Tom Foremski at recent PRSA event, holding "Now is Gone"
You've heard it a million times. Read the work of the person you're trying to reach before you pitch them.
Sometimes we do. Most of the time we don't. And, we've all witnessed what happens when you don't - thank you very much Mr. Chris Anderson.
Tom Foremski is not only a brilliant journalist, videographer, and blogger, he is also an ally for advancing and improving PR. His cry for a better press release was Todd Defren's inspiration for the Social Media Release. Foremski has accurately pinpointed PR's weaknesses, not to trash an industry, but to shake us into a state of realization. His calls for reform have motivated the masses. Now, he joins the ranks of new media pioneers in changing the game for how PR people reach out to influencers.
Several prominent writers including Robert Scoble, and now, Tom Foremski, are requesting PR to contact them through Facebook as their traditional inboxes are quickly escaping their means of control.
Foremski has over 37,000 unread emails.
In a recent post, Tom offered his rationale for his migration to Facebook, "I will only look at pitches that come from my FaceBook friends. I will give those priority over all other communications channels except for face-to-face, which trumps all other channels. The reason is that if you are my FaceBook friend you are more likely to know what I've been writing about and what I've been up to. And I'm more likely to know a little bit about who you are. If you are just pitching me because your boss said you should then I'd rather not respond."
Last year, Scoble likened Facebook to the "new" press release, "And now we have a new way for PR people to let me know about their apps. Write it on the wall please. Facebook: the new press release."
I responded, "What he is saying is loud and clear, and you should pay attention. Reading between the lines, "I get too many emails. I can not respond to most of them. Find a way to stand out. Be creative and reach me in a way that appeals to me."
Merlin Mann, who publishes the popular productivity site 43folders, has made it clear on his stance for PR. Don't contact him any other way except by suggesting links to him via del.icio.us. Tag = "for:43folders"
Even though these examples are representative of influencers in only one market segment, in this case technology, they are not alone in their desire to improve the process for PR overall.
What do they each share in common? They're going out of their way to to help you get them to pay attention to you.
Yes, it doesn't satisfy the numbers game and you may need to reset expectations with your boss or your client, but, guess what? If you don't, you'll either be publicly embarrassed on the Web, called-out by an important contact across your company, and/or barred from further contact - not just you, your entire company.
If only all media and bloggers took the time to let us know how they wish to be contacted...
Seriously. As an influencer, they are automatically placed in the sights for motivated PR professionals. Whether they like it or not, they're going to get ridiculously lame and uninformed pitches. I get them every single day and it absolutely disturbs me that people don't read what I write before they feel obliged to litter my inbox with useless, irrelevant information. Most are just downright awful.
But, I too haven't helped the situation. I haven't placed my preferences for contact or the information I'm looking for anywhere on PR 2.0 or bub.blicio.us. Tom and Robert, although they have written about how to contact them in individual articles, also need to update their contact section. If you didn't happen to read those particular stories, chances are you missed it as they've since been buried with new content. In Robert's case, his email and cell phone number are readily visible on the home page.
In addition, any smart reporter or blogger will or should occasionally ask a PR person how they found them or what made them think of reaching out. In many cases they'll say that they were listed in a PR directory that tracks influencers by categories and provides all necessary contact info. These tools in the hands of lazy PR flacks are a dangerous combination. Most of the time, they simply run a list associated with key words and then blast hundreds of unsuspecting writers within minutes.Hey xx, I know your busy, but I think you'll want to see this news. It's the most innovative, leading, disruptive, paradigm shifting solution that has no competition whatsoever and will change people's lives...
If you're an influencer, take control of your inbox and reach out to these various services and have them update your profile with your preferences. Whether you like it or not, you're in these databases. And most importantly, add a "contact" section on your blog or online bio that also offers suggestions for contact - with both story ideas and methods for presenting them.
Help us, help you.
And to all the PR people in the house...pay attention! Most of the time, less is more. This is after all, about building relationships that can help you over the course of your career. Thinking about the short-term game of just accumulating hits will earn you nothing.
This is about people, respect, value, and trust. These attributes are earned and reinforced through practice.
For further insight, please read my free ebook on blogger relations.
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