Thou Shalt Not Ask After the Receipt of Press Releases
The scene is my office. It is morning and I am in the midst of my day job as the editor of a mortgage banking magazine. I am receiving a telephone call from a PR person who wants to know if I received a press release that she sent via e-mail earlier in the week. I am not happy.
Why am I not happy? Because I still cannot believe that the PR world is full of people who waste time, money and goodwill in calling journalists asking if they received a particular press release. This is not unique to newbie account executives that are still feeling their way in the media world. Senior level PR executives have also pestered me in regard to “information” sent my way.
As a public service, I’d like to offer this brief explanation of why such calls are a waste of time.
First, the average journalist receives dozens of press releases per week. Some journalists at the higher-profile media outlets receive hundreds of press releases per day. It is highly unlikely for the average journalist (or even the above-average journalist) to remember every single press release that comes in.
Second, unless your press release is returned to you (either via a Mailer-Daemon e-mail bounceback or a Return to Sender sticker on snail mail, you should assume that the press release was received. The likelihood of the press release getting lost in the digital ether or the bowels of the USPS is highly unlikely. Assume it was received if it doesn’t come back.
Third, just want is so important about the press release that demands this kind of a follow-up? If it is a new product announcement, a personnel announcement, or an item for a calendar listing, don’t even think of following up after it. Because to be perfectly cruel, the journalist doesn’t see that as news – he sees it as filler. Don’t waste your contact time with journalists chasing filler.
Fourth, this may be a surprise to many PR people but journalists actually work for a living. And many of these journalists are often trying to complete something called a “deadline.” If I had a dollar for every PR person calling a deadline-chasing journalist to inquire about the receipt of a press release…well, let’s just say I’d have problems closing my wallet thanks to all of those dollars!
Fifth, and perhaps most important, no journalist enjoys getting such calls. If you want to piss off a media person, make such a call and see for yourself.
If you are going to call a journalist, do something that is useful for the journalist. Offer the journalist exclusive interviews, provide original articles or op-ed pieces carrying the bylines of top-tier leaders, arrange super-secret peeks at the latest groundbreaking products. But don’t – please, DON’T – ask them if they received your press release!
(Phil Hall is the former president of Open City Communications, a New York PR agency, and former editor of PR News. His latest book "The New PR" will be released later this year from Larstan Publishing.)
Well, if you've been following the soap opera "As the Blog Turns," in this week’s drama we have speaker, trainer and prominent blogger Kathy Sierra being harassed off the air so to speak as a result of a series of blog comments. They were indeed of a most graphic and sexual nature. One commenter reportedly wrote “fuck off you boring slut.” Certainly, off color; when combined with “I hope someone slits your throat and cums down your gob,” vile and depraved. In a word, Yikes! And then add the fact that it seemed to be coming from other prominent bloggers Frank Paynter, Jeneane Sessum, and Allen Herrel. Double Yikes!! It was when these “meankids.org” posted a photo of a noose next to her head, and apparently one of their members commenting "the only thing Kathy has to offer me is that noose in her neck size," that the refs blew the whistle. OUT OF BOUNDS!!! The stadium erupted and a virtual riot ensued.
1. Kathy canceled public appearances and suspended her blog.
2. Demagogues used it to engender emotion and rally mob.
3. Mob posts 1,000 comments and counting.
4. Some notables (Scoble, and others) suspend blogs in a show of support.
5. Demagogues use mob emotion to advance the “Movement;” Call for "Blogger Code of Conduct” and the abolition of anonymity.
1. The comments were certainly ugly.
2. The comments were likely illegal but that needs to be proven.
3. At all times relevant, the marketplace of ideas is the mechanism to vet #1.
4. At all times relevant, there is a legal system in place to address #2.
Bottom line: "Naked Conversations" is a dismal failure. So’s Cluetrain for that matter. Who would have thought that when we marginalized communications power and leveled all hierarchies... that the commons would become the cesspool of human existence? Well, I’ll tell you. Pretty much ANY idiot with common sense, anyone who’s ever studied history, anyone who’s had siblings and shared a bathroom, anyone who’s ever been to a Cubs game, or taken public transportation. I skeeve. There's a reason why the sale of Purell hand-sanitizing lotion is brisk.
So... now what do we do? Better question: what do the A-List leaders (blog demagogues) do? Answer: They can either take their ball and go home (Scoble, Rubel, Weil and others would have to actually get real jobs); Or what they can do is call for certain controls, the very antithesis of their platforms, the very things they all along told us they were dismantling on our behalf. In effect, forget the old rules; here are the new rules. Ironically, here’s the new hierarchy. Such is the cycle that defines history. We, of course, need new rules to protect the new rulers. Remember that.
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
The boys told us how natural it would be to take a hike in the woods; now that there are snakes allegedly, the girls want to pave the forest. The boys wanted to play ball on the highway; now that someone’s got hit, the parents move to ban traffic.
No. The consequences of banning things that are essential to free speech, commerce and democracy, even if Kathy had actually been harmed let alone the mere perception of threat, is FAR TOO GREAT a price to pay. Debbie Weil says, “Anonymity breeds the worst, foulest behavior in the blogosphere.” For Debbie, surely. Those with weak arguments are some of the loudest voices to ban anonymity; and who can blame them? What they look to ban is criticism.
On Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 7:41 AM, Ronn Torossian, President and CEO of 5WPR, emphatically promised that he was going to sue us. No real reason, he was just irritated by our teasing him about getting in bed with pornographer Joe Francis. Anyway, Ronn gave his obscenity-laced word that we'd see the complaint in 72 hours. It's now late by
Kathleen Durazo about A Measly $2.8 Million Goes Missing, Lawsuit Results Fri, Jul 31, 10:58:34 AM Ray Durazo (the founder) sold the company to Dan in 1999. He was not involved in any of this. He (and I) found out about the lawsuit in the LA Times. In addition to embezzling this m [...]