Public Relations Train Wrecks in the Interactive Biz: Disaster Can Be Avoided!

Aug 20, 2007 - 6:21 pm 1 by

Panel Include: Rebecca Lieb - ClickZ Brad Berens - iMedia Communications Kevin Ryan - Incisive Media

Kevin introduces himself. Then introduces Brad Berens, Cheif content office of imedia communications Introduces Rebecca Lieb chief editor of the ClickZ network.

Brad Berens Increased hunger for attetion from companies. Unclear from emails, that the companies have any clue who the publication is or anything about it, including who their audience is. Boiler plate press releases are not liked, these can be a few lines, to pages line. Ideally, in the upper quadrant have "who i am, why am I writing to you" type of information. No matter much you automate and narrowly refine your list, ultimately this is a relationship business. People who are valuable are the ones who understand this.

Bazooka approach to my masthead, don't pitch multiple people without cc'ing them, and then "diss" them. Editors know what their audience likes. So if you don't know if the story is appropriate, ask. Editors love to have those type of conversations.

-Know that publisher -Coordinate your teams -Be open to open communication

Rebecca Lieb Click Z does a lot of breaking news. Value is that they report their stories, they don't write from a press release. Reporters will call and verify information. If you put it out on the news wires, you are breaking your own news story. There are a million blogs, and now big publications that are now entering the space. If you blast it on the wires, you can get less traffic from the release.

Exclusives - Decide who the story is most valuable too. Is the publication sufficient enough to get play on the story? If you give exclusive, Click Z gives it bigger play across the network.

Embargos - ClickZ can do a better job if they get the information early. They can do a better job with the story. Don't think about it like Microsoft. They don't send out until 7 p.m. the night before for release the next morning 9 a.m. the next day. They need more than 3 hours to do a good job with the story.

They are reporters, they report news. If your CEO, executives or even PR people aren't available to comment - they won't go with the story.

Click Z is known for its expert columns. PR people don't understand that our relationship with our columnists is that of a journalist. Relationship is with the columnist, not with the PR person. Sometimes the PR interference is counter productive.

Examples of Train Wrecks -Send an email and 90 seconds later call to see if they got the email -CEO Dickhead momentum, PR sets up the CEO to prep the editor about the story, and he's on phone an goes through his Deck and won't get out of the presentation momentum as if it's a sales pitch. editor feels trapped and can't ask questions. If they don't listen to the Editor's questions, it won't get you far. -Using a column as a press release -Release that is headlined, "please post this to your site", if you want guaranteed placement you can place an ad -Batch and blast releases - "Dear Rebecca, are you going to be attending SES next week?" obviously this person didn't know her very well. -Be careful of the exclusivity that you have, and who you focus on. Remember people go on vacation, sick days, in flight, etc. Try not to pick "favorites" at one place, make sure your well rounded. -Don't just pick up the phone and call the person on the masthead. PR people shouldn't treat editors/journalists as their secretary -Don't make Top Editors the gate keepers

Advice for Folks who don't have PR Departments -Best blogs and corporate news sites and PR People, are the best because they aren't totally self serving. Sharing info that isn't all "me me me" all of the time -When your CEO sneezes it not news, your promos, new clients, etc., really not big news

Q&A Q: How important are multimedia to a story? A: It depends, if you are writing about campaign creative. Want to see the story before the show and tell. If its important to the story then its needed. Graphs can be tough, if you are doing a chart is needs to be substantiated and need the methodology. (Survey Monkey vs. Neilson really isn't a good)

Q: How do you take it to the next step after just releasing a press release on PR Wire. A: Set up a briefing and demo the product/event before your officially release it. Show how it works before the press release goes out, so the writers can do a better job on the story. Vendor pitches get stopped, but creating the relationship is better. What does what you are selling affects my audience, it will go farther. Who are your customers and what are they reading - you need to know them.

Q: Edelman / Walmart problem, what would you do to mitigate the problem? Crisis had broken, how do you mitigate it online? A: The real question is how is it going to be handled, don't run around like chicken little. Handling things in an open and transparent way is the best way.Chevy Tahoe handled it a great, totally open, never censored the negative. Don't lie, don't overreact, be honest, don't hide from journalists. Be aware they will investigate, you can affect how negative by being open and truthful.

Don't capitalize on national disasters and tragedies. Don't say "if they had our product it would have...... " This will just create a bad PR.

As a PR professional who blogs you need to think do you want to compete with your audience you are trying to reach?

Q: If you predecessor has set a bad stage, how can you change the bad blood? A: Just send an email and introduce yourself as the new person. It also works both ways, if the editor/journalist burnt the relationship.

Q: Bloggers getting a lot of play but they aren't true journalists. Do you think that people will turn back to real news sources? A: Depends on the blogger and the industry. Issue is magnitude vs. quality. Won't be a wholesale abandonment of blogs. Issue right now is, the pie of adversting dollars is getting split, is there is enough to go around. No medium has ever replace its predecessor - interactive is not going to replace tv, radio print, but it will shake things up.

Q: Do you look at Google News, Yahoo News, or PR Web for news tips? A: Press releases are pretty commoditized, once they are on the wire. ClickZ and iMedia give a better more in-depth story and analysis on the story. The main-stream (wsj, new york times) report, ClickZ and iMeida understand the story.

Q: Do you look at the headline or the message when its on a wire? A: Once its on the wire, you've broken your story. But they look at the message. Less likely to trickle up if its on the wire. More play if its given to the publication directly.

Greg Jarboe comments - Universal Search is a huge factor now, because it now incorporates news into the SERPs on Google.

Parting Advice: Relevance and Relationships - don't be 100% self interested 100% of the time. Its a relationship business, we're all interested in interactive getting better. Don't be shy, but please remember there are a million other people that have the same job as you.

Liana “Li” Evans is the owner and editor of Search Marketing Gurus, and is the Search Marketing Manager for Commerce 360.


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