Posts Tagged ‘Jason Falls’
Yes, there’s another PR upheaval going on folks. By now I am sure you’ve heard about Michael Arrington’s Death to the Embargo post over at TechCrunch. If not, go take a read…I’ll still be here, pacing around while waiting to hop on my soapbox.
And after reading Valeria Maltoni’s post The Break up: PR and Media on News Embargoes and Jason Falls’ post Is the Future of Advertising Public Relations? (BTW, both excellent reads if you haven’t already), I felt the need to jump in and share my opinion.
What, you may be wondering, has me deciding to be vocal? Well, these two comments for starters:
Michael Arrington: “Tech companies are desperate for press and hammering their PR firms for coverage on blogs and major media sites. That in turn means that PR firms hammer us to get us to write about their clients.”
Jason Falls: “I say new-fashioned because old-fashioned is sending blast emails to hundreds of media outlets or bloggers and calling it a day. New-fashioned is reaching out personally to individuals to build a relationship and working with them to meet their needs and yours in symbiotic fashion.”
Fail! As in F-.
It’s the PR agency’s or internal PR person’s job to educate and advise the client or company on how to best reach any media outlet whether it’s print, on-line or a blogger. And this includes being able to stand up and just say no. If you don’t have the courage it takes to say no to pitching the wrong publications or outlets, to say no to CEOs and VPs who want to see their name in print for no other reason than vanity, to say no to spamming anyone, anywhere… you really need to rethink your career. You ARE the trusted advisor and you ARE the voice of the client/company and you ARE tarnishing both by not saying no (within reason and when it’s most important, of course).
It’s the PR agency’s or internal PR person’s job to build the necessary AND trusting relationships with journalists, reporters, blogger, etc. This isn’t anything new. This is, um, public “relations.” How difficult is it to understand YOUR audience/community? To read their articles or blogs? To learn how they think, understand what makes them tick? Know the industry and respect that they are stretched way thin and always awaiting a pink slip. How about giving them what they need so they might return the favor one day? Really, you don’t have an hour or two a week for relationship building? And if you work for an agency or company that won’t let you take the time to build relationships or understand the people you need to reach out to, you need a new job.
I should point out that the ‘fail’ isn’t reflective of Michael or Jason…just the notion of the comments. I know, trust and highly respect Jason. These comments are just symptomatic of what’s going on in our industry.
PR people, please step up and stop the madness!
Do you know how many years I have been hearing these complaints from journalists, reporters, etc? Seriously, Michael Arrington isn’t new to the complaint department; he’s just overly vocal because he has a line of people willing to take a ticket and listen to him. And this certainly isn’t a new challenge because of the advent of social media or blogger relations. Ask any print or online journalist and they’ll tell you the same thing. They have had this same issues for years. How have they responded? By deleting your e-mails, ignoring your calls and throwing out your packages. (Oh, and now, those on Twitter want a pitch in 140-characters a la TwitPitch. How’s that for pressure?!)
Oh yeah, and remember Whack-a-Flack (circa 2001)? I am sure anyone who’s been in this business longer than a blogger does (seriously it was all the buzz!). In case you aren’t familiar with it, here’s the introduction:
Tired of pushy PR flacks and overzealous young account execs huffing breathlessly over the virtues of the next Useless.com? Feeling bombarded by inane hype? Here’s your chance to give them a taste of their own… media kit.
Choose the PR agency that you’d like to give some comeuppance to. Let us know why they’re being whacked. Then have at ‘em with our Whack-a-flack Shockwave game.
My, how nothing has changed.
What are your credentials Beth Harte?!
Yeah, I know what some of you might be thinking. Who is Beth Harte and who the hell is she to tell the PR industry what to do?!
I’ve never worked for an agency. I’ve always been on the corporate side (until now). I’ve worked for companies where I was the PR lead (i.e. pitching, developing relationships, and writing all by my lonesome) and I’ve worked for the companies where I managed PR agencies and internal PR processes (private, public and a Fortune 500). I also teach PR at Immaculata University.
In case you are wondering if I can walk the walk, well, let’s just say I’ve almost lost my job twice for saying no on more than one occasion. In fact, given that I was eventually laid off from both those jobs, I’d venture a guess to say it had something to do with it. And I am okay with that…it’s called having professional integrity (and I take the PRSA Code of Ethics seriously).
I’ve carried media relationships with me from job-to-job and well, for obvious reasons, it’s very helpful. I’ve also been at the end of a journalistic rifle more than once. Having relationships in place helped neutralize potential crisis situations and spared me from being shot, fired or both.
Last thoughts while on the soapbox and before I duck flying arrows…
Folks, bad PR practices spread like a virus. And make no mistake our industry has always been infected…it’s just a virus under a giant microscope now and that’s not going to change.
And before you start loading the bow, let me just say that there are A LOT of agencies and PR people who are doing it right, they understand and respect the importance of relationships. (Example, Tim Hurley of Blue Point Venture Marketing who pitched me on his client’s latest news. Tim sent me a TwitPitch followed up by an e-mail.) As well, there are bloggers who don’t skewer PR folks for that day’s shish kabob lunch. The challenge is that we all need to work together to change the industry.
I know it’s a hard pill to swallow, but journalists and bloggers need to educate PR folks on how to get it right. And PR folks need to listen to them, HEAR what they are being told, and put it into practice (immediately, if not sooner).
Jumping off the soapbox for now, but sticking around to hear your thoughts. Can we pull this change off together?
P.S. Oh yeah, please don’t tell me what an arrogant ass Arrington (alliteration not intentional, it just is) is. Really. Pretty please? This isn’t about him. This is about opening up a conversation to make the PR industry, hopefully, move in the right direction. Maybe I’d have better luck with an ocean liner…
Even More Goodness! Related Posts:
This is a great project to collect what is just the start of some best practices. And I say a start because some of us are still new to learning about social media and implementing social media marketing. That said there have been a lot of successes and that’s the best part of being involved in social media—we all learn from one another.
Here are just a few best practices that have been shared so far:
- Consistency (Mitch Joel)
- Embrace your Audience (Jason Falls)
- Listen and Add Value (Kipp Bodnar)
- Listen (Chris Brogan)
- Be Human (Kristie Wells)
- Reach out to others (Morriss Partee)
- Lift up others! (Drew McLellan)
- Honesty & Respect (Paisano)
The best practice that I would like to add is: Provide a Platform
Marketers are so accustomed to ‘talking at’ their customers instead of ‘talking with’ their customers. And typically when two-way conversation occurs, it happens infrequently at events, tradeshows, off-line forums, customer council meetings or during that once a year customer satisfaction survey.
Why wait for those limited occasions? Why not provide an on-line platform for your community that gives them a place to express themselves, interact and engage? (Remember the rule: two ears, one mouth).
Providing a platform could mean starting a blog or a new on-line community, but not necessarily. There are a lot of other great ways to provide a platform and you can always join one that exists.
Here are just a few:
- Ning (Social Networks)
- Second Life
- Interactive Webinars
I am sure there are more ways to provide a platform. What would you suggest?
Once you have selected the platform that works best for your community, be sure to follow the above best practices! In the meantime, Chris Brogan offers some great advice for getting involved in social networking.
Even More Goodness! Related Posts:
A few weeks ago Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer suggested in a post that social media is the responsibility of public relations. My visceral reaction to that notion required an immediate comment [note: I am a PR practitioner as well]. And it didn’t end there; I spent the entire weekend thinking about the post. Come the following Monday, I went back for another comment to strengthen my position on why social media is the responsibility of marketing. In doing so, I noticed that Brian Solis of PR 2.0 posted a comment: “Truth is that Social Media is the responsibility of the champions that demonstrate how it will benefit the company and the brand.” Interesting.
In the spirit of debate, I then posted this topic on Plurk to see what the smart folks there had to say. Frank Martin of Marketing Magic plurked: “this debate is so old school it misses the point of New Media, which will cut across all aspects of companies: Marketing, PR, Customer Service. We need NOT to put it in a little box of yesteryear’s definition!”
In reading Frank’s comment [and others] I realized that I was indeed stuck in a “marketing box” and looking at social media through a cracked lid.
After some consideration, I’d suggest that social media is the responsibility of the revenue generators. How so?
- Customer Service/Technical Support provides support for purchased products/services
- Finance/Accounting collects payment for the product/service
- Sales sells the product/service
- Marketing Communications/Public Relations publicizes the product/service
- Operations/Manufacturing delivers/builds the product/service
- Engineering/R&D designs/tests the product/service
- Marketing develops the product/service
- Human Resources hires the people that develop, design/test, deliver/build, publicize, sell, collect payment and support the product/service
Before becoming a social media champion consider becoming, if you’re not already, a brand champion first. Doing so just might create the brand pride necessary to get employees to understand, embrace and champion social media initiatives.
- explaining that the value of a brand—first & foremost―comes from the inside-out and bottom-up
- embracing that the brand is a living, changing thing—it can’t be controlled
- understanding that all brand experiences affect revenue—positively & negatively
- respecting that a brand is owned in part by the prospect or customer
Are you stuck in a box? Do you think brand champions will help social media efforts? What other steps would you recommend?