12 July 2007

I didn't realize transparency online was a new idea

Todd Defren and Brian Solis are writing some pretty smart stuff about Robert Scoble's decision to ignore email pitches and pay attention to Facebook pitches instead. They're saying Facebook's very public format will force PR pro's to do a better job because their pitches will be public.

I realize I'm the new guy around here, but I thought we wrote pitch notes and emails with the understanding that they might become public anyway. I've handled the pitching I've done for mainstream media and the offline world the same way. If you don't want to look like a tool, don't write something foolish and then send it to someone else. However, I guess Defren and Solis have a point, since my blogging friends send me copies of the bad pitches they receive fairly regularly.

I'm not naive. In our industry we often work on sensitive communications issues that often call for discretion and confidentiality. In these situations, if you need to get information out in a targeted way, hopefully you've built relationships with people you trust. Journalists don't use terms like "on the record," "off the record," and "on background" simply for their own convenience. A lot of my work focuses on salient political or legal issues, and there are important reasons to use the the tools journalism provides us.

But here's the thing: many bloggers are journalists, but most bloggers aren't. You can't expect that your pitches and other notes to a blogger will remain private. If you're in online PR and you don't understand this, you won't be in online PR for long. I consistently tell my clients and colleagues if transparency or confidentiality is an issue then online outreach is generally not a good fit.

So if you're operating under these basic principles, you really don't have to change the way you work just because you're sending a pitch to a Facebook page instead of an email inbox. Frankly, I rather like the idea of being able to just pitch a client publicly on a well-traveled Facebook page like Scoble's.

Of course, now I'm wondering how often Scoble will want to check his Facebook page once it's flooded with what used to be in his email inbox.

1 comment:

The Irritable Elephant said...

Excellent point about pitch letters. Any public relations professional who knows his or her rear end from a hole in the ground knows the "Washington Post rule"; never put your name on anything that goes outside of the company that you would not want on the front page of the Washington Post.

And the Scobelizer? He's reading too much of his own press.

The Irritable Elephant