Posts Tagged ‘Valeria Maltoni’
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:
Being fairly new to the social media scene from a business perspective (i.e. implementing social media for business), I hesitated about writing this post. Then I decided that I needed to… if only to, perhaps, offer a different perspective to a recent social media campaign.
This week the team at Edelman selected 25 bloggers to debut Pepsi’s new can design. Very exciting, right? Since I read Mack Collier’s, Chris Brogan’s, Shannon Paul’s and Valeria Maltoni’s blogs daily, I saw each one post their experience and perceptions day-by-day (in that order, which was interesting to me in and of itself). I am not sure who the other 21 bloggers are, but if I find out I’ll be sure to add on to this post with their experiences. (Apologies in advance to the other 21, but I haven’t had the time to sort through everything on Twitter.)
Mack didn’t reveal who the company was; he just mentioned that it was one we all knew. Chris missed a few key components of the ‘analog’ campaign, Shannon did a video unveiling with her friends Ken Burbary and Craig Daitch, which was totally cool because we as viewers could experience it firsthand. Valeria took pictures of the packages she was sent and added some brand thought leadership.
Here’s the thing. While it’s cool to share this kind of excitement with fellow bloggers (and I give credit to Edelman and Pepsi for that, who wouldn’t want kudos and word of mouth buzz from colleagues in this space?), wouldn’t have been better to engage Pepsi evangelists?
In just one Google search I found:
- The Pepsi Fan Club
- Pepsi Collector’s Club (They have local chapters in Chicago and Southern California!)
- Mike and Joanne at the Pepsi Collector (they have had over 67,000 views!)
Evangelists LOVE your company and your products…hence the name, right?! As Mack Collier put it so eloquently: “Evangelists for this company would have gone absolutely apeshit over the packages!” Just think of how explosive this could have been if Edelman/Pepsi reached out to any of the above social networking sites that they built themselves based on the love of Pepsi. WOW!
If I was doing social media for Pepsi (a dream, I know), here are 10 steps that I might have thrown on the table:
- Join the above forums/groups and listen to what the Pepsi evangelists are saying.
- After a bit, join the conversation. Let them know that they are loved in return.
- Share some exclusive Pepsi goodies with them.
- Ask the groups how they feel about the current packaging.
- Share some ideas about some new branding concepts.
- Get their feedback.
- If, and only if, feedback is positive about a new brand, select 25 members and ask their permission to mail them a surprise package.
- Get their reaction to the packaging.
- Utilize their excitement (with their permission, of course) for exposure outside their community (i.e. traditional marketing)
- Continue the conversation…daily, on-going, as long as the community exists. (i.e. DO NOT use the community for your branding efforts!)
These are just my ideas. What are your thoughts? Do you like the campaign? How would you have handled it? Does social media work within the chamber? Am I missing something?
If you are Edelman or Pepsi and see this post, please stop by! Inquiring minds would love to know how the campaign came about and your objectives for blogger outreach! Thank you in advance.
Added 10/30/08: Darryl Parker has been tracking the Pepsi 25 and his conversation with Edelman’s Pepsi’s B. Bonin Bough over on his blog, Employ the Web!. Check it out for more insights on this campaign.
Added 10/31/08: David Armano’s post on his experience: Classically Un-Classic.