Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine and author of The Long Tail, has more words of advice for PR people -- and they're all worth hearing. Anderson, you'll recall, is the guy who got so fed up with PR spam that he 'outed' 300 PR people who had sent him unwanted PR pitches, posting their emails on his blog and putting them on his blocked senders list.
Anderson recent gave an interview to the Daily Dog and had lots more valuable advice for the PR industry. Among his tips:
A lot of people drew the wrong conclusions from my post--that I wanted phone calls, relationship building with PR or to meet at lunches. I don't want that. I just want people to understand my interests. Read my publication! And realize that I am not the inbox for the publication. I just want people to take a moment and think about who I am and what I want before hitting send. Email is fine. The problem is not thinking, "Who is this person and what would be meaningful to him?"
There's a huge paradox in PR: The PR cycle of releases and emails is driven by the client. But the receptivity cycle is driven by whatever journalists are intellectually interested in, assigned to cover or pursuing. So the truth is this: If I'm expressing interest in open source software and you can see that in my stories or blog, then you could send a note acknowledging that.
The best email ever would be something like, "I saw your post and thought my client is a perfect example of it." That's not driven by the client or a release. It's driven by serendipity--your spotting my interest because of your research. I would love it if we saw more of that kind of thing, but it rarely happens.
I can't remember the last time a random press release was useful. But there have been loads of times that somebody spotted a post and found synergy or made a connection and put a release at the bottom of their email because it was a fit. That's fine--but spray and pray doesn't work.
How do the concepts in your book "The Long Tail" play into this?I love this interview and I think everything in it is a learning opportunity for PR people. I have one major quibble though: in his last point, Anderson says "it's not about.. The New York Times now. Instead, it's about seven million blogs..." Wrong -- it's about reaching people through the New York Times AND the seven million blogs. The Times isn't going away, either in print or online. It still reaches a huge and influential audience. But this new medium of social media has sprung up, and it reaches a huge audience as well and we have to learn to work with it TOO.
It's all about the fragmentation of markets and the shift away from mass market products to millions of niche products. It's exactly the same for the media and PR. It's not about reaching everybody through The New York Times now. Instead, it's about seven million blogs and learning to communicate with those fragmented audiences or communities. Traditional PR is oriented around mass media. The new era is about niche media. That is PR 2.0. It's also "Long Tail PR." We're releasing a new version of the book, called "The Longer Tail," in January. It will include a new chapter about long tail marketing, which also impacts PR.