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Tips and Tools

On the Current State of Old-School Media Relations

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A couple of media relations tidbits appeared in the news this week: an Economist writer wishes they could involve a little more “old fashioned subtlety” while a certain PR professional argues that we should throw the telephone out altogether in favor of more casual email conversations.

It’s true, as Gini Dietrich wrote in the comments, that many recurring complaints are about journalists beating up on PR, which makes for an unfortunately easy target.

What, then, is the current state of media relations? Last week our friend Peter Himler penned a PRSA op-ed on the subject, and it’s well worth a read.

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Here’s Why You Should Never Make Another Follow-Up Phone Call to a Journalist

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OK, hold on: that headline is a slight exaggeration (notice we said slight).

Friend of the show Ed Zitron‘s latest story for Inc. magazine concerns the tendency of otherwise knowledgable PRs to overuse that most arcane of communications tools. Plenty of people know that cold calling is a bad idea but do it anyway due to a combination of desperation and the fact that this is the way things have always been done.

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6 PR Experts Weigh in on Google’s New Guest Post Crackdown

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Earlier today we posted on Google‘s latest in a long line of attempts to discourage spammy guest posts designed to boost sites’ rankings with keywords and the dreaded “dofollow links.”

As the marketing/PR blog world freaked out around us, we wondered: should we swear off guest posts altogether?

Of course not; today’s clarification from the kings of search says that you’ll only be punished if your sole reason for posting is the rankings bounce we mentioned. In order to understand what this means for PR, we asked several of our favorite contacts for their takes.

Quotes (emphasis ours) after the jump.

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Do Guest Blogs No Longer Make SEO Sense?

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“Head of the webspam team at Google Matt Cutts thinks so, as he makes clear in his own blog post. Because of his position, this proclamation carries extra weight:

“…if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.”

Google has discouraged everyone from relying on guest posts to boost search rankings for a while, but they’ve never released such a bold statement.

Might be time to rethink that aspect of content strategy for your blog, because it looks like the spammers have almost ruined an otherwise good practice.

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The Economist Has Some Problems with the Current Media Relations Model

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In a post on the Economist culture blog today, columnist R.L.G. compares the art of pitching to classic “I’ll scratch your back” bribery.

He apparently decided to rant after received a pitch regarding some sort of businesses partnership. The PR committed a cardinal sin with this sentence:

“It would be great if this somehow can be placed on Economist (print/Web)”

R.L.G. uses this faux pas to emphasize the shortcomings of the current model for media relations, which holds that one must never state the obvious to a journalist as one would to, well, pretty much anyone else. And yes, that is a little weird.

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The WSJ Tells the Olds How to Work with Those Pesky Millennials

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MIT researcher and aging specialist Joseph Coughlin has a bit more credibility than other Wall Street Journal “experts” like Morgan Fairchild and Suzanne Sommers, but a recent post in which he discusses the challenges of employing “the kids today” (and the very fact that someone titled it “A Survival Guide to Working with Millennials“) is a pretty good example of why this discussion grows so dull. Some “key takeaways”:

“…your younger colleagues…have grown up believing that productive interactions are online, on text and on video”

Because that couldn’t possibly be true.

“Just because there is not a rectangular table with you sitting at the head does not mean that work isn’t being done.”

We hear they make square tables now.

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Tweetdeck Security Flaw Exposed by ‘f gwenifill’ Trend

social-inside-twitter-iconDoes your agency use Tweetdeck? Do one or more employees access/manage multiple client feeds through Tweetdeck? If so, then you should pay attention to this story.

Things got weird on Twitter yesterday as an astonishing number of media feeds tweeted the same thing: “f gwenifill”. None of the feed managers had sent this tweet, so there was a lot of confusion before things became a little clearer.

Turns out Kate Gardiner, a writer and media strategist who you should follow, once managed the feeds of several different news organizations under the Newsweek banner. While attempting to delete her previous accounts, she posted a test tweet that should have instructed her account to follow Gwen Ifill of PBS—but every account for which she once had the keys or APIs posted the message as a standard tweet instead.

As we understand it, this is the kind of user error that will probably never happen again in precisely the same way, but it illustrates a flaw in Tweetdeck: the app stores previous managers’ keys even after the passwords have been changed.

Stick with us for one more minute…

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On Optimizing Content Before It Goes Live

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Here’s a not-so-super secret we bloggers share: no matter what Neetzan Zimmerman says, it’s often quite difficult to determine how individual posts will perform.

It’s one thing to track a piece of content after you press “publish”—and of course we’ve all taken Intro to SEO. But how can one most effectively predict the performance of content in order to, you know, optimize it?

We’ve reported on InboundWriter‘s products in the past, and we recently had a chance to speak with one of their clients to learn more about how her agency has been able to create more effective and engaging content by analyzing it before it goes live.

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Can Bad E-Mail Etiquette Make for Better Pitches?

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According to New York magazine econ writer Kevin Roose’s new LinkedIn Influencers post, the answer is “probs :-/”

Roose begins by writing that Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel‘s casual emoji email response to Mark Zuckerberg didn’t just make him look “arrogant”. It also clarified that this was a conversation between equals: no “”Hope all’s well” or “love your company”—just a simple “Thanks :) would be happy to meet.”

The point is that Spiegel, in his own way, played hard to get and made himself more appealing by dialing down the excitement most startup CEOs would feel after receiving an email from the guy who founded Facebook. Instead of waxing reverent, Spiegel addressed Zuckerberg like he was just another West Coast tech guy in his 20s. Oh, wait…

It’s the rare exception that proves the “adopt a formal tone in business comms” rule, but Roose notes that it can also apply to PR pitches.

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Prezly Launches New Data-Focused Mobile CRM

prezly-logo-facebookshareYou may have missed it at the end of the year, but online media distribution/analysis service Prezly has entered the UK market with a new CRM system launched via founding client H+K Strategies in London.

The release claims this new product will “help agencies escape Excel hell” and presto, we’re intrigued.

That line, of course, refers to Prezly’s cloud-based contact database feature, which presumably eliminates the need for such cumbersome spreadsheets. One of the new system’s big selling points is a greater focus on mobile; the newsrooms and press releases (like this one for Lexus, which our own Elizabeth Mitchell happened to cover) are “responsive” in that they adjust to mobile devices and include multimedia assets like images, videos and Twitter conversations.

Prezly’s own Jesse Wynants tells us why this new product matters to PR after the jump:

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