Hacking PR

When companies have news they want to push out, they often reach out to the “press” for the given industry to try and get it covered.

Manipulating news and gaming PR has been well documented. Ryan Holiday made a book out of how much he manipulated blogs and news organizations for American Apparel and others. It was so nauseating I couldn’t even finish it.

“Hacking PR” is possible, yes. Bloggers want to write good stories and break news. But don’t tell someone you have a scoop for them and then give it to everyone under the sun. You can do that… once. Then you are done with those journalists you gamed (or at least the ones that care about their craft). No decent journalist wants to be your PR arm, and they’ll remember when you game them or stretch the truth.

What company PR folks should do is choose a single publication for a story, and give them a proper scoop. Let the journalist post it even before you put it on your company blog. You’ll gain goodwill from the journalist and I’d argue you’ll even get more exposure. Readers like “scoops” too.

Publish it on your own blog after the fact, and point to the journalist’s piece.

Journalists will write better stories when they get scoops.

I often get asked to wait on a story until the company is ready to publish. Sometimes I get promised a scoop and then when I’m about ready to publish half the industry’s blogs are publishing the same story with the same quotes. Screw that.

You’ll be much better long term if you put yourself in the shoes of the publication. Give them a scoop. Give it just to one publication. Rotate the next story to another publication; nobody will get upset about that. They’ll maybe still publish the news and give credit to the other publication.

But gaming everyone into thinking they’ve got the scoop, when they don’t, won’t make you any long term friends. They’ll just ignore you the next time.

I write industry news. I’m not anyone’s personal PR arm. I’m happy to cover news that matters, but don’t tell me you’ve got something for me and then give it to everyone.

Good journalism (and PR) is about relationships. Relationships are two way streets.

Posted in Web

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