How to be a Bridge, not a Roadblock for the Media: Part 2 2

Back in August, I wrote a post about the need to be a bridge, not a roadblock, for Michael Arrington, Robert Scoble and others. The main points I wanted to cover at the time were: “We are all arbiters of the news”and there’s no reason PR practitioners can’t be a part of the groundswell. I also began to hint at ways we can assist the media in today’s 1,440-minute news cycle.

Well, after reading Chris Brogran’s look at the “building block” approach to blogging and catching this tweet (pictured above) by Marshall Kirkpatrick, I’ve been inspired to expand on how PR practitioners can build that bridge (block-by-block) with the media by focusing on these little (technology-related) things.

  • IM: Dave seems to be on to something by utilizing IM as a reminder tool that breaks through the clutter. I’ve found more and more reporters and journalists (especially bloggers and Web-centric reporters) are including their AIM screen name in their email signatures. Now this doesn’t mean that they are opening the door to being pitched regularly by AIM, but it does give you an additional outlet for pressing matters and updates. I correspond with the guys at Silicon Alley Insider (Dan Frommer and Eric Krangel) a lot via AIM and they’re often appreciative of pre-call updates and messages via IM (that get their attention), often more so than phone updates. Of course, many of the mainstream business reporters are on AIM as well (John Markoff’s use has been chronicled) and in my experience they are often more receptive to instant messages (assuming you’ve built a relationship with them) than direct messages via Twitter (Markoff gave some of his thoughts on Twitter in this Web interview with us last year).
  • Twitter: Twitter has really become the best avenue for PR folks to become part of the groundswell. It’s activeness has opened a whole new opportunity for PR practitioners to present not only their clients, but themselves as great resources. Simply highlighting tweets that individual reporters would find interesting (based on their beat and what you know about their current focus) is an easy way to further build a relationship with a reporter or put yourself on the map with them for the first time.
  • Gmail-friendly emails: Saul Hansell of the New York Times highlighted this for everyone in the industry back in November, but it’s certainly worth restating. Reporters are busier than ever and more and more they are relying on email search to find the sources / contacts for stories. In a lot of ways, emails (and AIM, Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook) have replaced adding outlook contacts, which a long time ago replaced rolodexes.  Saul’s main point in his post was that a lot of the emails he gets are so weighed down by marketing jargon, he: 1) Can’t understand who the company is and what they do and 2) Could never find them if he was searching his email for a prospective story topic. In order to make sure your client ends up in his (and other reporters’) searches (and eventual stories) you need to be able to simply say who your client is, what they do and what the overall topic / trend is. This can be hard to do when you have clients asking to see what you are pitching (it happens in the beginning of most AOR relationships) but it’s something that we need to speak frankly about and educate our clients and other marketing professionals on. There is a technical art to the email pitch today and it’s a play on SEO, journalism and relationship building – not a “cold call” marketing / sales blast.

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