Tuesday, September 9, 2008

PR Idea of the Week


Back in 1998 I was working for a Fortune 500 Corporation in corporate communications under a PR Vice President who said to our repeated requests for funding and support for the corporate Web site and Intranet: I guess this Internet thing is not going away.

Fast forward a decade and I feel like I'm having the exact same conversations about blogging. I recently worked with a client who wanted all the press releases he could get about his new product. When we asked him about blogs or online forums and working to develop a pitch to them, he responded: We're not ready to engage them yet.

Huh? I was never able to convey to the client that once you sent out a press release, you were fair game to all the bloggers. And it would be better to approach them individually with offers for exclusive demo copies then let them come across a reprint of our press release. Or more likely, have them ignore us completely because we weren't catering to their style.

A new article in the Bad Pitch Blog brings home some facts that have been hovering around out there and now will be in my repertoire for making the case AGAINST press releases and FOR target pitches and dialog with bloggers: the MSM are dying.

According to the guys at Bad Pitch Blog, the New York Times just laid off another 500. Now frantic journalists who didn't have time for off-base pitches will be doing 5 times the work and have no time for even decent pitches.

One argument is that the media will need us PR people more than ever. Now that they have limited staffers to learn and cover beats. This is true but is it really worth your time to pitch the New York Times, when the blog that covers your industry and is read by all the top influencers gets twice the circulation/traffic?

I've worked my whole career in B2B public relations and I've had to cringe my way through umpteen plans that detail how we're going to break into the business media, i.e. WSJ, NYT, BusinessWeek. Why?

Are busy executives in your industry really reading these publications for business information? Maybe they get the WSJ for marketing and financial news. Maybe they read BusinessWeek to keep up with the latest on Google.

As I look at the behaviors of the executives I've worked with, it seems safe to say that more and more potential customers are getting their industry news--the news they base business decisions on--from reputable industry blogs, podcasts, and online versions of industry publications.

It used to be that the main challenge of public relations was getting past the "media gatekeepers."
Now the main task is getting by our own internal gatekeepers who, like the VP from 1998 just keep thinking (hoping) this whole blog thing will go away.

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