Hey dude, you're confusing me…

I just came across a weird piece from Infoworld’s gossip column this week: 

“Keep the perception man … anytime I can see a flip mo like this, it’s a beam of light.”

I received these words of praise (I think) about one of my many recent swipes at Microsoft. The strange part is they came from an account rep at Waggener-Edstrom, Microsoft’s PR powerhouse. Memo to Ballmer: I don’t know what you’re putting in the water up there, but I think you used too much.

I haven’t anything to add to that really. Very strange.

Survey: PR people are…

Someday in the future, probably a long time in the future, a survey is going to appear which has a stunning set of findings. Those findings will include the discovery that journalists are overwhelmingly happy with how PR people deliver information, liaise with them etc.

Unfortunately I’ll probably read that study from a nursing home, but I’m confident it will appear.

In the meantime we’re stuck with surveys which find that PR people are simply doing a bad job of targeting, informing and engaging with the media.

The latest is a very detailed study (PDF) from the UK sponsored by the “Internet Press Centre” measuring “is the PR industry using online effectively to communicate information to the press”.

You won’t be terribly surprised when I tell you that the answer (according to the study) is a resounding no.

Among the findings:

  • Journalists believe the Internet is the most effective ‘reach’ channel.  PR managers believe face-to-face is best
  • 32% of journalist say that less then 10% of the press releases they receive are of genuine interest
  • The most popular reasons a journalist will read a press release are that it comes from a trusted source and that it originates from a company they follow. The third reason is an interesting subject line.
  • The leading pet hates when it comes to e-mailed press releases are poorly targeted stories, poor contact details and attachments

Here’s my take….

People expect more personalization on the Internet.  This isn’t just journalists, it includes customers and prospects.  It seems companies in general are bad at segmentation and building databases that cater for specific interests. This isn’t a PR-only problem, but it’s important nonetheless.

PR teams need to do a better job sharing information and intelligence, whether that is by using large databases or using new tools such as internal blogs

There is a clear difference (from the study) between the needs and desires of PR people and journalists.  There will always be differences and there are limits in how close you can bring the different parties together.

The corporate website is continuing to grow in importance for all audiences.  PR people need to get involved. 88% of journalists surveyed said they visit a company’s website when they’re writing a story. Of course our track record in this category is poor.  The one area we do primarily own, i.e. the online press room, still isn’t meeting the media’s needs. This is an area we can fix very quickly. It’s not like it’s a surprise to any of us!

Here’s hoping for utopia.

This is the last weblog-related post (for a while)…

OK, this is the last weblog-related post for a couple of (working) days at least. 

Reading back over the past week it seems the world is awash with nothing other than content about the wonder of blogs. I’m personally getting a little bored with it, so I can only imagine how my poor reader(s) feels.

So to finish off the current blog binge, there’s a survey that has just been released by Blogads which tried to discover what kind of people read blogs.

You’ll be surprised to discover that of the 17,159 blog readers that were interviewed:

“Exactly 61% …..are over the age of 30, and 75% make more than $45,000 a year….nearly 30% of the respondents are between the ages of 31 and 40…. over 37% spanned the ages of 41 to 60….. nearly 40% have a household income of $90,000 or higher.”

So if you’re reading this weblog, then statistically it’s likely that you are an affluent old fart.

Now while I would agree that it’s unlikely that a survey, sponsored by a company who sell blog-based advertising, would discover that no one reads or values blogs (it’s the equivalent of a survey about the benefits of white meat sponsored by the nation’s turkeys in November), the figures are interesting nonetheless.

Additional findings included that over 79% of blog readers (should the term be blogettes?) read blogs to get news that they can’t find elsewhere and over 77% read them to get a “better perspective”.

So that’s it.  No more posts on the topic of weblogs for a while.  I can feel the weight lifting from my shoulders already….


Thanks to Lean for the story!

You can read eMarketer’s summary of the research here.


Retro Marketing Plans

I have meant to post this link for a few days now.  It’s for those of you, who like me, are sad enough to be interested in old technology marketing plans.

It’s the launch plan for the original Apple Macintosh.

I first saw this plan in Guy Kawasaki’s book “Selling the Dream” where it’s reproduced as it was printed at the time.

The site also has a wealth of links to other related Apple marketing documents from the time.


Thanks to Caterina Fake for the link!

Blog Relations in action… a case study

MarketingSherpa have published a case study on how a small software company called CoreStreet have been using their CEO’s blog to boost awareness.

It’s an interesting case study, kudos to their PR agency Schwartz Communications for driving the initiative.

“I wanted to talk about the themes that made me want to start this company in the first place — how does security fit into the world in general. In CoreStreet communications we’re limited to mentioning specific products. We can occasionally mention the whole vision, but too much and our investors would want to know how much is abstract punditry and how much is return on investment?”

Usual proviso with MarketingSherpa content, it’s only free until June 26th.

Blog smlog…

There is loads of blog-related content flooding onto the Internet, here’s a selection of some of the more interesting ones…

 Stephen Waddington at UK-based Rainer PR has penned an article that provides an introduction to blogging.

“So what about blogs as a mouthpiece for business? At present power in the blog world lies not in the hands of corporations, but instead in the words of the individual behind the blog that is successfully spreading a given message.”

 Microsoft’s Heather Leigh who works in HR ponders when “blogging” will become a recognized skill.

“I hope that in the future, as the blogging trend expands, we will see people refer to these as �blogging skills� (I’m trying to think of something more catchy but it is not coming to me). But before we see this show up on job descriptions, I think that we need to show our companies how blogging impacts our business. A lot of it is about perception and we need to figure out how to measure it. We need to highlight the connection between our blogging activities and results.” (Edited)

 Time magazine has published a widely referenced article on blogging entitled “Meet Joe Blog”.

“What makes blogs so effective? They’re free. They catch people at work, at their desks, when they’re alert and thinking and making decisions. Blogs are fresh and often seem to be miles ahead of the mainstream news. Bloggers put up new stuff every day, all day, and there are thousands of them. How are you going to keep anything secret from a thousand Russ Kicks? Blogs have voice and personality. They’re human. They come to us not from some mediagenic anchorbot on an air-conditioned sound stage, but from an individual. They represent � no, they are � the voice of the little guy.”

 Australia’s CIO Magazine has a piece on “Blogging for Fun and Profit” which looks at the business implications of blogging.

Some tips from the article:

  • Have a dedicated staff willing to blog for your business (and compensate them for bountiful blogging).
  • Give good blog (that is, write relevant stuff that builds your brand identity and intrigues people, particularly potential business leads).
  • Build an audience for your blog via viral marketing to �link mavens and connectors�. Develop a link-rich blog where you list other relevant sites and blogs. For a good article read on how to do this: http://www.microcontentnews.com/articles/tippingblog.htm

And of course don’t forget Global PR Blog Week 1.0 from July 12-16, 2004 which will provide you with everything you need to know on blogs and PR.


Thanks to Trevor Cook, Robb Hecht and Steve Rubel for the links.

You horrible manipulating PR people…

In an article which can be filed to that folder entitled: “It says nothing to me about my life”, Luke Johnson in the UK Daily Telegraph “exposes” those horrible manipulative PR people who soil the common man’s newspaper with their dirty underhand tricks.


First of all, my personal belief is that for the vast majority of PR folks (>98%?) their daily job is as far removed from Johnson’s thesis as they can be.  The majority of PR people struggle every day to help clients to get their message out and communicate more effectively with their audiences though a variety of media from the press to newsletters etc. This isn’t exactly deep throat territory.

There are industries where PR people attempt to wield more control (Politics and Entertainment are two examples that spring to mind) over the media agenda.  And there’s no doubt that they are sometimes successful. 

But to brand the entire PR industry as a collective of manipulators who are trying to fool, cheat and lie to the general public is a load of tosh.

On a related note.  Surely it is up to journalists to expose shoddy PR practices.  After all, it is the journalist’s audience that is affected by such deceptions.  Journalists represent the filter between what the PR people want to promote and what reader’s receive.

Every week I hear horror stories about the entertainment industry theatening to withold access to certain celebrities should the magazine not conform to their wishes. It seems that these magazines are so desperate for circulation that they typically agree. Personally I’d like to see these magazines take a stand. Publish these “threats” and lead with front page stories about how “Celebrity X” threatened them. That might put an end to this nonsense.

These are the parts of our industry that give us all a bad name. They are many people’s perception of Public Relations. And as PR people know better than anyone, Perception IS reality.

My job isn’t about rough-handling journalists. I have had differences of opinion with them of course. But I have never stepped over the line in over thirteen years of media relations.

I am sick and tired of this conspiracy theory. Here’s a few realities:

1) Consumers are more sophisticated today than at any time in the past

2) The Editors of a magazine are responsible for the published content of their magazines.  That is their value. Should they tarnish that value by allowing PR people to manipulate them then they no longer deserve the patronage of their readers.

3) Spin doctors and A-list celebrity PRs inhabit a different world to the hundreds of thousands of practitioners who work hard to help clients to communicate better.

4) The sooner these “PR” people are exposed the better for everyone involved.

5) PR has increased in popularlity because organizations have realised the importance of good communication.

“With the expansion of the media industry, PR has moved out of the shadows and become a central part of the corporate world. Globalisation, advancing media technology and the rise of activist groups have all enhanced the status of PR.”


Robb Hecht and Trevor Cook both have comments on the opinion piece.

Analyst Relations update…

Posting has been sporadic recently as I’ve been travelling quite a bit and keeping up the blog has been difficult but normal service should be resumed now.

Whilst I’ve been away I have come across some interesting Analyst Relations stuff.

Elizabeth Albrycht has discovered Tekrati’s Industry Analyst Reporter which is an interesting new departure, a site that attempts to aggregate all the latest industry analyst news and research.  It’s definetely recommended if you’re working with Analysts.

I’ve also been exposed to Forrester’s Analyst Relations and Marketing Council which is a very interesting development.  Effectively, Forrester is building a forum for the PR and Marketing folks at their client firms to come together, discuss issues and learn more about Forrester.  It’s a very innovative program.  Kudos to Forrester.

Finally the Knowledge Capital Group monthly newsletter (The AR Insider) has some interesting artilces this month on the nature of analyst influence and working with analysts to get better market coverage. (I can’t find weblinks to these stories hence I haven’t included them, however you can sign up at the web site.)

Blog Relations… when the journalist bites back

Public Relations people need to be professional and ethical… that’s not exactly a news flash….

I always counsel people to approach bloggers with care.  When you mess up with a journalist you’re unlikely to see it in print. After all they probably wouldn’t have the time to detail the number of poor interactions they have with PR people every day.

Messing up with a blogger however, can often get you (and your client) published for all the wrong reasons.

Of course the rise of journalists maintaining personal blogs means that poor media relations may soon have a similar consequence.

Simone Paddock is a freelance journalist who was treated badly to say the least and she’s detailed the episode on her blog.

PR practice is becoming more transparent every day.  You need to make sure that the colleagues dealing with external audiences are well trained, professional and good with people!

“But the bottom line is: I love the rodeo. I had a great time last year  shooting the event. So I just might pay the money and go for fun. But I’ll be damned if I have the newspaper print any of the images to promote the Sisters Rodeo.”


Thanks to Hans Kullin for the link.