Last week, Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail and Wired Magazine blogger, lashed out at lazy PR people. The crux of the story is that Chris gets torrents of press releases, some more or less relevant, from public relations agencies that can't really be bothered to do their research before sending releases around. Therefore Chris chose to publish the email addresses of a few hundred PR people who've sent him said releases. This story really rings true for me on three levels;
- First, I'm a blogger, albeit a small-time one. But I still get plenty of press material, ranging from jaw-droppingly excited news to awfully written, pointless drivel. More of the latter than the former, needless to say.
- Second, I come from an email marketing background where my key concern was whether the content I was sending week in, week out, to over half a million readers was worth THEIR while. I was, to say the least, precious about Data Protection and if anyone suggested buying lists from agencies or scraping our customer database for addresses, I suggested in return ripping their balls out and cooking them in a nice tomato and basil sauce. Once I felt that the company I worked for didn't allow me to produce content I genuinely thought could make our customers feel warm and fuzzy inside, I had to leave.
- Finally, in my new role at Taptu, I wear many hats - one of which involves handling some of the communication and PR. I adore that part of my job but it means I'm on the OTHER side of the fence, sending press releases, praying that bloggers won't rebuff me or, worse, publish a post claiming I've spammed them with irrelevant content. That's amongst my worst nightmares, no joke.
It's a funny place to be, to say the least. I sympathise with both camps to a certain point; the PR people who are given targets to meet, numbers of mentions and pageviews to get, and the bloggers who want real news.
At the same time, as a blogger, poor journalism in the form of bloggers who regurgitate press releases thinly veiled as news articles make my blood boil, as I know these are the people who have lulled PR agencies into a state of comfortable laziness.
There's no denying it, working in PR and always being on top of the latest news and the important bloggers isn't easy and requires passion. You need to be interested in your industry and personally invested. The canyon between the passionate product evangelist and the PR Joe Bloggs who's trying to hit targets on paper is deeper and more obvious than ever, and I'll let you guess which one manages to appeal to me, Carlo or Chris Anderson.
So PR people, make an effort to think before you send. Send quality news, don't blow your own trumpet too much and let us figure out whether your product is "revolutionary" or "ground-breaking". And bloggers, let PR people know when they're hitting the sweet spot and when they're not.
Hopefully, we can all learn to play nice together and live in a nice utopian world where bloggers and PR people walk together hand in hand, surrounded by rainbows and unicorns. Right? Right? Can't we? Well... I tried.
[Cat picture by edmittance on Flickr]