Archive for May, 2006

"Pitching, 2.0"

Here’s one idea on how Social Media might impact the editorial pitch process… Among the newfangled tools that’s most intriguing for its potential to impact Public Relations practices is "social bookmarking." Putting together the custom del.icio.us page for our template helped enlighten me to the fact that social bookmarks could literally help salvage PR from its critics. This is a place where PR can add legitimate value to the journalist. "Looks like a bunch of random links to me," you say? Au contraire. Done right, these tools will make the PR pro more strategic, more subtle and invaluable. Let’s examine The Old Way & The Social Media Way to pitch the press. Old Way:

  • Craft a clever, custom pitch.
  • Convince journalist to take a meeting (and do the bulk of the pre-interview research on their own).
  • Offer to help-out with additional materials and "anything else you need…"
  • Maybe send a god-awful press-kit in advance of the meeting, knowing full well that there were, maybe, 2 worthwhile paragraphs in the whole kaboodle.
  • Follow-up too diligently, until article breaks.
  • Ask journalist’s editor for an after-the-fact clarification to soothe pissy client CEO.

New Way:

  • Craft a custom del.icio.us page with lotsa links to relevant background info about client execs, market, products, previous coverage.
  • Annotate these links with the all-important "WHY," e.g., "this article from 6 months ago did a good job of summing up the market factors that spawned (client’s) idea."
  • Craft a clever, custom pitch.
  • Convince journalist to preview del.icio.us page and get back to you with questions.
  • (Convince journalist that the best person to answer these questions is your client.)
  • Suggest journalist subscribe to the custom del.icio.us page’s RSS feed, until the editorial process concludes, so that they can have 24/7 access to any relevant info that pops up in the meantime (courtesy of the PR pro’s diligent, on-going research. …More strategic!)
  • Conduct client interview & follow-up diligently.
    • But now, use updates (and associated notes) to the del.icio.us page to tap journalist via their RSS reader — which means fewer of those intrusive, unhelpful "anything else you need?" emails. … More subtle!
    • The PR pro is now as attuned to the story’s nuances as the journalist, and ultimately is far better equipped to pitch new angles on the same story, to additional reporters. …Invaluable!
  • If story sucks, reach out to journalist; but if all else fails and these inaccuracies could hurt the client’s business, help the client to blog about the errors — very, very diplomatically.

Again, I must add the caveat: this is bleeding-edge stuff and not right for 95% of your clients. It’s also too advanced for 98% of the media, I’d wager. "Too new, too funky, what’s an RSS feed, this del.icio.us thing sounds kind’ve dirty…blah blah blah." Lastly, this New Way will never, ever replace great writing nor a strong personal rapport with the media. But caveats aside – NEW does not equal BAD. NEW is the future. Today, we just get to peek at it. And prepare.

How Many Downloads of the Social Media Press Release Template So Far?

2 5 3 7 Back at the house but not "officially" back from vacation yet…but I got a few questions on this particular topic, so I wanted to share. Over 2,500 downloads so far.

The "Social Media Press Release" Debuts – Download the Template Today!

Today we debuted the first-ever template of the "Social Media Press Release."

This newfangled press release format has been baking since late February, thanks to the rantings of Tom Foremski at Silicon Valley Watcher. You can get the template in PDF form here, or at our website.

The template is 100% open to the PR/marketing community. No copyright baloney. We hope it can serve as a helpful guide to kickstart thinking about how we can evolve the PR sector. Maybe it can serve as a talking points memo to show to clients, to convince them to give it a try? Maybe you hate it? Maybe you’ve got some ideas on how to improve it? Let me know.

Love it or hate it, what is important is that the banal, unhelpful, cookie-cutter press releases of yore have outlived their pre-Internet usefulness. So, to announce the "Social Media Press Release template" (and to show how it might look in the real world) we also put out what may be the first ever press release to use this next-generation format, via PR Newswire.

As noted last week, Edelman has their own plans in this vein (also inspired by Foremski). We look forward to seeing how their version differs from our template. No doubt that with Edelman’s deeper pockets, it will at least have more multimedia components.

For now, we’re not so much hoping to impress, as to help. "Victory" will be achieved if our peers in the PR sphere start to download the PDF and tack it to their walls for future reference. As this concept evolves, it will be tracked at a purpose-built del.icio.us site. Please pay a visit, or subscribe to the del.icio.us RSS feed for the "Social Media Press Release."

UPDATE: Some kind words so far, from the PR blogosphere (thanks)! If you can, please do take a moment to look at the del.icio.us site … not just to keep tabs on the concept but, more importantly, in order to spur some thought about how a similar strategy might work for your own clients’ PR efforts.

Meanwhile, if you want to see how the first official Social Media Press Release looks in practice, click this link to the PR Newswire version.

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Wire Services Need a Swift Kick into "PR 2.0"

A key lesson learned from the debut of the Social Media Press Release template: the wire services are woefully(!!) behind. It’s still "horse & buggy" time at the wire services.

  • 24+ hours turnaround, and only during business hours? Responsiveness? – slug-like.
  • Very poor knowledge or utility when it comes to Web 2.0 stuff like del.icio.us, Technorati, etc.
  • Formatting nightmares.
  • The multimedia nature of these Social Media Press Releases = more $$$. This will be a deal-breaker for some clients.

Interestingly, Mr. Buffett’s pet, BusinessWire — with whom we’ve enjoyed a warm relationship for years — was worst of all. PRWeb was pretty good, but clearly not as up-to-snuff as they’d have you believe. Ultimately, PR Newswire was the acceptable middle ground in terms of funtionality and breadth. Their MultiVu was the best of the bunch. I wouldn’t hold them up as a shining example, though (mostly due to their 24-hour, business-hours-only policies, which seem out of step with today’s 24/7 culture). You can argue that this is "bleeding edge" stuff, but, c’mon — it also ain’t rocket science. Everyone has some hard work to do in this arena. Giddyap!

Edelman + Technorati, Sitting in a Tree

Edelman & Technorati are teaming up to better localize, track & translate the global blogosphere. The intimacy of the relationship between a major PR firm and a major search engine raises fascinating issues. Here’s the official word according to the Technorati blog:

"Technorati and Edelman, the largest independent global PR firm, are announcing a relationship that’s all about supporting the international growth of the blogosphere.

"Technorati is accelerating the development of fully localized versions of our service in Chinese, Korean, German, Italian and French. These will be moving through development and testing over the coming months and will be complete, public products in early 2007. (Technorati today can show posts in 20 languages, but so far we’ve only done completely localized versions in English and Japanese).

"Edelman is providing support for this accelerated development effort and will have access to these new sites as they are in development and testing this year. They will be working with their international clients on how to listen to and engage the blogosphere. How to move away from one-way, command and control marketing towards the conversational era we’ve entered."

Certainly, Edelman is to be applauded – imagine the competitive advantage that this brings to the table when they are pitching for a global brand! Large consumer brands operate in a real-time, 24/7, global communications environment, and — at least until 2007 — only Edelman can now compete at that level. I am a li’l troubled by this move on Technorati’s part, though. Aren’t all PR firms and corporate marketers currently "working with clients on how to listen and engage the blogosphere"? Giving one agency an early, proprietary lead — if that’s what is happening (it is unclear just now) — seems to go against the grain of our open movement… Imagine if the recently-unveiled Google Trends had been exclusively available to Fleishman-Hillard, for a year before its public debut. How would that have made you feel? UPDATE: More troubling questions about this issue raised at the LooseWire blog, by WSJ columnist Jeremy Wagstaff. Edelman’s been keeping tabs on this conversation. But it’s Technorati that has some ‘splainin’ to do, if you ask me. When will the Technorati folks respond to all this, I wonder?




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