Talking to journalists is a waste of time: David Maister

Professional services guru David Maister has a provocative post here regarding the value of talking to journalists (admittedly in the context of professional services firms).

He says: "Experience has taught me that being quoted like this
doesn’t really help promote my business or affect the likelihood of me getting
hired….I think the marketing benefits of talking to
journalists, and press coverage in general, are way over-rated for professional

On one level, he has a point. An isolated quote probably isn’t going to result in a boat load of sales enquiries. But generating many of these over time absolutely goes towards building credibility with key audiences. Also, it doesn’t take into account how that quote can be used in other marketing activity – even if prospects and customers don’t see the original article, nothing to stop you using links to these articles on our own website, DM, advertising, etc. David seems to have fallen into the trap of considering PR in isolation. Although one quote in itself may not be do the trick, how you maximise its usage certainly can.


Did you get my press release?

One of those questions that journalists have hated since the dawn of time – and still do. Depressing that the practice still seems to occur with such alarming regularity. A useful reminder here, courtesy of Strumpette, of the reasons why it was and is a bad idea to ask a journalist whether they got your press release.

Why I like LastFM – 3 cheers for Sp33cylad

Now and again, LastFM introduces you to a band or artist you would never, ever have come across by any other means – I’ve very much enjoyed the track Friends Reunited from Sp33cylad – get thee to here for a free download of the track.

Test mobile post

Test mobile post
With pic.

Sent using a Sony Ericsson mobile phone

Mobile/e-mail posting on Typepad

I guess you’ve been able to do this for a while – but I’ve just not
got round to trying it out.

So let’s see if it works.

The most useful website – ever

Someone just sent me a link to VideoJug – what a mine of useful information. See the current top 10 videos below – you get the idea

  1. How To Get Out Of A Car Without Showing Your Knickers
  2. How To Kiss Someone Passionately
  3. How To Tie A Tie – Full Windsor Knot
  4. How To Fold A T-Shirt In 2 Seconds
  5. How To Undo Her Bra With One Hand
  6. How To Be The Perfect Girlfriend
  7. How To Fold A T-Shirt In 2 Seconds – Explained
  8. How To Create A Smoky Eye Effect
  9. How To Seduce Your Boss
  10. How To Perform The Perfect Golf Sw

PandoraFM – great example of useful Web 2.0 mash up

I’m a big fan of the big two music discovery services – Pandora and LastFM. I like each one for different reasons – Pandora serves music to you based on the way its in-house musos categorise each track. LastFM works on analysing what music you play and tag. I’ve tended to favour Pandora until recently, mainly because of its tight integration with my Squeezebox. However, although I’m probably way behind the curve, I made 2 excellent discoveries over the weekend which has much improved my music listening experience.

First up was PandoraFM. Clearly I was not alone in wanting some way of getting Pandora to "talk" to LastFM – ie to have my music selections on Pandora "scrobbled" by LastFM. So hats off to Gabek Kangas for his great little Web 2.0 mash up – by logging into PandoraFM, all my selections are logged by LastFM – you can also use all the usual LastFM functions such as tagging, "loving" and "banning". Very neat, very clever.
And a great example of the speed with which such solutions can now be developed by anyone who has the  motivation and patience to meet a need. I gather Pandora actually opened up the API to him in order to make it work more efficiently – another good example of open-minded behaviour.

Next, I wondered whether it might be possible to play my LastFM stations via my Squeezebox – and guess what, you can!  Step forward James Craig who has written a v. nice SlimServer plug-in that does just that. Again, because the SlimServer software is built on open source, it means a whole raft of new enhancements can be built by people like James and shared with the world.  The plug-in list for Squeezebox seems to grow by the day. I now can’t live without the AlienBBC plug-in which allows you to play all of the BBC’s archived audio content via your hi-fi. Bit like time-shifting for radio.

Perhaps some bright person could develop a LastFM style site for press releases – ie journalists could "scroble" which releases they read and then create a profile which would accurately reflect their interests and tastes?

PS For anyone interested, my LastFM profile is here and Pandora profile here.

The economics of commodity PR

While perusing Glyn Moody’s fine blog on all things open source, I chanced upon this little item.

As Glyn says, "this insightful presentation
by Brent Williams, a self-styled "(temporarily) Independent Equity
Research Analyst" is unusual because it manages to combine a good
understanding of the open source model and world with some grown-up

It was the section on the economics of software as commodity that set me thinking about the parallels with the PR business. Talking of commodity markets generally, Williams says:

No switching costs to buy from a different
producer (other than the notice period, there is no cost involved involved in firing an agency).

Market prices are a function of changes in
supply and demand -producers can’t affect demand, only supply.  (Hence during the dot com boom, agencies could hike their prices due to demand – but can’t stimulate demand in a shrinking market)

Pricing moves quickly to find a point of supply/demand equilibrium (hence the average day rates of agencies are falling – even if agencies try to keep them high, overservicing to satisfy client demand brings down the real rate)

“Excess” profits quickly disappear and producer profits revert to the mean of the economy as a
whole (which is why PR agency profitability is generally very low)

Lowest-cost producer wins in a commodity marketplace, because they can sustain “excess”
profits longer than all other producers. (Except with commodity PR, the biggest cost is people. So trying to squeeze costs on staff ie get them to do more for less, leads the well documented issues of morale and lack of quality personnel).

And given most agencies are operating in commodity mode, then the long term outlook for most of them is not exactly rosy.

Guy Goma/Kewney most popular BBC footage of 2006

Says Guy Kewney.

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