WTF’s a #Masquertweet

Some of this info in this post has been updated – after reading, please check here for more info.

Well it started innocently enough…

For those of you who have been following me for some time know I tweet anonymously for numerous reasons. As does @prdude and @aerocles recently became more open with his id (check his blog http://aerocles.blog.com/ as well as prdude’s at http://www.indefenseofpr.com too!).

And so we went here

and here…
Along the way @jessisjuicy hopped on (w00t!) and we came up with a name:

(Because #twitterade sounds like something you drink after a long tweeting session.)

Unfortunately @prdude refuses to sing Broadway show tunes and snuggies have been banned. But we are expecting cupcakes (and cupcakes ? men! ;)) and have a few leads out for booze distributors.

We believe it might be the first masked tweetup (though we may be wrong). There’s also been some talk of mixing it with #tweetnaked.

And so where are we now? Here’s what we know:

  • The #Masquertweet will take place in NYC
  • It will take place sometime in July (not the week/end of the 4th) July 16th
  • We do not have a venue yet, are seeking one and have been in contact w/ Heather Dueitt @hdueitt who’s got some great leads.
  • We’re happy to consider vendors, anyone wanting to provide promos, etc. drop one of us a tweet or email.
  • To be kept in the loop, RSVP yes or maybe at http://twtvite.com/0cv35v http://tinyurl.com/rsvp09
  • We’d love to make this totally free/open bar – so sponsors very welcome. Or buy this apartment and I’ll put all the bounty money into the event (Please send any other reward arrangements our way, we’re happy to advertise…).
  • This is not a flack only event…assistants can come too ;). No really, any and all are welcome, even journos =]

If I’ve missed anything (pretty sure I have), drop me a note or a tweet.

–PRCog

Some of this info in this post has been updated – after reading, please check here for more info.

Dear Journalist … (Part 2)

(Please see Part 1 for the intro to this post).

PS – There is one more reason we won’t stop — it works.

We (Flacks) have all gotten an undeserving hit at some point or another in our careers.
Whether

  • the story was so great the reporter didn’t care that we called when they’ve only asked for emails, or
  • it was such a slow news day in Miami that a story about something in Minnesota made it into the local section

we’ve all had a great hit from the combination of dumb luck and a hastily built list.

If there’s even the slightest chance of a random hit, what’s it hurt to increase my list by another 50-500 reporters. Costs me nothing but a hit could be out there, just waiting for the right time. Would you waste the chance?

Sincerely…

Dear Journalists … (Part 1)

Dear Journalists (and bloggers) –

Gina is right. So is Chris. We (flacks) as a group, generally suck. As a whole it took us a long time to catch on to the whole blog thing and we’re still a little terrified about it. Generally there’s no publisher to threaten appeal to and your commenting readers are of the One Flew Over the Cuckoo nest kind of nuts.

But this is really directed to mainstream press…

Here’s the thing – and I’m sure most of you realize this, you’re mostly pretty smart folk – we do what we do (including overmailing and blind-mailing) because we have to. We’re hired guns – the client comes to us and the conversation goes something like this –

“Hey Flacks – we want a story in The Metropolitan Moon about our widget.”

But it’s the MetroMoon – they don’t generally cover Widgets, or anything similar.”

“They wrote something up 10 weeks ago.” (Produces trend story).

“Yeah, that was in the lifestyle section on new, modern, widgets. It’s a trend piece – this was before you hired us, they aren’t going to redo the story now. Most people never have a reason for a widget in their life – 2 stories in a year, much less 3 months just isn’t going to happen.”

“Well we want in. If you can’t or won’t pitch it we’ll find another agency that will.” (May not be stated, but is always implied).

“Oh. Ok, we’ll pitch it”

And then the thought process begins – how can I pitch this to a great pub., that just isn’t going to care. Inevitably one of the following pitches will be produced, sent and perhaps follow-up pitched –
  • To the energy editor – “Just wanted you to know that some widgets by widget co are produced with clean/wind/horse/nuclear energy”
  • To the religion writer – “You may not have known this but the factory workers at widget factory have a religion”
  • To the kids/family writer – “We wanted to remind you (and your readers) that widgets are totally appropriate toys and not at all a choke hazard”
  • To the W. Coast bureau chief – “We wanted to let your office know that widgets are really popular out there and may merit a story.”

You see where this is going.

It isn’t that we don’t care – we do, we’re just trying to do what our client wants even if it’s not best for them because (and I know you understand this) they won’t end our contracts if we do what they say even we advise against it and sometimes it takes a phenomenal failure (under their instruction) to be given a bit more rope to do it right. And potentially worse for all of us, if we do pushback and they go to another, less reputable agency you’ll get the same crap, but worse since the new agency is likely disinclined to push back even a little against their newest client.

Then again, sometimes we don’t know better. Here’s the other, not uncommon, scenario….

New client – sells Tidgets wants press. He opens the first meeting with ….

“So, we’re launching a new Tidget the day after tomorrow, 8a eastern time. This launch can’t fail, we’ve spent nearly 7 figures on the R&D so we need everyone to cover this. No it can’t be moved – we’re ringing the bell at the NYSE that day.”

Forget whether or not the MetroMoon even covers Tidgets – we’ve got to learn the Tidget trade mag scene intimately in about 24 hours, craft a strategy, implement it and measure it.

After stopping all other projects, calling all-hands meetings and figuring out WTF a Tidget is, much less what could cost nearly 7-figures in making one, do you really think the first things we’re going to do is dissect each issue of:
  • TidgetWeek
  • Month of Tidgets
  • Tidgets & Widgets
  • Tidgets Worldwide
  • Widgets International, with a quarterly Tidgets International supplement

to see who the exact proper beat reporter is?

No, we’re going to our database and searching for Tidget beat and Tidget ‘pitching notes’…even if the pitching note says “Not interested in Tidgets, I think they’re the scourge of the Earth.”

Yeah, you’ve got a blog called “Tidgets Today” that doesn’t cover Tidgets for some reason — tough, you’re getting the release and the follow-up call. Heck we may even be a bit drunk to get the nerve to actually make these calls (ok, not really, but we’ll wish we were).

And this doesn’t just apply on coverage topics, it’s also a geographic issue.

Imagine if you will, the days before the popularization of the internet – the midsize shop in NYC knew the regional press and the trade press. If a project fell outside that parameter they found a colleague in another small shop in the proper part of the country/world. So when NYC Co. opens LA Office small shop in LA gets directed to handle the LA press under NYC’s guidance.

Now we’re all national (if not international) agencies because we can see every paper on the planet every day and most for free online. Of course all the small-medium NYC agencies don’t read the LAT everyday, we’ve got enough NY papers to keep up with, but you can bet if a client walks in and asks can we handle an LA project the answer will be yes. Why? Why not just farm it out to the LA agency?

Two big reasons – dollars and cents.

This year in particular we’re all trying to bring in as much as possible now. We’ll worry about later when later happens. The other big issue – even if our client loves us, the second we look at them and say “we can’t do that” (even if there’s a good reason why not) we run the risk of losing the client altogether, not just for that one project – either to a larger agency (which always poses a threat) or to a similar agency that is willing to lie and/or blindmail everyone possibly interested.

So we pick the lesser of the two evils – staying in business and keeping the client and doing our darndest to not bother too many people or hit outside the interest area. Do we succeed? Certainly not all of the time…

Oh, and PS …. (see part 2)

Dear Client…Let’s review what deadline means and what it means to you

Dear Client —

Ok, let’s review what deadline means and what it actually means to you.

Yes, technically a deadline is “the time by which something must be finished or submitted; the latest time for finishing something” (dictionary.com) and so you’d think a deadline for an interview is the time by when it must be completed.

That would be true.

It’s also true that it may be completed earlier.

Journalists do not have due dates (like in school) where it’s all the same if an article is turned in on Wednesday or Friday. For them there IS a difference between finishing close to the deadline and finishing days before the deadline.

The most notable difference is time, which allows for more reporting or writing and/or free time (depending on if they’re full-time or freelancers and how ambitious they are).

That doesn’t even take into account being the first to break a story or provide profound information for a developing story.

If…scratch that…when we land you an interview and offer time slots do not automatically go for the last one because you feel like it. If you wait 2 (not unlikely) things can happen:

1) It’s completely possible Life will happen to you or to the journalist (kid breaks arm, emergency root canal, power goes out, building evacuations) and then you’re stuck because the journo’s deadline probably isn’t extended because of Life. The story, shorter than originally intended has run and you’ve now been edged out because you couldn’t take 15 minutes on Tuesday and decided to wait until Friday.

or

2) The journalist has been interviewing tens of other people for the article and it’s mostly written meaning your “authoritative” comments (which are the same as everyone else’s in the industry) will be 4th fiddle, shoved somewhere in the middle of a story, if they even make it in at all.

When the page is blank it’s easiest to get ink. Once the work’s been done you’ve gotta have something real special to make the reporter do a significant rewrite.

So, the Fortune Cookie lesson is – take the interview as early as you can without breaking the laws of physics, it costs you nothing but significantly ups your odds of getting ink.

–Your ever-humble PR Cog
www.twitter.com/prcog

Flacks queue up for own bailout

This is all in fun. None of the people mentioned in this ‘document’ actually exist (to my knowledge) and certainly the events aren’t happening (I hope).

News Alert
For Immediate Release

Flacks Attack DC – Seek own bailout funds

Representatives from the Humble Four, the world’s leading PR agencies, have petitioned Congress for their own bailout fund.

Richard Pitchtoohard, current CEO, Chairman and President of PitchTooHard Media Relations noted in the industry’s appeal letter, “All of our biggest clients – banks, automakers and the rest of the bastards have come to you begging for money. Well guess what – we’ll be grabbing our ankles when they get it to keep their business so we’re going to need a little somethin’-somethin’ from you.”

A ‘bleeding-edge’ translator was called in to decipher the remainder of the letter.

Pitchtoohard’s sentiment was echoed by other members of the group – Dale Illspamyou, head of ProperPR; Jimmy Callmenow of RationalThinkingRelations; and Howard Coverthis from GetPressNowB__ches Communications.

Ancillary members of the ad hoc group, including specialty service providers for press release distribution services, database providers and SEO strategists submitted supporting documents — all in the form of invoices with pleading comments scrawled in the margin. Some standouts include:

  • “Please give them money, they pay, no joke – all our bills.”
  • “Without these schmoes using our service we’re done for – we can’t live on public company announcements alone.”
  • “Would you prefer my 25 or 27 year old daughter?

The group did not mention a specific amount needed for their bailout, noting instead that “they were not greedy, we’ll take anything you’ve got leftover after the auto-industry.”

-End-

On Twitter @ http://www.twitter.com/PRCog