David Berlind Calls Out PR

From his post on Ground Zero ...

This is a good time to draw the public relations community into the discussion. Much the same way writers find themselves wanting to do more or less fact checking, a lot of that has to do with how quickly we can get a response. ...

...

Thanks to the blogosphere, on relatively short order, I went from writing twice a week to 10-15 times a week and sometimes more. There are plenty more where I came from that are feeling and responding in-kind to that same pressure. But, as the established media community picks up the pace, there are those of us in it who would prefer to keep constant the number of chances we're taking. But if the PR community doesn't also reinvent itself to keep pace with the media revolution by responding to the fact checkers on blogopshere time, it will leave those writers with no choice but to take more chances. I don't know about you, but if I were a PR professional, I sure wouldn't want to be the guy that blew that one opportunity to contain the story that snow-balled into a disaster for the company I represent.

His other part of the post talks about fact checking and how bloggers and journalists are beginning to cross paths, and that some bloggers are fact checking more - he points to Robert Scoble as one example - and that journalists might start fact checking less. Or, that's how I read it.

Berlind has some points. And he is the man behind the media transparency experiment, where he shows that everyone needs to be upfront in the whole PR and media dance. Yes, PR does need to work in a faster time frame nowadays. Yes, PR needs to think about responding not only to journalists, but to bloggers and citizen journalists.

But, there are only 24 hours in a day. PR still needs to tier the opportunities and requests that come in to the media department. Unfortunately, some things get tiered higher than others, and because of that, some opportunities are missed or ignored. Is that right? Maybe not, but then again, it is about reach and influence. You need to weigh the opportunities and it's a simple cost/effective measurement. Are you going to get back to a USA Today before you get back to a 3000 circulation newspaper?


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6 comments

  1. Good points. The thing is, by participating in the blogosphere, you're probably already talking with the bigger name journalistic outlets.

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  2. Are you talking to them, or just getting pick-up?

    I know that some journalists from the top-tier press are using PubSub, Technorati, Blogpulse for tracking companies in their beats, but that's not relationship building or PR. That's just pick-up.

    There's usually more of a story than just what's on a blog.

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  3. I don't know what "tiering" is but it seems pretty obvious from what's written here. There are journalists out there reinventing themselves and their practices in the process thanks to the blogosphere. Perhaps "tiering" will be a prehistoric practice by tomorrow's standards and it's time for a rethink on the whole PR workflow.

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  4. Thanks for stopping by David. Tiering is just what it sounds like - setting priorities on which outlets to touch base with first, who to get review units out to first, whose phone calls to return first, whose emails to return first.

    And, just like an assignment editor at a large newsroom hands out the stories for the day, PR firms need to tier the opportunities, and go forth with those that are going to have the biggest bang. Does that mean excluding blogs or blogging journalists? Or course not. But, just like the media needs to think of what best serves the media (or its audience) best - and, yes, usually both are in the mix, and serving the media sometimes trumps serving the public - PR needs to think of what will serve the client best.

    This does not have much to do with journalists reinventing themselves, or PR reinventing itself, but simple time management. Tiering isn't a prehistoric practice anymore than a journalist or blogger deciding which company or topic to write on is archaic, or for an editor to decide which story gets spiked and which gets published.

    Blogging isn't changing those hard facts, just giving journalists another outlet to put up stories that might have not made it into print, or giving journalists another outlet.

    However, as I watch the blogosphere, it appears that it's just small circles of people linking to each other - somewhat ironically portrayed in Berlind's post on who he was going to send the email to, before deciding to go out to the blogosphere as a whole - and blogs don't really push the envelope. It's turned out to be just like the mainstream media it was supposedly going to challenge and change.

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  5. People in media relations already deal with reporters who call up on a really tight deadline and ask for information or quotes in a hurry. Sometimes we're able to accommodate, sometimes not.

    I appreciate what Berskind is saying -- a quick check-back with a blogger or journalist to confirm a fact could save a major headache on some stories. And with cell phones, PDAs, etc., the excuse of not being able to respond right away is becoming one of time, priority and access to those who CAN answer the question (not always the flack), rather than logistics.

    But there are always limits to what can be accomplished by an individual or a team. And writers need to be aware that the hold-up isn't always because the PR person is sitting around playing Solitaire. Often the subject matter expert, or the executive, who has the answer to the question is legitimately unavailable.

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