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December 14, 2010

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Dave Saunders

It's amazing how many people I encounter who continue to follow this spammy approach. They look at a service like PRweb, not for its ability to drop a story into the news portals and connect directly to the reader, but rather for its ability to spam thousands of reporters around the world with a horribly written news release that even their own mothers wouldn't finish reading.

Frank Strong

Thanks for your comment Dave Saunders -- checked out your blog and enjoyed the post about being "on message."

Strictly speaking about PRWeb's distribution: it's entirely opt-in. This of course doesn't prevent a someone from individually from sending a link to anyone they wish. For many reasons that's why we spend a lot of resources hosting speakers like David as a means to educate the industry. Hit us up anytime @PRWeb.

Bob James

Mr. Scott, you obviously fail to appreciate the fact that the Sub-5 Nanosecond CX Family Service Card can be redeemed for one free Jurassic Chicken Tidbit™ at any Rain Forest Cafe. Hence the tie-in to "clouds." Good post!

Keith Jennings

I get a kick at how supposedly experienced (and educated?) marketing professionals consistently make the most rookie mistake in the book: they don't sell what the buyer wants.

What do journalists and bloggers want to buy? Unique stories, of course.

Not products. Not pitches. Not pleas.

Nice, nice lesson, David! Hope you're doing well as we careen toward 2011.

Lukas Ziolkowski

Hi! I'm Luke form Poland, and I would to thank you for your's book "The New Rules of Marketing and PR". It is very useful and helpful! Thank you for it! Our website is already starting, so with help from your book it's hope to get success.

I wish you health and happiness.
Luke.

David Meerman Scott

Glad that people read this post. I thought the title was fun but VERY confusing unless you read the post.

Dave - Frank is right. PRWeb (and the other press release services) do not send out unsolicited email of press releases. Somebody would have manually added my name to a list somehow.

Bob - Love it! Thanks for making me laugh.

Keith - I wonder who hires these sort of agencies.

Luke - Glad you liked the book and thanks for letting me know. Did you read my book in English or Polish?

Ned Barnett

David - As a long-time PR consultant (and, twice for about five years each time the editor of a trade magazine), I continue to be horrified by the really Bozo mistakes some PR people still make.

Back in Silly-Valley's heyday, serious PR people used to get together online and in person and laugh at the really stupid gobbledygook buzz put out by PR Twinkies ("end-to-end" is a classic). A decade later, they're still doing it. I think "tech" is the worst, but it happens elsewhere, too.

If you're a real PR Pro, in addition to the wire services (I usually use BizWire, but others are good), you custom-create very targeted lists from a reputable source like Cison (nee: Bacon's), then get to know those reporters (as you suggested). Then send them news presented as something their audiences legitimately want to know. Any other approach is indeed SPAM.

I take it a step further and try to create relationships with the top 10-25% of the carefully-targeted media, then periodically feed them news even if (especially if) it doesn't relate to my client. This way, they see me as someone who understands what they want and is willing to share, even without benefit.

An expert in this approach is my webmaster and friend, Jube Dankworth of Net Media Consultants in Dallas - she knows the Home School media and Religious Broadcasters media markets (and the publishing market) and can really narrow-focus pitches there.

Another expert in this is Daryl Toor at Attention! in Atlanta - his expertise is in high-tech, new product launches. Both are worth getting to know and following, IMO. They define "pro" in their niche-market media relations.

David Meerman Scott

Ned -- thanks for sharing this valuable advice and pointing us to a few PR pros.

Oliver Cheatham

It's amazing how the most effective practices in business are the simple things of life. You wouldn't approach someone important on the street that you don't know and ask them to write about you, so why would you do it online? I find that the most effective business strategies relate to the simple things of life that we already do. Good post

Dianna Huff

David,

Like you, I get lots of spammy press releases. I delete all of them. (I'm not even sure how I get on some of these lists.)

I write about companies and their marketing on my blog. The best pitches are from people who know who I am and who send me personal emails explaining what they're doing and why I might find it interesting.

I ask all of these people why the contacted me. Almost all of them say, "We've been following you for months."

Of course, it's much easier to send a spammy press release and report these sends as "ROI."

Alex Vasquez

David,

I enjoy what you have to say about marketing online. I just finished writing on my Blog, "Why Blog?"

When I finished reading your book "New Rules to Marketing and PR", I learned a great deal of what it really means to market online. In your last statement in your blog tonight you stated, "Don't pitch your product.Most journalists don't care about products. Instead…
Tell us how your organization solves problems for customers"

David, why do most companies don't get it? Don't advertise to people about your new product, but rather tell them (the consumer) what you can do for them? Thats what its all about. I am working for a organization that refuses to Blog to reach people. Well, I created a slogan that I believe says it all, "Rich Content, Rich Relationships, Rich Gains" Isn't that the bottom line to why we market online?

Thank you for your insight to the world of marketing and PR online.

David Meerman Scott

Oliver - exactly!

Dianna - Amazing, isn't it? A personal approach gets attention.

Alex - "Why don't companies get it?" Lots of reasons -- 1) laziness. 2) Growing up in an product-focused advertising culture imprinted on the brain 3) Learning about marketing & PR in school or on the job and being taught the old ways.

Gurnage

David,
You hit the nail on the head. PR is about creating relationships, providing helpful information and becoming a valuable source. Too much emphasis is put on numbers with agencies and companies - how many releases were sent out, calls made, etc. It's not a numbers game and until they understand that, spam is here to stay unfortunately.

Ian

Hi David,

At least some good has come from the awful press release - a funny blog post.

A question on your point about "Don't pitch your product.
Most journalists don't care about products.
Instead…
Tell us how your organization solves problems for customers."

That's not universally true. If Apple is launching a new product, do I want to hear about how Apple solves problems for customers - or do I want to hear about their cool new piece of kit? Clearly the latter.

I'm guessing Apple and a small list of other genuinely cool technology companies are the exception to the rule. And I suppose the problem is that most tech businesses think they fall into the "exception to the rule" camp, when in fact they don't.

Ian

David Meerman Scott

Gurnage - "Relationships vs. Numbers" = nice summation. Thanks.

Ian - I agree that with a small number of companies (Apple is one) products do matter. But note how Apple does it -- put Steve Jobs in a black turtleneck & jeans on a stage. It's not based on pitching press releases.

Remco Janssen

Hi David,

Actually I knew what the post would be about once I saw the title. The PR Coach just posted something similar about the worst press headlines ever. My favorite in the list, as always, is Zyxel, or ZyXEL as they call themselves for no other apparent reason as to look smart??

The fun thing is, they translate their Gobbledygook English press release straight to Dutch as well. So you have a press release which leaves you clueless to what it's about, and then a PR firm let's a say junior - my assumption - translates the whole ordeal. Twice the fun! I kid you not.

I have blogged about their releases before, even more than half a year ago. One would think they might read it and comment. Hell no. Too busy writing techie press releases I guess ;-).

Here is the ZyXEL release: http://www.1888pressrelease.com/zyxel-ventures-into-2-bay-media-server-with-the-launch-of-ns-pr-261971.html

And the post by PR Coach:
http://www.theprcoach.com/bad-press-releases-20-worst-headlines-ever/

Thanks again for the insight!

David Meerman Scott

Hey Remco - yeah I was sort of waiting for Vello Systems (or their agency) to comment on this post, but so far they have not.

Jillian Kingsford Smith

Hi David
I'm currently finishing a 3 month stint as editor of my sister's newspaper. "The Warialda Standard" is a small country newspaper in regional New South Wales in Australia. Folks out here like farming news, weather stuff, profiles of their kids doing school activities and of course, they love their sports! The paper has been published for over 115 years and the brief hasn’t changed.

So why is it that on a weekly basis, I receive 'media releases' (to use the term loosely) on hair scrunchies, The Sydney Harbour Bridge (which is located over 1000 kms away), Hawaiian vacations and yes, Vello Systems' nano-gigmonitor whosimagicit?

I think it's shear laziness of the PR 'professionals' - particularly the younger ones. Quantity over quality and targeting seems to be the modus operandi. Similarly, I think the clients like to see volume of distribution too, rather than one or two succinctly-targeted pitches.

Fortunately, there’s a few people getting it right week in, week out. And you know what? They’re consistently the in-house marketing teams. Whenever I receive an email from them, I’ll always open it as the material is thoughtfully presented information. They’ve gone that extra step in researching their customers and the market..... something the great majority of PR seems to be totally inept at these days.

Ian

That's interesting re Apple/turtlenecks.

I guess the general rule is "if your tech is cool enough for people to be interested in it in a press release, then you don't need one".

Ian

David Meerman Scott

Jillian -- What a terrific comment and from the perspective of a journalist. Thanks so much. BTW - I just booked a 3 city Australia tour. Hope to see you again.

Ian - Yup.

Claire Celsi

The PR list building and wire services HAVE to take some responsibility for the incredible spamming capability of their service! There has to be a way to use a data sorter to eliminate some of it. You can literally spam thousands of reporters at a time with the push of a button. And the PR services make it OH SO EASY by pricing their packages to add more and more for one price.

Dave Saunders

Hey Frank and David, Yes I should have used "spam" in quotes there. What I meant was that the distribution system that it offer to forward releases to journalists from various industry groups doesn't really help if you're still writing bad releases that no one wants to read. It's not PRWeb that is spamming--I recommend them as a service all the time--but rather the bad release which is the "spam."

Sayo Martin

Let us face the facts: Vello Systems is not the sexiest b-2-b product in the world, it doesn't make for the most ideal dinner conversation starter, its not "cool" and since a wide majority of writers of hi-profile tech pubs are writing about cool tech, how does a product like this gain media/public visibility? Most of the time it doesn't. I think most agencies, on retainer and judged on how many hits they get (its a dirty job but someone has got to do it) send out a blanket pitch to as many tech writers as they can regardless of what the writer writes about. Is it the wrong way to go? Absolutely. Should they target journalists that write for vertical sources dedicated to the audience the product is made for? Absolutely. Still, how many writers have actually received a pitch that wasn't targeted to what they write about, but was pretty damn good, and actually passed it along to another journalist who may be interested? Probably not many. While we press on the "laziness" of PR agencies, I see that there is definitely more than one faultline in this equation.

David Meerman Scott

Sayo - While I agree with what you're saying here, there are two things at work with the stupidity of this particular release and the zillions like it that people like me get every day.

1) It is about something in an area that we do not write about.

2) It is product centric.

So if a PR agency wants to interest someone like me to pass this on to a colleague, writing about a product using language that only a specialist can understand is not the way to do it.

Lukas Ziolkowski

Hi, at first time i read your book in english, than i found in polish.
i have a favour to ask of you about the "withepaper" of www.prweb.com. I can't login on this site, so i cant download this book. Would you like to send me "withepaper" on my e-mail? I will very thankful for that! Thank you. Luke.

David Meerman Scott

Lukas. I don;t know what white paper you are talking about.

Lukas Ziolkowski

Its on www.prweb.com. "Withe Paper : How to intergrate social media, email and SEO" by MarketingSherpa. Its free to download on prweb. Its on general banner on prweb. its number one. I dont have US number phone, so i cant create account. only users can download this book, it seems.

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