I have been meaning to write this post for a while but was holding back so as to not upset anyone in the marketing/PR space. But the the last straw finally broke and I had to publish this post.
PR as you guys might well know is an essential part of marketing notwithstanding all the technology advances that have happened. Social Media outlets definitely have reduced the effectiveness of the traditional PR where you send out newswire and press releases to newspapers but there are still cases where you might have to depend on that antiquated process.
With blogs, slowly (but surely) supplanting traditional press, it seems like the PR machinery is now targeting the hosepipe at the bloggers. But alas, old habits die hard. They think spamming someone over and over will eventually get their attention. It does not. If someone is smart enough to do sustained blogging on a topic that draws your (and more importantly your client’s) attention, then they are also smart enough to shut out the noise caused by your hosepipe.
For me, not a single day goes by without dozens of PR folks sending me “This is under embargo, but we think you might be interested” release and asking if I would like to publish it. Sure some of them are in the areas that pique my interest but some canned self-aggrandizing press release – nah!.
Personally, I loath this practice of sending a completely uninteresting piece of noise about some company that I don’t know or care, here are some simple rules I think you should follow if you are a PR agency or a company engaging a PR agency.
- Introduce the company and build a relationship ahead of when you want to push a press release and garner attention. Tell me more about the reason for the company’s existence. Tell me about the leaders of the company. If the company does social good, you almost always have an audience with me.
- Not everybody is in the business of breaking-news. TechCrunch and GigaOM are. That is their business and they are very good at it. I am not. So are many other bloggers. Most bloggers who write for a sustained period of time write because they are passionate about the subject. So don’t try to push a hot-off-the-press article that has very little substance. I prefer writing about some technology that is already well known but highlighting the nuances that might not be obvious.
- Just because I wrote about a specific topic/area in one of my blogs does not automatically mean I would be interested in every topic/company in that area – case in point – Virtualization (Is there anything more boring, even within the Cloud Computing space?). I might have just done earlier post because I liked something the company did beyond just the nuts-and-bolts of virtualization. So try and understand if I am interested in the topic before spamming me.
- Try to read up on me and know my background before sending something my way. If you have followed my posts in my blog or seen my guest posts elsewhere, you will notice that I always take a customer’s point-of-view, my hardcore technology background and jobs with technology vendors, notwithstanding. So pitching an out-and-out technology geekware might just be a waste.
- DO NOT offer to provide someone in Sales or Marketing for further discussion. With due credit to those disciplines (both of which I don’t claim much expertise), a technology company’s vision is driven by CEO or CTO+Founder. No, Business Development team is not exempt either.
- It is not a link exchange program. If getting a lot of backlinks is your object, then you are better of spamming on some directories or discussion groups. To get a insightful blog post out, it needs a good discussion and couple of follow ups. If you cannot provide that, it is not worth it for either of us.
- Don’t end the relationship after your blog post is published. People are suckers for sequels (Why else would Hollywood keep making those sequel flops?). So besides discussing the current topic, set up a follow up discussion to update more.
- Finally, my two cents on PR. PR used to be Press Release. If you want to sustain yourself in the line of business you are in, treat it as Personal Relationships going forward.
There you go. If I have successfully managed to piss off every single PR person that has contacted me or was considering doing just that, then consider this your wake up call. PR as you knew it is a waning business, you need to change the way it is done.