There’s appears to have been a flurry of blogging activity in recent weeks regarding the collision of three apparently different worlds – blogging, journalism and PR.

As I’m trying to inhabit all three worlds at the same time, it has proved an interesting and illuminating time.

I’ll admit my head has been sent spinning by some of the comments, claims, accusations and suggestions that have been sprinkled about. I’ve also been nodding my head in agreement and – depressingly – in recognition at some of the things I’ve read.

Am I any clearer to understanding how these three worlds can combine in some sort of harmonious, mutually beneficial understanding?

Of course I’m not.

But it does make for some interesting reading. So this is what some are saying.

Our Man in Newcastle (soon to be Cameroon) has also been inhabiting these three worlds and sees nothing new about many of the complaints currently being aired. As he points out, we all need to get along so let’s try and build up some understanding.

His take on it was inspired, albeit a little negatively, by a plea from That Canadian Girl about the way PRs pitch to bloggers. There’s a few suggestions for a positive way forward at the end of her open letter and a fairly mixed bag of responses from those who have commented.

It is a theme taken up Pete Ashton, who was seemingly missed out by an email campaign aimed at Birmingham’s blogging community waged by local radio station BRMB. He comes up with some useful tips on approaching bloggers.

Thanks to Pete for pointing me in the direction of this lament for newsroom days and nights long gone from a 58 year-old US journalist who classifies himself as the last of dying race.

But then there’s freelance journalist Sally Whittle, who came to the conclusion that journalists suck having looked at the industry from the outside whilst doing some PR and copywriting.

Finally, fellow WMBN member Online Marketer is less than impressed by those colleagues who seem to think effective PR is achieved by shouting the loudest. Although I’m not familiar with some of the personalities in his post, the issues he raises certainly resonate.

Many of the complaints coming from bloggers about being pitched at by PR people are nothing new, journalists have endured the same sort of approach for years.

For example, this typical phone call from my time in the features department of The Birmingham Post:

  • Me: (Having already introduced myself) Hello. Can I help you?
  • Caller: My name is Antonia and one of our clients is Givenchy. That is G-I-V-E-N-C-H-Y. My client’s products are now going to be available at a new boutique in Manchester. Obviously this is an exciting news story about such a luxurious brand coming to your area, so I’ll send you the press release and you can tell me when you are going to use it.
  • Me: This is The Birmingham Post. That’s B-I-R-M-I-N-G-H-A-M. We are quite a few miles from Manchester, maybe you should try some of the newspapers in that city?
  • Caller: (fairly incredulous) So you’re not interested at all?
  • Me: Not in Manchester stories, no.
  • Caller: I can’t believe that. Put me through to someone else.
  • Me: I’m the Chief Feature Writer and I’m telling you we are not interested.
  • Caller: (long, irritated sigh): Give me the name and number of a newspaper journalist in Manchester then.
  • Me: (Laughing) Are you serious?
  • Caller: That’s not a very helpful attitude.
  • Me: Go away then (replace receiver).

I remember it vividly as Antonia complained to the editor. That was another mistake as the editor’s attitude towards her was a little less patient and apparently involved some far more fruity language.

It is the type of approach that bloggers are now rejecting. So some things have not changed in this new age.

Throw in nervy journalists, who are currently undergoing a massive shake-up in the way their “old” industry works, and confusion and suspicion are bound to be the dominant emotions.

Having spent a couple of years now inhabiting these three worlds there really aren’t too many differences between us all, no matter what some in each field like to think.

People still get it wrong and some get it right.

Nobody likes being pitched to in such an ignorant, arrogant or “one size fits all” way.

A little homework goes a long way.

One world. One love?

Yeah, right.

2 responses »

  1. ourmanwhere says:

    I think the “pitch” is the red herring. I keep repeating with this – it is all about the story. If it appears written on toilet paper – yet its worth printing – then it should be printed.

    The pitch isn’t there to pamper the ego of hacks and bloggers (whose egos seem to be out of control) should recognise this too. It doesn’t matter how they get the story.

    We hear too much about phone calls between PRs and hacks and not enough about any kind of news sense. You don’t include press releases to do PRs a favour. You do it because they are worth reading.

  2. Paul Groves says:

    Ourman: Absolutely right. I think Sally Whittle’s experiences are far from being a one-off. If the story/release stands up on its own merits, why do we have to go through all the meaningless stuff and nonsense?

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