May 12, 2008

Micro Broadcast is Still Broadcast, and Public Relations Can't Scale Down

Stowe Boyd continues the New PR conversation here, giving me a shoutout and a bit of calling me 'out-my-name' here. So I'm obliged, having survived the tornadoes of the Southeast, to respond with some more thoughts about PR and why it isn't working for bloggers -- and web 2.0 and technology bloggers specifically.

[[I'm resisting the urge to go back to the days of Adam and Eve and make everyone now admit that bloggers aren't journalists, don't WANT to BE journalists, but that some journalists do indeed blog. For the sake of time: never mind.]]

Instead, let me meander for a bit instead.

I think using twitter for PR communication and calling that MicroPR is a very Not-Good idea
. Twitter is another medium, another format, but summarizing a pitch into 140 characters and 'pitching' it via twitter with a hashmark is still broadcasting. Call it MicroBroadcasting and slap its picture next to oxymoron in the dictionary, or call it MicroPR, but I can't see how that's going to change anything. Something isn't melding when I hear Stowe say on one hand "TwitPitch is the Future," and on the other hand that everything has to change.

The 'everything has to change part' is the right part. As Stowe says:

Personally, I feel that it is the whole system that is wrong, and piecemeal solutions like blacklists and filtering, and one:one agreements about how I, some specific blogger, should be approached by some specific firm won't work in the long run -- these are all stop gaps and band-aids.

The root cause here is the delusion on the part of the clients that this sort of PR carpet bombing works, that mass media messages embedded in a press release or press release-ish email work, and that we, the bloggers, actually react positively to this junk.

Right on. But Twitter won't change it.

The missing part is not only that clients have to stop expecting mass-media results, but that agencies have to stop selling clients on these measures of success. (And that's tough, because if you don't, the next guy will, and they'll get the business for their promises of big ink and big links).

The web 2.0 economy, the Techmeme and Techcrunch economy, will not look kindly on real change, because real change would change the power structure. Again, that is fodder for its own post as too few people realize how news is announced and 'made' in the tech sphere these days. Few understand how completely we've replicated the old school with new names. Get Me On Techmeme = Get Me LOTS of Ink; Get Me On TechCrunch = Get Me The New York Times. Old boss, new boss. Mr. Sir. Yessir. Where did we go wrong?

That is not to say PR-as-we-know-it is totally useless.

Old school Public Relations for public companies that must meet strict regulatory requirements still works the way it always has. It's not going away. It doesn't need to. The crisis management specialists, the old school media relations specialists, the IR people--they still have a role to serve in the world of public company PR. Those same people have little use for bloggers unless it is as part of a cute marketing program designed to generate some "buzz." So let's leave that galaxy alone for a while. They'll follow along in time, but only if everything else changes first.

What needs to change FIRST is PR for everyone else.

In relating some of what is changing, Stowe points to an interesting but off-the-mark idea here. although I can see how it could EVOLVE into something useful, right now, this seems to be the kind of carpet bombing approach that Stowe talks about on the other side. The PR Spammers list, started by Gina Trapani, of Lifehacker, based on Matt Haughey's post here, is essentially a wikiblacklist of PR "spammers," and it's growing by leaps and bounds. Throw some logos on there and you've got the next New Media / Social Media conference speakers list ready to go. The thing is, lots of good PR agencies and folks are on that list, including some of those I do and did work with, and that sucks. Not to mention, the list will lose its initial zing when every agency makes sure their competitors show up on that list. It just isn't going to work the way it's intended to.

I'm waiting for the REVERSE of Gina's list -- one that lists BLOGGERS who WANT information and fodder so that they can write posts that people will read and click on their ads and make them money. Because, hey, you're not out there doing altruistic work for the common good here Blogger Folks.

My ReverseGina list would have Gina and Matt list their areas of interest and preferred method of communication specified BY THEM (hint: stowe likes twitter), something that can be dynamically updated, like a wiki version of Profnet and Media Map combined, but populated by the people who will be receiving communications. This kind of tool will match the things I as a blogger am interested in knowing about -- my areas of interest -- with what companies want to talk about, and then match and deliver those wants up in a non-intrusive, timely way. WITHOUT charging $5000 a month for it.

If wishes were horses...

Tools and Twitter Pitches aside, how many times do we have to say what everyone knows: relationships trump tools.

The best thing we as PR people can do is to NOT try to force news, but instead help nurture relationships between clients and customers, to make champions out of users, to encourage our clients to underwrite, support, sponsor, reward, and lift up those who might touch their product or service. TO BE INVISIBLE.

New PR should have very little to do with pitching "news" to bloggers or landing on "techmeme." It should have everything to do making it easier/better/more fun for people to tell each other their stories.

More on these important matters of business later, but right now I have to start the day after Mother's day by being a mom first.

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1 comments:

tanyaa said...

For me, media is the nervous system of our global organism. Granted it's human-centric, but this planet is, at least for the moment, human-centric. We are the species that drives more changes to the global organism than any before us.

For a long time, media was hierarchical, top-down, with the people with power/money, dictating the signals that were sent to the the rest of the people. But now, as has been being predicted for decades, media is more like the human nervous system with each person a cell able to send messages to the entire system.
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Tanyaa
Internet Marketing