So, imagine the scene…

You’ve sent your shiny, perfectly-formed, stunningly-interesting press release to all your target Press. Not a single irrelevant media contact has been emailed. You have absolute confidence in the power of the story contained within your PR correspondence.

And then?

Nothing, nadda, zilch. Three days pass and not a single, salutory email or phone call from any of the contacted editors.

What next?

Don’t fret, panic or take it personally.

I receive 250 emails per day from company prs, in-house marketers and PR Agencies dealing on behalf of clients across the UK. And roughly 10% of them are worth reading. As in, worth taking a closer look because they are actually, fundamentally newsworthy and may interest my readerships. No sales pitches, PR spin, irrelevant waffle, just good old-fashioned News.

So, are you being honest with yourself?

Ask yourself these questions:

1. Is the press release just a poorly-worded sales effort?

2. Is it really relevant to the target readership?

3. Is it about current or upcoming News in the business, or a re-hashed story from 3 months ago?

4. Is the accompanying image of appropriate quality for the publication or online portal?

5. Is the editorial well-written, punchy and without waffle – does it succinctly tell the story?

6. Have I given the press release to a third party to check before emailing it to the Press?

If you can pass the above questions, and still no contact from the Press, be patient. Be persistent. Keep sending the right PR, in the right format, at the right time, and within our deadlines. We’ll get to it eventually.

Oh – and never, ever, ever ring us to see if we’ve recieved it. You’ll often find an expletive offends.

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Interesting question – and in the light of this recent article from the team at HoldTheFrontPage – a particularly relevant one for newsroom staff and freelance journalists alike across the UK.

It appears that the proposed media mergers may not be such an attractive and sustainable proposition after all. With expected in-fighting, ongoing cutbacks, and the impossible attempts to merge different newspaper ideologies on a regional basis, there may need to be a re-think on how to keep the British newspaper industry afloat in the regions.

No coincidence, then, that the 108-page report submitted for consideration by the leading regional publishers currently lobbying the Government to relax the rules on mergers are also keeping the details of their document private at this time. Perhaps it contains reading which regional editors would find hard to digest?

Perhaps the focus remains firmly on the number-crunchers cutting editorial – even in the simple fact that balance sheets for many of these leading regional publishers continue to highlight significant profitability across titles.

The report and attempted moves to regional merger will provide slim comfort to the thousands of journalists across the UK already feeling the pinch of greed-laden Management. Would you collaborate with a competitor to survive?

Would you? Many newsrooms may be asking themselves this pressing question. Your answer?

Following this recent report to the House of Commons, in which analysts predict the closure of 50 per cent of all local and regional newspapers by 2014, it begs the question – what will happen to the redundant journalists?

Will they be able to successfully navigate their skillset online, or into corporate comms roles?

What would you do – would you ever, in all honesty, ever accept a newsroom position in the UK again? Is it worth it?

The smart Hacks are already brushing up their online skills, learning new packages with which to operate via the Internet: take a look at the editorial jobs boards across the country: companies are crying out for digital content editors, web editors and similar.

It’s not so much that the editorial positions are redundant – more that the industry’s ability to adapt and survive appears to be redundant. The one constant thing in life is, after all, change. Stop moaning and starting upskilling.

Re-posting this one following the recent Oxford Social Media Convention and the ongoing debate regarding paid-for content: which saw a measly 5% of readers polled today stating that they would pay for news content: the rest are already heading off to the nearest free news site for their daily news digest…if the readers decided the content, perhaps they would value it more…

Re-post:

Readerships deciding content? Novel idea. Could it take off? Time will tell, according to this story from Paul Bradshaw’s blog.

One of the main USPs of recently-launched London-based www.theblogpaper.co.uk aims to be allowing readers to vote for the content to be used. Giving the readership control of the content online, and letting bloggers integrate directly with the news stream.

Interesting. Truly exciting and coming from a UK publisher, too. Despite the reliance on advertising as a revenue stream, the site aims to offer an alternative view on the selection and dissemination of news. Moving away from traditional editorship.

As a balanced, objective editor, I can see the pros and cons here: it’s a fascinating proposition. You decide on its merits.

And it’s changing rapidly, according to this item.

The proliferation of blogs is opening up the news gathering and sourcing process, and many traditional journalists see it as a threat, not an opportunity. For my own NCTJ training and background, I view anything which adds value to a story or debate a good thing – particularly if it comes from the grassroots level, the readership. The audience has a valid say too, you know.

More so, if we claim that as media representatives the only valid editorial inputs come from the trained Hacks sitting in out-dated corporate publishing structures, rather than acknowledging the inherent value and relevance of those on the ground, actually in the news itself, we are limiting the full scope of what journalism can be in the future. The debate needs to be open.

Maybe, as the increase in PR copy into newspapers and magazines continues  – and let’s face it, with recession comes editorial cutbacks, forcing editors to rely more and more on whatever the PRs push in front of them – we’re going to come to rely on the other avenues of valuable copy contribution. I’d trust a blogger’s inputs above a PR’s on any deadline today.

I happen to believe that blogs and tweets are an incredibly-usefly part of the stream of news and feature input into any newsroom. But then again, you may be an old-school Hack who isn’t used to being challenged by the readerships, and who thinks you have the sole rights to conveying the news. It’s a brave new world online, jump in, the waters lovely.

Interesting findings here, according to this excellent article and the European Digital Journalism Survey 2009 results. It would appear that the majority of journos – touching nearly 70 percent – are happy with their lot and proud of their editorial products, despite the advance of digitalisation in the newsroom.  Hurrah.

Let’s face it, locating and generating news is more effective, readily-available and profitable than ever before, thanks to the web and online social media networks such as Twitter. Unfortunately, many traditional Hacks seem stuck in nostalgic self-destruction.

If I had to be back in the daily onslaught of a newspaper News Editor again, faced with a 3pm deadline, I know I’d rather be able to utilise web-based tools and techniques to get the job done, rather than the neolithic methods used when I came fresh-faced and green from NCTJ training. Kids these days never had it so good, and all that.

Well, I thought the week had been going a little too smoothly. And, as if by magic, within three minutes of that thought, a PR relative of the infamous Rubella Pymley-Bowles from Ostentatious PR was on the phone. And she truly surpassed herself.

In the words of Run DMC, it goes a little something like this:

Phone rings.

Editor: Hello, ****** speaking.

Rubella MkII: Hi. Do you have a Features List?

Editor: Sure, for which magazine. We publish two here and a number of business Directories.

Rubella MkII: Oh right. Erm. Don’t you do the Disability magazine now?

Editor: ‘Fraid not, that title was pulled more than a year ago. Don’t you have any up-to-date Media databases?

Rubella MkII: Erm. We might have something of use to you.

Editor: Only if it’s relevant to the printing and/or sign industries – do you?

Rubella MkII: Erm. Aah. We promote hearing aids.

Editor: Can’t see how my Readerships will be too bothered about that. Do you have anything relevant?

Rubella MkII: Isn’t that relevant? Can you use that for those magazines?

Editor: Not unless we launch a niche magazine to hard-of-hearing print directors. Or deaf sign makers. Ahem.

Rubella MkII: Erm. (No laugh, or indication of a joke having just been made)

Editor: Thanks for the call, I must get back to production on our totally-irrelevant-to-your-Client mags.

Rubella MkII: Erm. OK. Bye.

And there we have it. Now, before any of the fabulously effective, switched-on PRs and PR Account Directors out there deem it fit to tell me I was harsh and unfair on an individual who is so clearly an inexperienced, ill-informed, and pretty damn green PR Account Exec, think on this – who instructed her to put the call through in the first place?

Aah, yes, an Account Director, looking to write something/anything under the ‘Media Relations’ column of Deaf and Dumb Hearing Applications Ltd’s PR Client Contact Report for the month of August. Give me strength.

Re-posting this following an incredibly-pointless media call from a London-based PR fluffy…

First things first!

PR people – when you are in the process of ringing editors to check and see if they received the press release you emailed 12 days ago (how painfully annoying is it when they ring up chirpy, gormless, and completely unaware that their head is firmly stuck up their own arse?!) – ask this simple question FIRST:

“Hi, is this a good time to talk – are you on Deadline?”

Rather than launch into a micro-pitch about the benefits of your Client’s latest widget-thing to the readership of my magazine…you will win SO many more brownie points if you demonstrate a bit of understanding of how a typical Newsroom works.

Typical PR conversation:

PR: “Hi is that the editor?”

Editor: “Yes.”

PR: “GGGRRRRRRRREAT. Hiyaaaaaaaaa, this is Rubella Pymley-Bowles from Ostentatious PR. We are representing the client More Widgets Limited, and I emailed over a press release 12 days ago about their latest widget, which is being launched exclusively in a remote part of the country tomorrow. Was the press release of interest?”

Editor: “I get 250 emails a day from PRs.”

PR: “RIIIIIIIGGGGGGGGGGHT. Busy then? Gosh! (pauses on phone) So…did you read the press release?”

Editor: “And it was sent 12 days ago?”

PR: “Yah. I thought it would make a lovely News story for your readers.”

Editor: “All our News stories for that magazine are picture stories. You didn’t send any images. Have you ever read the magazine?”

PR: “Sure, sure, sure. So, shall I re-send it today with a Client company logo?”

Editor: “Company logos are not appropriate images for a News story, unless the story is a re-brand. Have you read the magazine News section before?”

PR: “Yah. I can re-send the press release right now with a company logo.”

Editor: “I am not sure you are understanding me. You need to send relevant images at 300dpi resolution – no logos thanks.”

PR: “I think there was an image with the original press release – can you check?”

Editor: “Not right now. As I said, I get 250 emails per day. And I am on deadline now.”

PR: ” Sure, sure, sure. I will re-send the press release today with an image and call you to check you have received it then – is that ok?”

Editor: “Which email address do you have for editorial here?”

PR: “I don’t have that information to hand.”

Editor: …confirms email address…

PR: “GREEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAT, I’ll email and call you later then.”

Editor: “It would be more useful if you simply email the information. Again. With an appropriate image. At 300dpi resolution. As I have already mentioned.”

PR: “Sure, sure, sure. My account director asked me to check if you had the client information.”

Editor: “Wonderful. Does the account director read the magazine?”

PR: “Yah.”

Editor: “Excellent. So this conversation, in reality, should never have happened then. Had you been fully and properly briefed. Or even better, if you had read the magazine before randomly picking up the phone.”

PR: “Sure, sure, sure. I’ll re-send the information and call you later in the week.”

Editor: ” Just the email will be fine. I don’t need a follow-up call from you to confirm that I have received your re-emailed information. As I mentioned, I get 250 emails a day from PRs, and would rather not get multiple emails covering the same stories from PRs. Thanks.”

PR: “Ahhhhhhhhhhh, sure, sure, sure.”

Editor: “Thanks Rubella. Goodbye.” (puts down phone before PR continues to waffle and returns to deadline, muttering a select choice of expletives including fuckstick, arse and muppet).

Any PRs who consistently ask an editor if they are on deadline BEFORE a random pitch win my vote.

Interesting article here on the potential of Twitter and the use – or misuse – of social networks by certain newspapers across the Pond. It appears that the majority of the American newspapers studied have been using the social media darling as a piece of ‘shovelware’, rather than engaging with the audience. They have been pointing their tweets to one place – their Home page.

Blimey, sounds like they’ve been following some of the British regionals’ tepid and shallow attempts on Twitter. I spotted a regional daily newspaper editor with a new Twitter account recently – and although I won’t name and shame him, the example illustrates superbly the mis-understanding of traditional media folk regarding social media.

This guy just doesn’t seem to ‘get it’ or maybe he hasn’t been given enough budget by the money men to spend a bit of time researching and understanding the site. The concept of giving quality content to enrich a community without payment is obviously an alien one to grasp. Wake up – and welcome to online publishing. This is how social networks thrive, buddy.

The daily newspaper editor is following nobody on Twitter. He has posted once in six weeks. He has closed the inbox message facility. So…he is on there for the sole reason of, well, being on there. No engagement. No interaction. No dialogue.

Erm…no point.

And what an insult for an educated, contemporary, media-savvy readership across a UK city to take on board.

One of the main concerns the newspaper number-crunchers in the UK have consistently demonstrated is not the quality of  content delivered online, but whether it can be churned out profitably, irrespective of the effect on intelligent readerships.

We all know that to win points on social media networks, you’ve got to give, give, give. And then give some more – hardly within the comfort zone of the majority of traditional British publishers. In the words of Hannibal, quid pro quo Clarisse.

My advice? If you can’t engage with the audience, don’t waste THEIR time by clogging up valuable social media space.

Had an interesting meeting with Chris Brown, Editor and Founder of new regional online news site Bristol247.com recently.

Here’s a guy that’s got it right – for the readers, advertisers, and online consumer in general. Great service and fantastic business model. Plus, a genuine, sparky, fun, professional, switched-on, and digitally-savvy commercial editor.

Not just that, but the site offers something new, refreshing and contemporary  – not just a re-hash of newsroom content, as you’ll find here. At last, an online content portal for news-hungry readers looking for objectivity, plus great advertising opportunities.

Bravo. Nice Tweeting from him too – check it out here.