I’m a blogger (obviously). And my articles are somewhat journalistic in nature, meaning I typically cover the news regarding the social media and online marketing space. As such, I get a great deal of press releases. Every day. They flood my inbox, they’re sometimes tedious to read through, and they’re often impersonal email blasts that were sent to me because I managed to get on someone’s email list.
And I don’t mind one bit (as long as it remains professional).
I know I’m a rare breed, but I feel it’s part of my job to make news relevant when I can, and do something that’s in the best interest of all parties involved. I’ve gotten 6 a.m. phone calls from PR people, either requesting a story be written or requesting some after-the-fact damage control to be fixed. I’ve been Tweeted, Facebooked and gChatted (sometimes by the same person), and I can see why other bloggers would find this unnerving.
The result has been a backlash against PR professionals and their entire industry, which was rather expected. But the flip side of this coin is the response of the PR industry, namely that of RealWire. The public relations company has created a site and accompanying video titled An Inconvenient PR Truth, highlighting the “pollution” of email inboxes as a result of the press release overflow. Instead of giving too many people too much stuff to sift through, an approval process could b set in place so that only the most relevant material is sent out to influential writers.
The only problem? Letting all of the writers know about it, and then convincing them that such will be the case.
As it stands, sending out a press release is akin to a marketing blast, where a single message is sent out to as many people as possible, hoping someone will pick up on it. That’s a rather old-school way of looking at mass marketing, and it’s becoming less relevant and effective as marketing campaigns move to new arenas. Web and mobile marketing is taking a more personalized approach, as it takes on the characteristics of its users in order to better target ads.
Can the same be applied to the PR industry and the bloggers of the world? In some ways, I’m inclined to answer that question with a resounding “yes.” But when I think about it, I”m not sure such a process would solve the problem. It seems that PR professionals would be making even more decisions for writers, given the proposed approval process, potentially resulting in even more “direction” being applied to a story pitched to a writer or blogger.
And the website and video that RealWire has set up to spread its own message? That looks like a marketing campaign all its own. And it is, but it may end up being a necessary one. I applaud RealWire for making the effort to become a more appealing cog in the press wheels, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.
In my professional experience, I’ve found that working directly with a PR person on a story is the best way to go. It gives everyone an opportunity to fully understand the message that is being put forth, while also giving everyone the chance to ask questions and work towards a single goal. Even if a writer doesn’t agree with the message being put forth, it’s better to at least be able to ask questions.