I was recently interviewed by inVocus, a “media center that provides news researched and written by the Media Research Team of Vocus, parent of PRWeb and HARO. It is the mission of inVocus to chronicle major changes and trends in North American media,” so explains their website. I subscribe to VOCUS and use the system for research, news release distribution and the like.
Anyway, the topic of the interview was a look at FACEBOOK as a tool for reaching out to journalists. According to the story (which you can access here: http://www.vocus.com/invocus/media-blog/reporters-and-pr-pros-divided-on-journalists-on-facebook-initiative/), FACEBOOK has just launched a page, “Journalists on Facebook,” which I instantly “LIKED,” btw. More on that in a moment. The story served to explore whether FACEBOOK is a viable tool for bringing journalists and PR people together.
The gist of the anti-FACEBOOK argument is that (1) there are other options already in use like Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr and (2) FACEBOOK is more personal, more gossipy, not in its heart-of-hearts a business tool.
I weighed in on the pro-FACEBOOK side which explains why I “LIKED” their new “Journalists” page as soon as I heard about it.
The way I look at it is this. If you’re in a war, you want as many weapons as possible. And as many kinds of weapons as possible. You never know when that double-barreled bazooka with laser scope might come in handy.
With the number of people studying public relations and seeking jobs in our field growing exponentially (while it seems the number of professionals journalists is dwindling), the competition to reach the remaining media in our current topsy-turvy-social-media-making-a-mess-of-everything-we’re-all-used-to world is greater than ever. So if there’s a tool that has even the slightest potential for helping me reach media, create new connections, expand my network (and as we know, in PR, it’s all about the NETWORKING), I say, use it.
As for those who say, no, FACEBOOK is too personal, too many posts and pictures of people’s bar mitzvahs and summer vacations, I argue that having that personal element is actually a GOOD THING.
Think about it. As I’ve often told my Loyola PR class, you’re a lot more likely to get a response from a reporter, producer or other journalist if you’re more than just a disembodied voice on a phone, a nondescript email among a sea emails, or heaven forbid, a FAX, stuck in a pile of faxes about “free trips to the islands” and “reduced mortgage rates.”
I encourage my students to go out and MEET the media. Put a face to a name. Shake a few hands. It’s a form of campaigning when you think of it. I, the PR guy, want you, the media’s VOTE to do my story, to cover my client! And it’s a lot harder to say NO when you’ve actually met a person—they’re a HUMAN BEING now.
And that’s good advice, and works well when it comes to local and regional media. It’s not tough to hop in the car and drive around to the local TV and radio stations that are in your area to say howdy. However, it’s another thing to try and pull that off with media who are strewn all over the country if not the globe.
But along comes FACEBOOK! With FACEBOOK, you can make a personal connection, show yourself to be a human being, a personality, not just a PR robot-in-a-suit. And if you’re interesting, you never know what aspect of yourself and your life might connect with a reporter. Could be a journalist is an avid fencer…guess what, I FENCE! So maybe if I’m pitching something, posting something on my wall about my client that’s of interest, perhaps that reporter might pick up on it…versus a similar posting by someone who is a NON-fencer, all things being equal.
Again, as I tell my students, PR is so much a matter of PSYCHOLOGY—human or social psychology. I tell them, be an information broker, learn as many things as you can, know about as many industries as you can, make yourself as INTERESTING AS POSSIBLE as you never know to whom this may lead. It’s yet another way to garner the attention of the media folks you seek.
Of course, this means NOTHING if you can’t deliver. The most important thing still comes down to PR 101—don’t lie, don’t pitch a story if you don’t have the people and information to back it up, be accessible (and, of course, FACEBOOK is yet another avenue of accessibility), promise less and deliver MORE.
And so it goes…