Flacks need to lighten up…

Interesting post by Bernard Lunn on ReadWriteWeb regarding how PR people need to adapt to meet a changing world, with different expectations.

…The Internet makes command and control models pretty obsolete. Sure, some data has to be controlled. The financial results for a public company need to be issued in a certain way to comply with SEC regulations. But that’s about it. Whether you use a newswire service or your blog, the key is lighten up on the process and get into the flow. That flow may be a blog, or Twitter, or Facebook or any of the above and more. The general point is simply about availability and transparency.

If you really have a great story to tell, that will get even the most jaded journalist interested.

Public relations needs to evolve from gatekeeper and process manager to coach, helping the front line managers work effectively with media and the market. That assumes that their clients are enlightened enough to give them that mandate.

Worth a read.

By the way the comments have the usual mix of interesting, irrelevant and ignorant comments, though as always, worth a browse!

Measuring Smeedia (and PR?)

Shel Israel has published an interesting video interview with K.D Paine on measuring social media – and the difference between measuring social media and PR.

[Personally I think the two should by synonymous]

Interesting chat and worth a view.

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K.D. has some interesting posts on this issue, including a look at the number of different categories of conversation.

 

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PR Spam: The post I meant to write

Often I find that one of the defining characteristics of a burning online issue is a lot of hyperbole, coupled with people taking themselves far too seriously as the self-appointed defenders of what’s acceptable in “their” online universe.

They should chill out.

Don’t get me wrong we should call out laziness, stupidity and malpractice but let’s keep a sense of perspective and reality.

I had meant to try and put some of these thoughts down, but I regretfully didn’t.

This was one of the reasons I was cheered up when I read Neville Hobson‘s post today: PR spam is mostly the result of being careless.

What’s my definition of ‘PR spam’? Any one or all of this:

  • The product or service being pitched by email is so obviously not one that I would have much interest in, a fact that would be very easily apparent if the pitcher had taken even a cursory glance at this blog or listened to my podcast.
  • The email includes an unsolicited Word document attachment. And it’s worth noting that not everyone uses Word. I do but the pitcher doesn’t know that.
  • The pitcher writes a pseudo-friendly greeting but it only looks like a bad database mail merge. My favourite: “Hi, Neville ,” (notice the space between my name and the final comma). A close second is the simple “Hi ,” with that same space (yes, I’ve had lots of emails like that).

Mostly, I regard such PR spam is just another consequence of being online and being accessible. You know, along with the email offers for knock-off replica watches, Viagra and other sexual performance enhancements, and winning the Euro lottery.

The only addition I’d make is that I’d include the words “lazy” and “stupid” “silly” to “careless”.

Read the full post and there’s some good stuff in the comments.

Thanks Neville!

Note:

My son reminded me that silly is a better word :-)

PR and Smeedia Round Up

 

Kami Huyse has a great post on "online reputation management in a Google world". This is a constant weakness for PR people so have a read and click through the presentation.

Trevor Cook links to part of a document on Edward Bernays, the "father" of Public Relations. Some of it makes uncomfortable viewing :-)

 

Andrew Smith makes a great point on the importance of analytics for marketing and PR moving forward. Online is a great medium for measurement and god knows that’s a sore area for PR.  As I always say as long as PR agencies view measurement as a "competitive differentiator" you know we’re having problems.

Eric Eggertson points to some interesting PR-related dialogue in the latest installment of the every entertaining TWIT podcast.

Eoin Kennedy points out that Irish Times journalists have started posting audio from interviews.

More on PR Spam-gate (last post on this..)

For the record a couple of other posts on this snafu:

Phil Gomes points out the issue was that people were using her PERSONAL e-mail address. [I hadn’t spotted that myself]

Jeremy Pepper pipes in on the same factoid, but makes a broader point about PR people not being trained in good practice in this area – and like Damien bemoans the lack of focus on relationships.

Susan Getgood suggests that blacklists just don’t work…

Are PR people arrogant about Web 2.0?

Damien Mulley has posted a very interesting and thought provoking comment on my post regarding PR spam.

I think it raises some interesting points….

The sheer arrogance from PR people on this matter speaks volumes. If what you’re pitching is so important to this blogger then shouldn’t they be coming to you?

Just because you have done some research and you are now highly targeting someone does not mean it’s not spam. It’s targeted spam. See? Still spam. It’s also a bit arrogant, yes you worked harder for that pitch, your work has value but it’s rich if you think you deserve respect and airtime from a stranger just because you worked hard.

Would you walk up to someone that just gave a speech and shove a press release into their hand or would you introduce yourself, say what you do, hand over a card and ask permission about sending something to them that may interest them?

Don’t pitch if you contact a blogger, ask can you pitch and explain why the pitch could be of value. No sell at all in an initial email/intro. “Hey Gina, this is what you do, this is what we do, any interest if *I* send you on some stuff from time to time or maybe you can dip in and out of my blog where I talk about these things?”

 

So PR community. What’s your view?

Update:

Jeremy Pepper makes a similar point.

The PR spam victims bite back… and the response…

Bad or irrelevant PR pitches are nothing new. 

Many of us, in our more quiet moments, will admit to probably not investing the time and effort we should have from time to time (a long time ago obviously :-) ). 

The key thing is to remember your mistake and learn from it. 

We’re seeing more journalists and bloggers publishing lists of PR firms they are blacklisting. [Ref: Chris Anderson last October]

Now a guy called Matt Haughey is doing something similar as has Gina Trapani.

See here and the PR Spammers Wiki for more details.

(For the more evil minded among you, although it’s a Wiki, you won’t be able to edit it without the right log-in.  You could always ask, but I get the feeling you won’t get a favourable hearing :-) )

Todd Defren, whose firm is on the list, has posted an “open post” (I am assuming that’s the correct blog equivalent…) to Gina.

I like it.  It’s conversational.

Brian Solis, whose firm is also on the list takes a different tack. (I have to admit I came away thinking about meat more than anything else and I’m not sure that was the objective!)

I hope that before any “holier than thou” PR person starts to crow, they stop and realize that we all live in greenhouses on this matter.

We should strive for best practice, reinforce the right and wrong way to communicate (online and offline) and reflect that sometimes mistakes happen, and sometimes people are more or less forgiving.

That’s not to say that I am adopting a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil stance on this matter.  To be honest, even this little blog receives a lot of “PR” pitches that don’t make the mark.

If you’re going to engage online, then for the love of jebus do some research.  That’s what Internet browsers and search engines are for…

On a related note, Alice Marshall offers some advice on the importance of being proactive before an issue arises rather than hiring shady companies to try and out rank negative blog posts.

Hear hear…

 

Web 2.0 needs to move towards quality…

I was catching up on my RSS and podcasts consumption when I found myself getting very stressed.

Listening to “For Immediate Release” (Episode #341) there was a listener comment from Mitch Joel, who raised the issue of how are we supposed to manage all this information, links, networks etc.

Mitch used Twitter as an illustration:

Currently, if you look at my Twitter profile page, there are 1577 followers, while I’m following only 545 people. It used to be the same number, but I’ve become a bit of a Twitter Snob. I found it increasingly difficult to follow many different topics of conversation from people I did not know, who were talking to (or about) other people I did not know on topics that were of no immediate interest to me.

It’s a real problem. 

For most people* all this stuff is in addition to the “day job”.

The growth in smeedia content from blogs, to RSS, Twitter, social networking etc. hasn’t, in most cases, been accompanied by a growth in the tools and technologies to manage that content.

Success is often portrayed as connecting to thousands of people or having thousands of people connect to you.  But the noise generated from these connections can also make them practically value-less.

Conversation is a term often bandied about concerning Web 2.0.  But conversation isn’t about trying to hold or understand the commentary of 25,000 people.

Often volume is the most lauded feature. Don’t get me wrong, volume has its place.  But I do find that the work generated by trying to manage Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. can be stressful and have a questionable ROI.

I think there is an ROI – which is why I continue to dip in and out, but volume isn’t everything (or the only thing).

For me, this proves we’re still at the early stages here and we’ve a long way to go.

There seems to be no end of individuals and organisations being able to ship volumes of content online, where it becomes compelling is where we get the tools to be able to mine, identify and use that data.

We’ll get there….

Footnote:

*This statement is not based on any fact or published research.  It is a rash generalisation – but it’s mine :-)