe Lifehacker from your RSS feed.

What do you think of Gina’s actions? Or my email? Please share your thoughts.

—————–

Hi Gina:

My name is Chris Lynn. I edit a blog called socialTNT. Our mission here is to create a discussion between PR Pros, Marketers, Bloggers and Journalists on social media and its role in our respective professions. While not as big as Lifehacker, we still receive a nice amount of traffic. I would love to expand socialTNT into something larger, but I don’t have a lot of extra time to invest. You see, I work full-time as a PR professional.

As a PR person in the new media age, I work daily with bloggers and journalists, sometimes through the phone, sometimes through email/twitter/IM. No matter what the medium, I try to devote 100% of myself to the process. I say “try” because we all have bad days, but it’s a job. I’m sure you have at least one post that wasn’t your best, so maybe you can empathize.

After I finish working 9 hour days, I come home and work on the blog. That can mean anything from reading through my feeds to planning the interviews, tweaking layouts, researching emerging tech, or just learning editing software. Then I write about it. I try to stay tuned into trends in media, marketing and PR–like I said, I don’t have a lot of time to write, but I do have a lot of ideas.

With my professional life (both with the blog and at the agency) I operate on these 3 principles:

  1. Accountability and as much Transparency as possible
  2. Communication and Conversation
  3. Education and Peer Development

Your wiki doesn’t do any of the above. [UPDATED: Gina emailed saying she had changed the wiki to include attribution and reasoning.] Sure, you semi-transparently Tweeted the link. Those who stumble upon the wiki won’t know this. By cutting off domains, you stifle conversation. Had you blogged the list, there might have been debate/discussion in the comments. Yes, Twitter is a discussion, but it’s not particularly contiguous, nor is it associated with the list. Finally, your post did nothing along the lines of education. In my eyes, your move was an aggressive one that came from a place of anger instead of looking towards understanding.

In the new media age, information is currency. By limiting the flow of information, you could find yourself bankrupt. Just remember: there’s always another up-and-comer in the wings who might just be a little thirstier than you. Oh, and another thing about the new media age: your audience is fluid. As soon as they find something better, they are quick to change their click.

In true liquid fashion, I’m exercising my right to click by unsubscribing Lifehacker from my RSS feed until the wiki is removed or until you start a more genuine dialog–on my blog or on your own. [UPDATED: Gina emailed saying she had changed the wiki to include attribution and reasoning.] I don’t support negativity. At all.

Just remember that your flippant actions and comments can affect the livelihoods of real people with real families. Please don’t take that lightly.

Best,

Chris

Don’t miss a post: Got RSS? [what’s that?]. Or, start your morning with socialTNT in your InBox!

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Filed under Blogger Relations, It's A Conversation, Public Relations 2.0, Rants

“How Media Relations Got Its Groove Back”

Bummed about recent media relations lovers’ spats? As with Mr X and Ms Y from the break-up email, sometimes the relationship between reporters and PR flacks can be on-again off-again. In any healthy relationship, communication is the key. You have to listen to your partner, try to get to know them, prove you have listened and then show them you care.

Here are a few pointers on how to get your blogger groove back:

  • How often does your wife get upset if you forget your first date? Bloggers/reporters care about that, too. Did you meet them at a MediaBistro or a Lunch 2.0 party? Follow-up and stay in touch, but stay respectful and professional.
  • KNOW YOUR BLOGGER. Know what they cover. Look them up on Facebook. Get an RSS feed and eye it throughout the day. Seriously. You wouldn’t (or maybe shouldn’t) book reservations at an Indian place if you knew your spouse’s stomach couldn’t handle curry, so don’t send a video game pitch to a network security blogger.
  • You don’t tell your partner you love them just on Valentine’s Day. Maintain your relationship, not just when you have news. It also doesn’t mean just through email. You can respond thoughtfully on their posts and participate in the discussion.
  • Wow, a teddy bear that says “I love you!” So cliche. Don’t just send a blogger a press release. The best way to get heard is to remain clear and concise. Fluff-free writing and bulleted summaries serve that purpose best. Better yet: blog it!
  • Like making a date, you have to be clear on embargoes: When and what time?
  • Sometimes when your lover is ready to go, they are ready to go and you have to jump in bed at moment’s notice. Since blogs and online news run on a different cycle, you have to be available for quick follow-ups or briefings.
  • Ok, so maybe you can’t find Mr/Ms Right. There are plenty of fish in the sea. Don’t limit yourself to Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. Look at tier two and tier three bloggers. Maybe their beat is more closely related to your product or pitch.

Traditionally, PR professionals would build relationships with reporters: meet for coffee, have the occasional social phone call, send thank you notes, etc. Today, we don’t have to have those offline, real world relations to build reporter rapport. With the advent of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn we can see casual sides, share interests (music, movies, hobbies), and engage in thoughtful conversation. But, you still have to do your homework.

We are all learning this together. Hopefully, too many witches won’t have to be burned before we get it right.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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Filed under Blogger Relations, New Media, Public Relations 2.0