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Should We Be Nicer to PR People?

newsweek_premailsThis week, Newsweek published the diary of a journalist who read and replied to every PR email that came through his inbox for a week.  I clicked on that headline like the sucker I am, though I am usually against* “I Did X For A Week” pieces that seem to be coming more and more popular. From talking to strangers to doing your kids homework, they usually scroll a few digital pages (click! click!), are formatted journal-style to make them easy to read, and often include just the right amount of snark and existential anxiety that make them easy to finish, comment on, and share. They’re digital publishing stunts.

But, anyway, could you imagine replying to every PR email you received?

I’m just a lowly blogger. I don’t know that it would actually set me two or three hours behind each day to answer all the emails and invites I get. Maybe half of an hour. But I still get a lot of them, and usually ones that make no sense to me. Why is it that so many PR emails are so wrong?

Assumption 1) Because PR is actually a skill that too many people think they have. And too many startups or party planners or grad students with a cool Kickstarter idea are just hijacking friends or broke college grads to do it. Sometimes even when a pitch is just remotely related to something I write about, if it’s well done, I’ll consider it for a minute. Good PR is sort of like porn, hard to define, but you know it when you see it.

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Do You Yo? And Should Your Newsroom Be Yo-ing?

yo-its-that-simpleIt’s getting harder and harder for me to keep up with what the kids are doing these days, but I’ve at least heard about ‘Yo’. If you haven’t heard of it yet, the app is a messaging service that bases its platform around the frequent sending of a two-letter word: “Yo.”

No fancy filtered photos. No emojis. Just one, single greeting (with possibly a link/short hashtagged tack-on, thanks to a recent update). Whenever you want to get someone’s attention, you simply send “Yo,” and ideally, your straightforward message would notify your friend, the receiver, as effectively as a text message or email might. According to the American Journalism Review‘s Cory Blair, the app has seen 2.6 million downloads since April 1 of this year. For whatever reason, people are really into “Yo-ing” eachother.

Reported Blair, the Washington Post‘s audience strategy and social media teams want to experiment with using the Yo app for letting readers know when stories have been published. As if Twitter’s 140-character limit doesn’t present enough of a communication challenge, Yo provides even less space for disseminating information. The idea is to have WaPo readers and social media followers who use the Yo app to follow the newspaper on Yo. Then when they have a story to share, they will send a “Yo” to subscribers, and those folks get a notification on their phone. No need to open up (or pay for) a news app to get instant access to news anymore. Others including NBC Nightly News and the Nieman Lab are doing it, too, Blair wrote. Publishers can choose how and when they want to “Yo” — it could only be for beat-specific stories or at a certain time of day.

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Last Call for Inquirer-Based Kickstarter Project, With Even Better Rewards

nobosspinIs it just me or does it feel like everything in the news this week is a little bit out of control? In the name of a lazy transition, that’s probably how Will Steacy felt as he started to photograph the newsroom of the Philadelphia Inquirer to document all the changes it, too, was undergoing. The result? You can see for yourself here. It’s not exactly a cheerful distraction, but it’s a gorgeous portrait of how our practice has changed over the years.

There’s just over 24 hours left to donate to his Kickstarter and fund his tribute to journalism, evolving newsrooms, and the power of some good images. Our favorite part? The rewards for donating; you will get a copy of the book and newspaper, Deadline, with most donations, but for $100, you can also write your own obit in 140 characters or less to be featured in the book. Or get a  ”No Boss Shall Rule This Town” pin for $10. For bigger bucks, you can get historic back-issues of the Inky, as I grew up calling it, or a piece of brick from the “Wedding Cake,” the Elverson Building where the paper was housed from 1925 until a move down the street in 2012. For $2,500? You can spend a night at the printing press with Steacy as it goes to press.

He’s already reached his goal, but it’s a noble cause. And it’s better than dumping a bucket of ice on your head.

Does Your Newsroom Throwback on Thursday?

hashtagIn the name of clicks, and appearing to be social media savvy, news organizations have hopped on the #tbt train. For those that live under a rock, #tbt is the hashtag used for “Throwback Thursday,” an excuse to post your prom picture on Instagram, or tweet a link to an old blog post you’re especially proud of.

News organizations have started their own throwback features as an excuse for mid-morning Thursday content. When done well, it works as a good way to get people to dig through your archives or remind people of your authority, as in, “we’ve always covered politics, here’s a piece from 1943 to remind you of our expertise.” Read more

Friday Roundup: The Week in Journalism

huffpostAPtweet.jpgIf anyone complained about dog days of summer in the newsroom, this week you got what you wished for. Here are some highlights in all of the chaos that was the news this week:

1) You can’t win if you’re covering Gaza. John Stewart illustrated this best in a skit on Monday night. And the New York Observer called out the New York Times for what it thinks is biased coverage of recent events. The ‘paper of record’ doesn’t think it’s doing anything wrong. What about you? How have you been staying objective — or have you decided to ditch that effort?

BREAKING: Dutch military plane carrying bodies from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash lands in Eindhoven.

— The Associated Press (@AP) July 23, 2014

2) A lot of us need to read slower and learn AP style. On Tuesday, the AP tweeted about a plane carrying the victims of flight MH17. AP style is “crash-landed,” anyway, but a lot of us journos need to slow down. It was like we were waiting to start a fight with them. Read more

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