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Friday, September 05, 2008
10 don'ts for PR people on social networks (by a reporter)
A person in PR who knows me on Twitter asked me to put together a list of PR don'ts for an upcoming conference that I won't be able to attend in Dallas. I think I've developed a reputation for being stern, but helpful, to PR people who pitch me stories. Here's what I sent her:
Top 10 don'ts of social media for PR people (from a reporter's perspective)
by Omar L. Gallaga
1. Don't assume you're "friends" with a reporter because Facebook says so. Substitute the word "contact" for "friend" in all instances.
2. Learn to use privacy controls to limit who sees your personal info: we don't want to see your bikini/boxers photos from Cancun. Well, OK, we DO want to see them, but we won't think it's very professional.
3. One e-mail/phone message about a product or press release is fine. Two is pushing it. Three borders on stalking.
4. If you have a reporter's e-mail and phone number, don't send pitches over Facebook or Twitter unless that reporter says they prefer to get work-related information that way. Many reporters on Facebook and other social networks use them for personal networking, not for news gathering.
5. Don't assume that because you send a reporter information over a social network that it will be given higher priority than information sent via other channels.
6. Get to know the reporters you're pitching. Read their stories, skim their blog and ask them what kinds of stories they're looking for when you talk to them. That's a good general rule, not just on social networks.
7. Good Twitter users don't just post; they listen. Be an active listener and contribute to the conversation.
8. Having a Twitter or other social media account that does nothing but spit out links to your clients' products or your company's blog posts is not contributing to the conversation.
9. Don't take it personally if a reporter doesn't follow you back on Twitter or agree to friend you on Facebook. Some reporters are uncomfortable connecting with PR professionals on social networks.
10. Unless you specify that something is private or embargoed, assume anything you send a reporter on a social network could be reposted, blogged about or mocked. Be careful what you write.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Suddenly, lots of stories
About seven or eight years ago, when I was editing a section of the paper that no longer exists, I was lucky enough to hire someone for their first reporting gig.
I'd only been a full-time working journalist myself for a few years, but I was able to impart at least one bit of wisdom: not to stress the ebb and flow.
Unless you work at a place where you have a quota of stories per week, most beat journalists go through periods where things just dry up and periods where it seems like they're everywhere at once.
We were a weekly section, so if a few stories fell through, it could look like a reporter had fallen off the face of the earth.
It's something I try not to stress about now that I'm back in a reporting job, but sometimes I just can't help it. There are times when stories you plan out with your editor just don't work out for whatever reason; all the time you spent researching or lining up interviews go to waste. And sometimes, especially in a section of the paper that's planned out in advance like Life & Arts, the way stories are scheduled means you sometimes can't find a space for a story to get in the paper.
Sometimes, though, the opposite happens: you go through the fallow period, and then all the stories you've been working on appear in the paper in rapid succession. That's happening to me this week. Apart from the stories I've linked to previously here, I had a story in the A section today that was a quick-hit piece about Sarah Palin that just sort of happened. And then a blog entry I wrote about Facebook became a section-front story. And in Sunday's paper, I have a Masters of Their Domains feature (and video) that has been in the works, I kid you not, since almost a year ago. (These things are scheduled waaaay in advance.)
One thing that's made a big difference is that my editor has been keeping an eye on my work blog and getting entries from there into the paper.
I think this is for a little while -- I don't have any stories scheduled for a little while. It's nice to kind of ride the wave of a bunch of stories appearing. I hope I don't sweat it when it's been a little while, though.
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