I was floored last night listening to This Week in Tech, episode 202.
There's no denying the show can be a bit anti-marketing. Leo Laporte and his crew are tech people, not advertising folks. But many of them (all of them, in this episode) come from a journalism/media background and do see the other side of this divide. And their insights are pretty damning.
I won't even bother to try to encapsulate the entire discussion. You really NEED to listen to the show yourself. Especially you, Brian Solis, because you were specifically called out. But I will try to encapsulate a few of the more valid points made by guest host,John Dvorak, and his panel of Becky Worley (ABC), Natali Del Conte (CBS) and Carlos Rodela (Mevio).
You Can't Fake a Relationship
Parties and Twitter banter and personal notes are all well and good, but they make poor substitutes for real friendship. No matter how much we try to pretend that the way to a journalist's heart is through being "friendly and engaging," most real journalists are not looking for friends. They are looking for facts and reliable resources for those facts. If you already happen to be a friend too, big bonus. But that comes from watching their sick kid while they run to the drug store, not by buying them drinks at the tweetup.
Solid Information and Press Releases Still Matter
Speaking of facts, journalists still appreciate a well-written, no-bull, appropriately-targeted press release. We're losing this art. In our efforts to promote, we often forget that a big part of PR is also to help the journalists we know on a regular basis. So give them the unadulterated facts. And to further this point, if you truly want to be a journalist's "friend," maybe you should consider giving them facts and info regularly that have nothing to do with promoting your client. Build the relationship in equal parts to the contact.
The True Influencers Aren't Taking Your Calls
The anecdotes in this show are so eye-opening! Because they reveal so clearly that the journalists and media people with the most street cred are also the most skeptical. They may take your free drink and eat your shrimp, but they aren't reading your blog, they're deleting your emails and they aren't returning your calls. Why? Because they can get the same information with a whole lot less BS relationship fluff from other sources.
The social media echo chamber is just that. We talk to ourselves and our adherents and congratulate ourselves for all the blog mentions. But are we really getting the best results for our clients?
Using the tech industry as an example, a single recommendation of a website by Leo Laporte or his guests during TWiT orMac Break Weekly can instantly shut the site down. And he accepts no PR solicitations. I know of very few bloggers who can achieve this feat. Which goes back to the point that nuts-and-bolts, old-school, keep-a-stream-of-facts-coming-to-the-press PR is still the key to getting on the radar of the biggest influencers. They read the news, not you.
I will say that i believe in social media, relationship-based efforts for PR and I think a lot of the ideas out there are solid and need to be pursued. But when we do it at the expense of the not-so-glorious fundamentals of PR, we are essentially hamstringing the real potential of our public relations efforts.