How Tech PR Pros Can Work Effectively With Media
Last night, LPP hosted the Publicity Club of New England's latest media roundtable discussion. The evening's focus was "Tech's Hot Trends," and was moderated by Matthew Lloyd, director of communications at iRobot (aka @mattlloydbos).
Panelists included Michael Farrell, newest technology reporter at The Boston Globe (aka @globembfarrell), Gregory Gomer, managing editor at BostInno (aka @sliggity), Eric Lundquist, VP Editorial at InformationWeek/ United Business Media (aka @ESLundquist), Dan Primack, senior editor at FORTUNE (aka @danprimack), and Dan Rowinski, writer at ReadWriteWeb (aka @dan_rowinski).
The room was full to over-flowing, and after attending a few of these in the past, I have to admit I was intrigued to see where the conversation could go and what has transpired in the 15+ years I've been working in technology PR.
Matthew Lloyd did a good job kicking off the festitivities and throwing out questions to prompt panelists to respond. Some of the comments from my perspective were priceless. "Don't bother calling as I never answer my phone," said one panelist. "I have 13,000 unread emails in my inbox, so don't be surprised if I haven't replied," said another.
(Although, as an aside and mildly ironic that when one CEO sent a video message via email to the same panelist, he mentioned that he opened it, although still couldn't recall to this day who'd actually sent it to him. I can only imagine how many of the audience members started jotting down, "make sure to suggest video message email from CEO in next team meeting," as a way to rise above the din. I'll confess, I thought about it.)
As you would imagine, there are already a few blog posts about the night's festivities, including a few good blow-by-blow descriptions. You can find them here, here and here. From my perpsective, and a few of my colleagues that attended, we felt it was well worth highlighting the following advice that came out of the discussion about how tech PR pros can work effectively with the media and bloggers.
Popular Quote of the Night
"PR is about building public relationships." This quote has become the popular lead in most blog posts. Full credit to Eric Lundquist, who in addition to being the longest sitting member of the tech media on the panel, reminded us all that the value in what we deliver is in the relationships we are able to build and maintain.
Best Reminder of the Night
"Be real. Don't sugarcoat something that's boring as s*it."
This was a great reminder by Gregory Gomer at BostInno. In this day and age of social media inspired conversations, it's a great reminder on what translates from those types of conversations into traditional and on-going practices. While what we may do is not easy, knowing what to pitch and what makes for a great pitch, is our responsibility and we do ourselves and our clients a disservice if we don't provide good counsel in this regard.
Shortest and Smartest Advice of the Night
"Don't lie. Don't pitch me on an important announcement when the CEO or senior most executive needs to be available and is traveling the week of the announcement."
Dan Primack reminded audience members that no one wins when you don't tell the truth. Sure, we can keep to "no comment" when asked the tough questions, but as Dan mentioned, there are ways to discuss what's happening, even for background that are far better than lying. Also, he had a great reminder for those pitching news that really needs the voice of the CEO or a senior executive to tell the appropriate story. If that voice needs to be the CEO, make sure he's available.
Trust is Still Extremely Important
When the topic of what do you like came up, and most panelists jumped on exclusives or sole exclusivity, it was also telling that most didn't believe embargoes they would honor would be upheld by all members of the media. Or, that there wouldn't be one media outlet that may be given the opportunity to run with a story slightly ahead of another media outlet. Most attendees laughed out loud when one panelist remarked, and don't give me an exclusive 30 minutes before the release crosses the wire.
Clearly not a good way to leave a lasting impression.
"If you have something to say, leave a comment."
This is a topic we've spoken about before on our blog, and a great reminder again last night when many of the panelists concurred they like comments to their stories. Especially comments where readers are passionate on a particular topic, and why something they've written about may not be 100% accurate or if there's a difference of opinion. A few of the panelists reminded the audience that they want to hear feedback. And, if we or a client feels strongly about something, share it with them. They still may not agree but they want to know.
Be a Resource
"The ability to be a resource is good. Always be there."
Dan Rowinski at ReadWriteWeb mentioned he prides the PR relationships he's built over time with those who are able to be resources. That could be as simple as making a conversation happen, opening a door, or helping to secure access to a company or executive he needs to speak with. Regardless, again, good reminder of what we can do as PR pros when we do our jobs well.
All in all, a great night, and full credit to the PubClub and the panelists for taking two hours out of an already hectic day to share thoughts, insights and their perspective. And, it served as a great reminder on why technology PR can be as interesting day-to-day as it is.