Social media’s newsworthiness: trend or paradigm?

Adam Singer from TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog makes a case for social media in PR strategy.An interesting idea he presents:

PR has changed – pull is now more effective
Pull PR is superior to push, there is no escaping this. A (not so) secret part of media is this: media report on media. It’s so simple, yet so overlooked. By becoming media you embrace a pull strategy naturally and will attract attention from all other types of media – both professional and amateur.

And I believe it.  Just as Zara gets burn from its just-in-time business model, organizations are currently seeing earned media results from social media innovations. But, the contrarian in me how to wonder: is this stractical or  simply novelty? That is to say, if social media is a trendy topic in mass or otherwise credible media right now, what happens when it becomes old news? Is this argument for social media right or right now?


Unsubscribed: Will the spam pitch kill PR?

A friend in PR and I were talking the other day about media lists. This friend was lamenting the difficulty in finding good lists for  print and online journalists and bloggers on specific topics: luxury travel, foodie, parenting, etc.

This led to me running down some of the media list aggregating services that I have used before: Vocus and Medianetcentral. The friend currently used Cision. The danger with these services, I warned, is that they make it too easy for PRtists to pile together a big ol’ list of names and e-mails addresses without actually positioning their pitches and press releases. That’s how, even with the best of intentions, you become a spammer.

And so when that same friend re-tweeted (did I say that right?) this from UnMarketing I thought it was only prudent to stractualize. Or stracticulate? Yeah, I like that.

In the tug-o-war between PR professionals and the media they’re trying to pitch to, both parties try to balance objectives with what they need from the other side. Okay, that was incredibly generic. What I mean to say is that the PR side wants to impress and interest the journalist with whatever product or story or angle they’re trying to promote. Journalists also need PR to feed them stories, grant them access to interview subjects, pass along products to review, etc. But don’t be fooled: PR is always a guest at this party and has to be on their best behaviour all time.

Unsolicited e-mail pitches or pitch spam has become the dominant force in 21st century pro-active marketing media relations. To extend the party analogy, the spam pitch is the guy who keeps opening beers without ever finishing them and won’t stop hitting on your girlfriend. The conversation about spam pitches lit up after Wired editor Chris Anderson published a list of e-mail addresses from (what he concluded were) PR spammers. And while this post may be vitriolic and punitive, he’s right for no other reason than these PRtists need him.

So, you’re thinking, the answer is we must all swear to uphold the sanctity of the incredibly narrowly-positioned and researched pitch and chastise those lazy charlatans who hurl mass e-mails to anyone labelled “entertainment” on a piece of software, right? We know who to blame!

Yet, like health-care reform or capital punishment, there’s three or four or 103494 sides of this coin.

As I’ve discussed before within the pages (posts?) of Stractical, I receive these spam pitches daily. Even with a finely-tuned spam blocking system, about five a day still pop through. The number of these e-mails that have actually piqued my interest, ever? One.  And just barely. Quite simply… it’s awful. And shameful. Somewhere, clients are paying for this to happen (though, with e-mail as we all know it only takes a second to send one or 500).

But at the same time, I’ve been on the other side. I’ve been an intern and a junior PR coordinator with billing commitments, managers breathing down my neck to produce a media list in four minutes. What was I to do? Those cool, crisp, focused pitches take research and style and most often a prior relationship with the writer. Juniors have none of this. To make the kind of media lists I should have been producing, it would have taken days, maybe even weeks. Which client was going to pay for that? So we resort to software and keywords, quantity over quality, our seniors look the other way and life moves on.

So in conclusion… we’re nowhere. Yes, there’s been some services popping up attempting to mediate journalists’ requests with PR supply but even when successful, they’ll never fill the void left if the pitching machines at agencies went away. But we know something must be done. And with so many of these spam pitches apparently bouncing back from vacated scribblers‘ e-mails, PR and journalism must solve the spam pitch issue before we lose the ability to tell a fantastic story pitch from a bottle of V1agra or a favour asked by a Nigerian prince.

When sick pigs fly?

GTA boy dies.

Mass panic for vaccine.

Short supply.

And now the Canadian government is on the defensive, reaching for Stractical Points. And after all the media reports of grannies turned away from vaccine clinics after lining up for hours, Ottawa is in tough as the architect of Canada’s pandemic strategy.

The government needs a two-pronged approach in reaction but so far, we’ve only seen one:

1) The “we’re not wrong, we’re right” approach. Effectiveness: Tactical.

A difficult thing to prove in the blusterous court of public opinion, especially when it comes to a public health issue.


A federal official said with 6-million doses of the vaccine already in circulation, Canada is ahead of the rest of the world on a per-capita basis.

“There is no shortage,” the federal official said.

What the official meant, I interpret, is that there will be no shortage — folks who want the vaccine will get it… eventually. But in the media/public vortex, the “shortage” means what’s available now. Normally, full points for using a comparison (Canada vs. the world) but in the context of public health, this declaration reads disjointed compared to the story being created around flu concerns.

But they help their case by backing it up with numbers:  Ottawa is releasing data saying over a million doses have been distributed already nationally. A lesson in the effect and simplicity of a statistic to capture a point which carried this “we’re right” approach from gut-reactive to tactical.

2) The “what we’re doing to make things even better” approach. Effectiveness: Stractical.

While approach 1 hinges on defence, approach 2 is how you put points on the board (so many apologies to Touchdowns & Fumbles for co-opting football metaphors) To do so, the Ottawa needs to communicate what happens next. What’s the timeline? What should people expect? But the government still appears hesitant to commit to comment on when vaccines will be available for everyone who wants one or why most of us aren’t in dire need of the vaccine this week.

And they probably have good reason to avoid this area: they just don’t know and are afraid to say. But until the Canadian government can bridge approach 1 to approach 2, only half a Stractical point is all they collect.

Now, anyone for bacon?

Swine Flu