On Press Releases and the Media

I’ve just read an interesting article by Paul Graham titled “The Quite Submarine” Paul provides an interesting insight into PR firms and the Media, based on his own experiences.

The articles starts with:

Why do the media keep running stories saying suits are back? Because PR firms tell them to.

He points out that most of what we read is provided by PR companies and that journalists rarely go out and find information for themselves, they simply don’t have the time or resources.

Later in the article he mentions the effect that Blogs are in their small way having:

You can’t see the fingerprints of PR firms all over the articles, as you can in so many print publications– which is one of the reasons, though they may not consciously realize it, that readers trust bloggers more than Business Week.

I was talking recently to a friend who works for a big newspaper. He thought the print media were in serious trouble, and that they were still mostly in denial about it. “They think the decline is cyclic,” he said. “Actually it’s structural.”

In other words, the readers are leaving, and they’re never coming back.

Fo me this is definitely true, maybe not quite so much with newspapers, but definitely with television. TV stations customers are their advertisers and they seem to care little about their viewers. They keep moving our favourite shows around to different time slots, stop showing them for a few weeks (which just happened over Easter), or just pulling them altogether. Customer loyalty must be at all time low as more and more of us turn off and find other ways to entertain ourselves.

A Podcast I listed to recently talked about a newspaper in a US town starting more of an interactive paper, where they set up a web site to enable readers to comment on stories. These comments would in turn influence how the paper followed the story in the days ahead. Whether this is genuinely usefull or not isn’t the point. The point is that they are trying something new and involving their readers (dare I say customers) in the process.

Pauls articles concludes with:

PR people fear bloggers for the same reason readers like them. And that means there may be a struggle ahead. As this new kind of writing draws readers away from traditional media, we should be prepared for whatever PR mutates into to compensate. When I think how hard PR firms work to score press hits in the traditional media, I can’t imagine they’ll work any less hard to feed stories to bloggers, if they can figure out how.

Everything is changing. Getting publicity for products like the ones I develop is more difficult than ever. Folks are being pulled in every direction to do all sorts of things they didn’t have to do a generation ago. Time becomes more precious for everyone. We simply don’t have the luxury of spare time that we used to have. And so we need new ways to get our message out, ways that don’t ram rubbish down peoples throats and don’t treat them as crash-test-dummies.