Friday, August 24, 2007

Is the SMPR the death of spin?

In my mind, PR people walk the line between officers who 'provide information' and those who 'create messages'. Our role as advocates for clients makes us an easy target for journalists who claim that only their unbiased, unaffiliated point of view provides factual news without the spin.
Who can blame them for calling us spin doctors, when we call and e-mail them with elaborate pitches designed to get more media time for the client of choice.

What happens when you cut out the pitch?

The Social Media Press Release, in it current form developed by Shift, does not have a pitch or even a narrative. The template itself calls for bullet points. Have we, with the SMPR, lost our jobs as creative story tellers? Or more important than our creative whims, have we lost our ability to craft stories that advocate for our clients? Is that a bad thing?

For some, like Tom Foremski, a former Financial Times reporter, it's not:

"Press releases are nearly useless," Foremski writes. "They typically start with a tremendous amount of top-spin, they contain pat-on-the-back phrases and meaningless quotes. Often they will contain quotes from C-level executives praising their customer focus. They often contain praise from analysts, (who are almost always paid or have a customer relationship.) And so on..." [ Adweek]

But he is not the only voice in the debate at Others aren't quite ready to see the pitch go quietly into that dark night.

"A little creativity goes a long way with reporters who read about synergy and crap like that all day long. One of my favourite things about my job is the fact that I can be as creative as I want with our press releases, and it always seems to get approved, regardless of how ridiculous it is.
Frankly, that's always been my problem with the SMPR. I like it in theory, but its just-the-facts format seems to neuter the ability to be creative with the release" [ The New PR]

When we remove the narrative from our releases, Are we losing our ability to be creative and connect with readers and journalists or are we freeing ourselves from the bias and manipulation we so often get called out on?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


If you didn't get enough of the class discussions or lectures .... or maybe couldn't make it to Moore 309 on Tuesdays & Thursdays ... there is still hope!

Download the class-cast!

Kinda like a podcast - but not as cool. Okay, fine. It isn't really even like a podcast at all. It is just an audio recording of class. Semantics.

The class-cast episodes are conveniently located on the right sidebar just waiting for you. Or subscribe & get all the new episodes delivered to you as they are uploaded.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Week 2 Readings: History

The Thursday reading for ADPR5990 Social Media is a NYT article from earlier this year about evolution.

Think it has nothing to do with social media? We'll see how long you feel that way after class on Thursday.

Monday, August 20, 2007

wiki editing ethics

A NY Times article (registration required) on a new wiki-scanning service is calling attention to the practice of corporate edits to Wikipedia:
Since Wired News first wrote about WikiScanner last week, Internet users have spotted plenty of interesting changes to Wikipedia by people at nonprofit groups and government entities like the Central Intelligence Agency. Many of the most obviously self-interested edits have come from corporate networks.
I'm assuming all these companies who tried to add a little PR spin to their wiki entries have never hear Josh Hallett speak about what a big no-no this is. Or seen Constantin Basturea's call for PR practitioners to operate ethically in the wiki-world.

One of the biggest "fear not" lessons in the book Naked Conversations is that your loyal customers & supporters will come to your aid online to help diffuse negativity. In my opinion, it is okay to correct the record (with full disclosure of who you are). Many tools - including Wikipedia - offer even better opportunities for becoming a part of the conversation & this is a good start for organizations with wiki content issues:
[...] the “talk” pages are where Wikipedia encourages editors with a conflict of interest to suggest revisions.

“If someone sees a simple factual error about their company, we really don’t mind if they go in and edit,” he said. But if a revision is likely to be controversial, he added, “the best thing to do is log in, go to the ‘talk’ page, identify yourself openly, and say, ‘I’m the communications person from such and such company.’ The community responds very well, especially if the person isn’t combative.”

The big thing is to know the community & the norms before you jump in.