You know you’re growing when… part II

February 19, 2008 10:36 am 0 comments

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Just another small observation.

In part one I said You know your blog is growing when legitimate local businesses start doing comment spam on your blog to attract new business / employees.

Now, I’ll say “You know your blog is growing when big local companies start sending you press releases”.

Now I’m beginning to realize why the life of a journalist can get miserable and thankless at times. If they’re faced with a flood of useless and pointless PRs about companies (“Today, our CEO stood up from his chair”… ok not really that), where each of those PRs are trying to put words in your mind or otherwise alter or influence your perspective, it becomes that much harder to build an objective perspective in the first place, and that much harder to provide the analysis that built value in your content to begin with.

PR reps will tell you that the objective of press-releases is just to let the press know about facts, so that when they’re doing a bigger story on a related topic they have adequate reference material. They’ll tell you bigger ecosystem of the news and media economy has many stakeholders – from regulatory bodies who decide on a higher level strategy for the economy, to the many small companies that each become one small piece within that bigger strategy.

They’ll spin a nice tale of how press-releases is the medium of conversation in such an economy – where each company just chooses to explain what they are doing and how they are being a piece of that strategy, and what their particular insight or perspective on that strategy is. That is why all stakeholders in the economy, even regulatory bodies, issue releases to the press.

They’ll try to make you feel good about yourself by describing the journalist as a ancient hero from some legend – the one person who will always choose to have a “bigger picture” vantage point in the economy, understand all the different roles the different stakeholders are playing, speak to the people at grassroots, and then actually start and continue the conversation about how that strategy is being played out and where it should go. That one word from one journalist can change the world.

I say: bah!

If all of that truly were the case, a typical press release would be no longer than the length of an email; in fact, the entire economy around a particular strategy could set up a blog or forum or some place where people can all come and talk rather than aggrandizing “their contributions and perspectives” – just talk, man!

If all of that were true, companies would leave journalists alone after the press-release to write whatever they want to write, and would absorb whatever critical analysis comes from them. They wouldn’t be calling, pressurizing or hounding those journalists to “correct” posts or articles after they’ve been published.

They wouldn’t be treating journalists as vermin slaves who can be “pushed” into selling their souls – either by influencing their reputation, or by pushing money towards them, or by treating them to lavish dinners and travel trips abroad, or by calling them up ten times a day and “negotiating” what that journalist is “thinking” by putting words in their mouths and minds.

If that were the case, the ROI justification companies used for PR efforts would NOT be: “How much newspaper space did this article take on the page — what would we have paid for an advertisement of that size? Thats how much money this PR saved the company”.

The truth is that all press-releases are created to influence perspectives and glorify the company writing them, that they are all pushed down the minds of journalists through one of many ways, including influencing their career path by threatening the newspaper to discontinue ads unless a PR is published; and they are done with such a high frequency that if a journalist truly is to meet deadlines a very lucrative shortcut appears to be to just copy-paste the PR and edit a few words here and there.

Unfortunately, the weak minded among us choose to do that, diminishing the entire profession of analytical journalism.

Rant over.

I never thought when I was doing supply-chain management consulting and building satellite base-stations that one day I’d end up becoming a journalist of sorts.

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