High-tech PR in the age of blogs, part 2

"Do you want to enhance communications
with your key audiences?"
Tech journos like me get tons of messages from folks at places like MediaMap asking: "Who are you and what do you cover?" They are forever "updating their database" so that PR folk can more precisely target their email blasts. I opted out of this game years ago. Now, finally, the rules may be changing. In this week's ExpertPR newsletter, MediaMap's PR Tactics column says in part:
RSS holds the promise of becoming a key part of a company's media relations strategy and execution. [ PR Tactics: Using RSS for corporate communications]

The author, Phil Gomes, cites an item I wrote last August entitled Contacting Me: High-tech PR in the age of blogs. I'm delighted to see MediaMap picking up on the ideas expressed there. I've gotten a few calls from readers of Phil's piece asking: "So, what does this mean for how we pitch things to you?" Let's start with the "tactical news distribution policy" that Phil recommends; I've added the column labeled 'value' to indicate what matters most to me:

Topic Release/RSS RSS only value
Quarterly earnings X low
Executives' or engineers' commentary on industry trends X high
Major product announcement X low 1
Minor upgrades or product plug-ins X low 2
Keynote or strategic speaking placement at a major tradeshow or conference X low 3
Multi-vendor panel participation at a small tradeshow or conference X low 4

1 If it's of interest, the executives and engineers would be talking about it, wouldn't they?
2 Ditto.
3 Ditto.
4 Ditto.

In short, I don't want you to pitch things to me. And I don't want your clients to pitch things to me either, at least not directly. I do, very much, want them to speak in their own authentic voices, about the technologies and products and services that inspire their passion, to everyone who might have a reason to care. I want your clients to explain what they do, how they think, and why their efforts matter. And so, of course -- and more importantly -- do current and prospective customers.

What's missing from Phil's chart, I think, is an appreciation of how awareness flows through blogspace. Communication, in this view, is a tactical missile launched by a PR agent and aimed at a journalist. News flash: I'm the wrong target. In fact, and counter-intuitively, blogging doesn't aim at any target! Chris Anderson put it nicely the other day:

Blogs are a way to "publish and forget" -- you fire the information out there, and interested people will find it. [ SimpleGeek]

If this seems like too much of a leap of faith, consider how hard executives and engineers already work explaining to one another the nature and value of what they do. Some of this is necessarily confidential. A lot isn't, and when it isn't, the message could (and should) reach a much wider audience. Some of those readers will be journalists who write for print and online. Most won't be journalists -- but a growing number of those folks will write online too. What is known and thought about your clients will emerge from this melting pot of perspectives.

If you're selling a product or service, you have to be able to tell a good story. If you're advising sellers of products or services, you have to help them tell those stories. If you're a journalist, you have to evaluate all the stories and weave them into a coherent narrative. This has always been true. But we never expected all the storytellers to wear real faces and speak with real voices. Now we do.

Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2003/04/09.html#a663