And a good day to you, sir! I hope you guys are having a lovely day so far. Me, I’m always having a good day. Y’all my bread and butter, and you work very hard to keep me and the nine billion other journalists on the planet happy and able to do our jobs.
Well, speaking of those nine billion other journalists, let’s get right down to brass tacks today: There aren’t really nine billion, but sometimes, it sure feels like there are.
As a journo, the best feeling you can have is that shiny, brilliant, “you heard it hear first” feeling. Breaking a story feels like having a kid or getting paroled early.
On the contrary, being told about a story after your competitors have already covered it feels like crap. You get the put-upon girlfriend syndrome. “Why was I not good enough”? you cry to your editor over Skype. “He told me it was exclusive. I’m not even sure that word means anything anymore.”
Word to My PR Homies #5: Be knowledgeable and graceful with us and our competitors.
Never, ever so much as hint to a journalist that you’re giving him an exclusive, a preview, or a first crack if other outlets know about your client or product. You know that’s what we want to hear, and you know breathing those sexy little words will increase your chances of getting press coverage, which is a big part of your job description.
But guess what? You can pull that trick exactly once. With some of the better equipped journos, you can never pull that trick. If they’ve been burned, they’ll comb their competitors’ blogs for prior coverage, and your game will be out in the open before you can say, “But it was under embargo.”
(A little side note for those in the trade: Some blogs have policies about embargoes and whether or not those [arguably arbitrary] deadlines will be honored. Make it your business to know which are which, and proceed accordingly.)
Also, please be understanding of the fact that if your exciting but (for now, at least) small-potatoes startup has just launched a couple new features and one of my competitors has already written it up a couple days ago, including that link in your email to me is a red flag that I don’t need to cover the story. It sounds harsh, but let me tell you why:
The Sloppy Seconds Rule of Tech Journalism: Your press release is like a chick. If my buddy already “dated” her, I don’t want to “date” her unless she’s really, really, really hot.
And that’s why I can’t cover your 20,000-users-strong Facebook app two days after Mashable writes it up. It’s also why every blog published at least two posts each about Bing and Wave last week. Those chicks were really, really, really hot.
The very best things to do are 1) promise and deliver an exclusive, or 2) play fair with everybody, sending the same release at the same time.
It’s chauvinistic, but just think of your release as a chick, and make that chick’s mother proud.
Love you guys! Thanks so much again for making my job possible and – some days – quite a pleasure!