Tag Archives: WIRED

“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.


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Filed under Blogger Relations, New Media, Public Relations 2.0

“The Scarlet Letter”

I’ve been out sick for the past few days. When I get back, all heck has broken loose on the Internets.

Within the last week, a few bloggers and reporters have gone on rampages against “bad PR.” Does the punishment fit the crime? Is this a wake-up call? I’m not looking to stir things up, I just want to analyze the situation and see what we can learn from it.

The Times They Are a Changin…

Have you ever read an email, gotten really angry, hammered out a reply and hit send? A day later (or maybe 3 seconds later) you may have felt remorseful, but it was too late. Or what about those break-up emails that get circulated around? Each time I read about Mr X and his demeaning affair with Ms Y, I learned to wait a little bit longer before sending an email. This was part of the process of socialization as we grew into the Internet Age.

W ell, the times they are a changing. Now it’s socialization round two, but this time it’s not just email. It’s learning how to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any of the three social networks that have sprung up since I started typing this post. As in round one, there will be some blunders, some embarrassment, but when is it justified?

The Scarlet Letter

We’ve all done it: sent a reporter a bad pitch. Sometimes, not sure which particular reporter to pitch, we email an editor. Or maybe a boss made you use a pitch you weren’t happy with, but, HEY, it’s a job, right? Or sometimes you just miscalculate what a reporter will cover. It’s part of professional growth.

Well, some reporters are mad as heck, and they aren’t gonna take it anymore. Some get bad or poorly-focused pitches. In their blogs, reporters have posted full names and email addresses–or a name, Facebook address and picture. It suddenly feels like colonial times when criminals were forced to wear a letter or be shamed in a town square.

Ok, I’m not a super-star blogger, but I still get pitched. To those that are WAY off, I’ve emailed back “too commercial” or “not the focus of my blog.” It gets annoying, but I don’t want to humiliate anyone; they gave it a shot and they were wrong. In my mind, there are several unethical PR practices that deserve to be exposed and maybe shamed, but sending a bad pitch?

In my professional life, if I write a bad pitch, I hope the reporter lets me know. If I make a mistake, I’m sorry. We all have bad days.

As a blogger, I put myself out there to the world. People can email me, contact me through Facebook, repost my blog or talk about my bad grammar. By standing up to speak in a public forum, I expose myself. Even though this blog is a “hobby,” I put myself out into this forum and, to some extent, I become a public figure. I have given consent. Other PR professionals, however, are just doing their job.

The Internet has now become a record with pages being cached for years. It has also become a great place to stalk people. When you put someone else’s information online, it will be up there and available to anyone for a long time. Not everyone signs up for that.

Reporters and Bloggers: We value your feedback. We really do!! We listen and we adapt. I understand the impulse towards public outing may seem fulfilling, but just imagine if all your mistakes were broadcast to the world in perpetuity.

There are a few sites that expose bad pitches in a constructive manner without exposing personal information. They are quite effective. I read them weekly and have listed them in my blog roll. Your posts have just as much strength without calling specifics out.

In the words of Jerry Springer: “Be good to yourself…and each other!”

PS: Thanks to Marshall for apologizing and responding thoughtfully to comments and trackbacks. 🙂 Proof that people actually do engage in a conversation.

[UPDATE: Read my follow-up piece on blogger relations!]

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Filed under Blogger Relations, Citizen Reporter, It's A Conversation, New Media Masters., Rants