Archive for the ‘Newspapers’ Category

On September 17th – Dan Lyons of Newsweek published an article that caught my attention at the time, entitled: Don’t Tweet On Me: Twitter shows that stupid stuff sells.

Despite my initial desire to respond, for some reason or another, I never took the time or simply forgot. The article recently resurfaced in a brief flurry of online dialog and once again drew my attention – Why is their so much Twitter Hate, especially amongst journalists at reputable media powerhouses like Newsweek. so I’ve crafted a rebuttal:

Dan – You make some good points, but you’re clearly lacking an understanding of the direction in which our cultural interests are shifting, namely, the increasingly micro-targeted and smaller scale interaction between consumers and producers, niche audiences and publishers of content with such a specific focus that it automatically establishes a relationship between themselves and their readers, as it caters to their individuals desires.

That’s what Twitter does – it allows people to form their own content creation communities. The lines between producer and consumer go from blurred to nonexistent. Celebrities & CEOs once on higher ground, off-limits to the masses, now stand on even footing, interacting as equals, obviating the need for paparazzi and mainstream media, I wonder if your vehement criticism and narrow-minded view of the platform stem from the fact that it will one day (soon) displace you and your journalistic brethren who fail to embrace the medium as not just valuable to ‘Us,’ but essential for you.

The posts on Twitter that you refer to as inane or stupid are publishers and producers relinquishing control of their material to their audiences. After all, their reader/viewership is what gives these individuals value, so the greater the control one can give them over content produced, the more likely that content will be received positively by that audience.

If people want it, who are you to say it’s ‘stupid’ simply because it’s different than what you want? If people can make money or increase their personal brand and value by catering to the wishes or the their audience or population at large, they’d be stupid NOT to do so.

In fact, this concept takes us back to your obsolescence. As a journalist, you are used to answering to yourself and other internal authorities. But at many big brands are learning, control over content is no longer in your hands (if it ever really was), it’s in the hands of the masses. Telling the public what they want to hear that or what they’re saying is stupid won’t change the fact that you are losing control. Sorry to break it to you…but until you embrace the stupidity of twitter and other likeminded platforms, you are destined for a short-lived career.

Personally, the reporter’s, bloggers, and journalists whose work I read on a regular basis are those that converse with me on Twitter. Those who tweet, not just about what story they’re writing, but about eating lunch or hating on a movie – mundane, maybe. But not stupid – and do you know why? Because it humanizes them. It acknowledges that they are just like the rest of us, or, more accurately, that the rest of us are just like them, acquiescing to the degrading boundaries between producer and consumer. That’s why I don’t read the New York Times or Newsweek, cover to cover, but I do read the articles and stories written by media personalities I know, I like, and with whom I relate and identify. Such is the direction in which media is heading – one of niche audiences and targeted content, personal branding, and relationship building. As a reporter whose entire industry is in the throes of upheaval – I’d suggest rethinking your definition of “stupidity”

1. A Prerequisite When Hiring New Talent -Basic Knowledge of HTML & Web Design

Right now, the realm of social media is up for grabs. Marketing and advertising agencies are vying for the rights and for PR to remain in the game, publicists need to do more than develop the ‘creative’ behind digital campaigns. Whether it’s simple HTML coding for helping build out a clients blog, or fully developing website widgets and mobile and Facebook apps, having knowledgeable developers and programmers on staff is essential on claiming the social media territory in the name of PR and wresting the burgeoning landscape from the hands of competing industries.

2. PICK UP THE PHONE (But Don’t Leave a Voice Mail)

The media is shrinking and, as an unavoidable and unfortunately consequence, journalists, sadly, are being laid off in droves. This means fewer reporters covering a greater quantity of topics and beats and receiving more emails and pitches than ever, making it all the more difficult to get noticed/be heard. Thus, placing clients in top tier outlets has become as hypercompetitive as the job market itself – Catching the receptive ear of a friendly journalist, never an easy task, has become a more difficult feat that it was only a year ago. The easiest way around that – PICK UP THE PHONE. That doesn’t mean barrage the media with a never ending stream of emails, follow-up calls, and voice mail. But if you target your reporters and outlets well and understand the deadlines and time constrains of their daily routine, a well place phone call can go a long way. And it seems a lot of PR Pros…myself included…have forgotten this once-popular means of communication in light of the ease of email.

3. Predict & Preact!

Read & React, the old M.O., worked pretty well for a while. Now, however, reactive methods are obsolete as headlines fly in and out of the public’s attention so quickly, by the time you read an article in a mainstream media outlet or see it covered in the news, get your client’s perspective on the issue, and start pitching it, the story is long dead and the masses have shifted their interests to a dozen other fleeting topics. The key is to identify trends and popular stories before they hit the airwaves and papers. A few years ago, one could argue that this is easier said than done, requiring psychic powers. I’d posit that now, with the advent and growing popularity of twitter and news aggregators like digg, spotting the trending topics is easier than ever. If a publicist is good at his/her job, Predictive and Proactive pitching is not only possible, but crucial. If you are familiar with an outlet or a journalist’s goals and interests and with what issues (or gadgets, or causes, etc…) the masses are currently consumed with, this should come naturally. You should be looking for tomorrow’s headlines, not today’s.

This preemptive and instantaneous approach isn’t just essential for publicists to understand, it’s also vital that clients are fully aware of the immediacy and urgency entailed in effectively capitalizing on current, or soon-to-be current, events. A publicist’s best efforts are only as successful as the client will allow. Ensuring that your client ‘gets’ the need for a timely response will allow you to capitalize when you do spot that topic that fits perfectly into his/her area of expertise and is about to break out of the niche into the mainstream.

4. Corporate Blogging/Social Networking Policy

Many PR Pros & employees already are, and should be, utilizing social media in their daily activities. However, when it comes to blogging and engaging the public on open platforms, speaking as the voice of an agency or on behalf of a client can be dangerous, despite all the potential benefits. Thus, policies, procedure and protocol for such engagement are necessary to ensure that both the firm and its clients are accurately represented.

5. Training ALL Employees in Basics of Social Media

Again, if you or your employees aren’t targeting your outreach to bloggers, micro-communities, and the appropriate niche audiences found online, you are missing out on reaching a vast population that want to hear your (client’s) message. Most likely, this isn’t due to apathy or laziness, rather a lack of understanding. The world of social media is evolving so rapidly, it’s difficult for even the youngest and brightest to keep up. Routine training and briefings updating employees on the latest and greatest social and online media is a must.

A Note

As Always…I’m Looking Forward To Your Thoughts & Feedback. Agree with me, Argue with Me, Either Way – The Value of Any Blog, Mine Included, is dependant on the thoughts of its readership and the quality of the commentary…So Please: Share your insights on the matter – How do you think PR Firms & Publicists should Adapt? Can We? Am I Wrong? Is PR Destined for Obsolescence? Is Social Media Fated to fall under the auspices of Marketers and Advertisers? You Tell Me!

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Also, My Boss, Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations has put up a new video on this very topic. You can see it, below (it’s short). You can also subscribe to the 5WPR Youtube Channel Here. Enjoy!

In Keeping With Tradition – Here Are My Recommended Posts & Articles for This Week (So Far). Enjoy! And Feel Free To Suggest Others in the Comments!

The Most Interesting Man in the World: How to Blend Traditional, Online and Social Media Tactics Into One Cohesive Campaign (Identity PR)

Avoid Twitter Disasters (PC Mag)

The Day Facebook Changed Forever: Messages to Become Public By Default (Read Write Web)

Dear People Who Game Twitter For Followers: It’s Over (Tremendous News)

Did Habitat Use Iran Conflict to Attract Twitterers? (AdAge)

Tim Burton’s Beautiful Reboot of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (Fast Company)

Blogging: the long and short of it (Guardian)

10 Twitter Best Practices for Brands (Mashable)

Chris Anderson, Elizabeth Hasselbeck Both Accused of Plagiarism (BNET)

Retweeting: ‘Followers’ look to ‘leaders’ as social networks grow (CNN)

5 tips for brand marketing on Twitter (Freshbooks)

A Shameless Defense of Journalism (New York Times)

When Does a Social Media Policy Go Too Far? Ask the Associated Press (Mashable)

The Best Kept Secret of Facebook Fan Pages (Social Media Today)

Social Media Advertising: Does It Work… or Doesn’t It? (Marketing Profs)

Is augmented reality a mobile killer app? (eConsultancy)

When Consumers Help, Ads Are Free (New York Times)

Web TV You’ll Need to Pay to See: Time Warner, Comcast Roll Out “Authentication.” Who Else Is In? (All Things Digital)

Facebook movie pinning down director, cast (CNET)

Arrested Development Movie –

What Bing, Twitter, and Facebook Mean for SEO (WebProNews)

Wired editor mired in controversy over parallels between book and Wikipedia (Guardian)

Dear Fast Feeders, Please Keep Your Meat Away From the Ladies (AdAge) [2 Girls 1 Sub All Over Again!]

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MuckRack is a work of art. Pure & Simple Genius. Similar attempts have been made to categorize journalist activities on twitter, but they have either been static databases and require updating or poorly designed and organized.

MuckRack is none of those. It live-streams journalists’ tweets and can be sorted by beat and/or outlet.

The best part, IMO is that since it’s built on built on a Twitter API – You can login to the site with your twitter ID & Password and by hovering over a reporter, editor, anchor or producer’s tweet – you can follow them, retweet, and even reply to them!

The only – and I really mean only – drawback as of now, is the fact that it won’t tell you which journalists you’re already following. Theoretically, you can click to follow the same reporter over and over again…but that minute waste of time is a small price for the overall value the site provides.

For PR professionals, Muckrack (also found on twitter @Muckrack) is resource of amazing potential. Beats listed range from business to travel to digital to world news to sports and outlets include pretty much everything: TV, Print, Radio, and Online.

The list of features goes on:

  • Users can rate Tweets as “Newsworthy,” “Witty,” or “Insidery.”
  • The sidebar informs you of trending Muckrack Topics.
  • Anyone can easily add a journalist not currently listed in the Muckrack Database.
  • The site also lists Designers, Developers, Celebrities, Musicians, VCs, Athletes, and even pets.

MuckRack was founded by Lee SemelAdam Varga, and Gregory Galant of Sawhorse Media and Aaron Taylor-Waldmanof Pixel Pusher.

The About section aptly poses the question:

What if you could get tomorrow’s newspaper today?

Now you sorta can, by tracking the short messages on Twitter written by the journalists who do the muckraking for major media outlets.

Muck Rack makes it easy to follow one line, real time reporting.

Check it out…seriously…Best. Site. Ever. (For PR Pros, Anyway).



Christine Perkett recently wrote an interesting and provactive piece for her blog, Perkett Persuasion.

In it, she reminds us that PR is not dying but evolving. Media is changing and for PR firms and professionals to survive, we must evolve alongside it and adapt in order to really take advantage of  everything these changes offer.

Check out her post here: Your Turn: What Can We Do Better in Public Relations?

And Check out this post by David Mullen in which he Coins the Term ‘People Relations’ – Brought to you by @Dmullen @Ariherzog @shannonpaul & @missusp – The “P” in PR Should Stand for “People”

I think blogger relations and people relations have really gained value. Word of mouth no longer means generating buzz and executing stunts, it means keeping a consistent and constant dialogue with your audience or consumer base. Obviously, as twitter evolves and becomes more of a mainstream platform, this type of engagement should be a focus in PR. Similarly, blogs are powerful a powerful and influential medium that has come to rival the even the greatest of traditional media outlets, especially when catering to a niche market. Keeping up what blogs are popular, who blogs about what topic…etc is incredible difficult because it changes every day. But for social media people, this opens the door of potential exposure, if handled correctly. As print continues to flounder, people will turn to blogs and hybrid sites that combine brand blogging with user generated info (like – not affiliated with them in any way,just a good example). Everyone is now both a consumer and producer. Relying solely on traditional media for outreach isn’t taking advantage of the fact that everyone’s voice is equally powerful and valid, and continues to gain authority as social media evolves. The fact that this world is ‘online’ gives a lot of people who have been in PR for a long time, the feeling that it’s not a credible medium and that it’s not valuable. As such, social media or blogger relations…and ‘people relations’ aren’t taken seriously. Blogs are spammed, twitter is used to feed useless updates about company news or brand deals…and the potential is never seen and those feelings are validated because no effort is made. We need to, as an industry, learn to respect the online community and understand that individual people are as important as major newspapers & that doesn’t devalue our jobs, rather, it provides us with an unlimited number of outlets to work with. Understanding that will help take PR to the next level. Change = Good

Today, Tech Bloggers are playing Kids at the Candy Store, as they attend Amazon’s Press Conference (Kindle DX Launch), Tweeting, Live-Blogging, and generally soaking up all the Kindleness they can.

But what caught my attention is the Amazon Press Release (  announcing that several major Newspapers will be offering a subsidized Kindle DX to interested parties…BUT ONLY TO THOSE WHO LIVE WHERE HOME DELIVERY IS NOT AVAILABLE!!! WTF

Amazon Kindle - Newspaper Launch Press Release

Amazon Kindle - Newspaper Launch Press Release

The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post to Launch Trials Offering Kindle DX to Subscribers Who Live in Areas Where Home Delivery is Not Available

Yes, Congratulations are in order. Newspapers are starting to catch on. But this half-assed move won’t take advantage of everything the kindle can offer these publishers.

  1. Printing Costs – If they made the Kindle Available to ALL subscribers they could cut down on the enormous financial drain entailed by the printing process, not to mention all the trees they’d save. One large initial cost of supplying reduced priced Kindles to subscribers vs. the prolonged costs of printing and distribution – I’d say this one’s a no-brainer, but that’s just me, I’m no financial guru.
  1. Mobility – The New York Times is launching their Adobe Run Times Reader 2.0 desktop application, which is all fine and dandy, but isn’t conducive to our mobile lifestyle. People need a compromise between reading the news on their Blackberry/iPhone and traditional print papers. That’s where the Kindle comes in…something we can use on the bus or the train…without squinting.

In short – Newspapers and the Kindle are made for each other. I don’t know if this quasi-partnership is just a testing phase for a bigger move (which I really hope it is), or if these Newspaper Execs still don’t get it.

Thank you Rob Pegoraro for bringing this to my attention. And stay tuned for his coverage on the topic for the Washington Post at


Please share your thoughts!