Archive for May, 2006

Edelman Pinches The "Press Release of Tomorrow"

This is kinda’ exciting. Earlier this week at the Syndicate conference, according to PR WEEK, Richard Edelman talked about…

releasing a "physical manifestation" of the reinvention of the press release in June. "It’s better to say, ‘We’re going to give you a set of info with tags and you organize it as you wish,’" Edelman said. “We’d rather have it in pieces as if it’s a b-roll and let bloggers make the news judgment.”

If you just can’t wait til June; if you want a physical manifestation of the Press Release of Tomorrow, today, just click this link and then hit "print" on your browser. ;) I wonder what Edelman’s version will look like. I wonder if it will become a new standard for our industry. I wonder what the clients will think. Seriously, all self-aggrandizing bias aside (it was Foremski who inspired us, anyway), I applaud Edelman’s move. I love it that a Big Agency is taking up the cause, and I love it that that Big Agency is an independent firm, not one of the intergalactic "marcomglomerates." If I could pick anyone (besides me) to be the 1st to pinch the cheeks of the "Press Release of Tomorrow" in the delivery room, it would be our industry’s leading independent. Hat-tip to Mike Manuel, and Josh Hallett, where I caught wind of these developments.

Presumptions of Freedom

In earlier blog posts I’ve speculated on how Consumer-Generated Media may impact journalism. But up above I do promise the "occasional rant," and reading articles like this one from ABC News’ blog, "The Blotter," forced me to wonder (and fume) about the longer-term fate of the freedom of the press. The domestic security czars have been using their newfound powers under the Patriot Act to spy on The Fourth Estate, specifically re: the CIA leaks/Plame investigation. But I thought we were ONLY targeting terrorists? (Dana Perino, deputy press secretary: all national intelligence activities undertaken by the federal government "are lawful, necessary and required for the pursuit of al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorists.") From The Blotter:

"FBI officials did not deny that phone records of ABC News, the New York Times and the Washington Post had been sought as part of a investigation of leaks at the CIA… Officials say the FBI makes extensive use of a new provision of the Patriot Act which allows agents to seek information …(via)… an administrative subpoena and are not signed by a judge. Under the law, a phone company receiving (such a subpeona) for phone records must provide them and may not divulge to the customer that the records have been given to the government."

I’ve scrupulously avoided political musings on this blog, but when journalism is at risk, then PR is at risk, eh? Much more importantly, when a chill wind is allowed to blow across the freedom of the press (liberal, conservative or bone-headed), it does not bode well for the entire American ethos. It boggles my mind when someone says, "If you aren’t doing anything wrong, why would you care if they are spying on you?" It’s BECAUSE I am not doing anything wrong that I DO care if the government is spying on me. Does the phrase, "presumed innocent" mean anything to you, My Fellow Americans, my fellow lovers of the U.S. Constitution? From Daily Kos:

"The terrorists’ most dangerous weapon isn’t anthrax or planes or dirty bombs; it’s fear. Fear is their most destructive weapon because it operates in a stealth manner. Fear is what has caused our government to turn on its citizens and brag that it does so out of courage in the fight against evil. And in that sense, by goading the greatest democracy on earth to view 300 million citizens as the potential enemy, fear has proved to be the most effective weapon of mass destruction of all."

Friday Fun: Insignificant 'R' Us

Next time you find yourself frowning because your blog’s comments are whisper-quiet, or your "Technorati This" button reveals no new links (kinda like the forlorn-sounding "No New Messages" on v-mail, ain’t it?), just check out this link. Or this one. It will make you feel much, much worse. Don’t have time to check the links? Lemme net it out for you (courtesy of this site):

…By means of analogy, we can see that our earth is but a speck of dust on the side of a grain of sand, in a sandbox that is about 20 feet diameter, with the closest sandbox being about 1/3 mile away, and our local group of galaxies would be but a collection of sandboxes in a space about the size of a small city, and that there are other cities with groups of sandboxes as well, expanding out to the whole earth, with billions of other sandboxes each representing other galaxies, each containing billions of stars.

Pretty humbling, eh, my fellow bloggers? Perspective is good. But before you spin into the weekend feeling lost & lonely, alone & insignificant, here’s a thought (from the same sitelink above) that may inspire us all:

(Humankind has) been given the ability to attempt to comprehend the scale of it all.

There are No PR Pros at the End of the Rainbow

I wish I had a nickel for every time a client or prospect told us: "If you do our PR for cheap, we’ll increase the budget as-soon-as we get acquired or get the VC $$$." Almost. Never. Happens. Correction: Never Happens. "YOU will get rich when the acquisition/funding comes through," I say. "And that’s great; we’re happy to help make that happen…

  • "But, WE don’t make money when the ‘lucky strike’ happens…
  • What guarantees can you possibly make to us about this event?
    • "What if the CEO/VC decides to NOT increase the PR budget when the warchest fills-up?
    • "What if an acquirer decides to suspend all vendor contracts? – will you go to bat for us?
    • "When you hired us you suggested that you wanted to be primed for an acquisition/VC infusion – so, why should we expect a big retainer increase once that motivation is gone?"

Have you ever seen the polite grimace on a PR pro’s face, as they listen to the delighted tale of their client’s new-found riches? Have you ever seen a PR pro’s jaws clench, as the client goes on to suggest that maybe, just maybe, "the great PR helped increase the valuation"? Don’t succumb to the client’s pitch. PR agencies work very, very hard to promote their clients’ successes, with no expectations of life-changing wealth as a result. Get paid for today’s work today. "Tomorrow" will take care of itself.

The Press Release "Remix"

From Shel Hotz’s blog last week:

In (the May 9) edition of For Immediate Release podcast interviews, Neville and Shel enjoyed a 28-minute conversation with Tom Foremski, editor of Silicon Valley Watcher, about online journalism, public relations, the relationships between the two, the future of the press release, and the impacts of change in these professions being brought about by social media.

This was a great chat, and yep, the "Press Release of Tomorrow" topic came up (yay!). Stuart Bruce subsequently responded, "The world – specifically, mainstream reporters – ain’t ready yet." I respectfully disagree. Consider this: among the reader-submitted ideas that most intrigued the WSJ’s editors, when they asked readers "to look ahead and describe for us the perfect news site, circa 2016," was this gem:

"Reporters … find out all sorts of things when writing an article or cover a business, but these don’t always fit into the form of a news article. They should be dumped into an encyclopedia."

You know where that additional research/content/context/link fodder would come from? From the PR community! From the Press Release of the Future! Here’s the thing: the "Press Release of Tomorrow" (PROT) will still contain NEWS CONTENT, and arguably in a more digestible format. The only "Big Change" is the recognition that all Internet users — including journalists, as the graphic implies — are now comfortable researching & working online, across many types of "remixable media" (hyperlinks, text, photos, videos, pdf, etc.) … At its essence, the PROT merely facilitates the journalist’s job, by amplifying prospective source materials. "Here is the basic NEWS item. Here are some QUOTES from execs, users, etc. And, here are links to alternative news sources that provide CONTEXT and ADDITIONAL CONTENT for your consideration." The PROT does not replace a well-crafted pitch. It does not replace the need to provide basic, factual news. And — contrary to the opinions of the PR contrarians — the format of the PROT is arguably as familiar to the journalist as the Tradition Press Release: it basically looks like a webpage! It’s a custom-built mini-site… that we can humbly call the Press Release of Tomorrow.




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