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Changing things around with public relations at MIR

I’m usually at the end of the public relations process — on the coal face, as the phrase goes.

I regularly receive a heck of a lot of press releases and now and again, for the ones that I think are relevant, I — or one of the team — take the release and ‘write it up’.

This typically causes me no end of arse-ache. That’s because I’m not really that interested in churning ‘news’. I like walking down the street and discovering a new service and then writing about it; or popping into the 3 store and finding they’ve got something coming. Or sitting with a chap from Vodafone hearing their viewpoints on the marketplace. I like meeting people and listening to them explain what they’re doing, what problems they’re solving, what their hopes are for the industry and what kind of customers they’re looking for. If you’re doing something in mobile, chances are, I’m really, really interested — and I probably want to write about it.

‘Write about it’ — I like documenting things. I like getting stuff up and out there. It’s very cathartic, having been an entrepreneur struggling to get coverage, being able to shed light on smart stuff. Sometimes a rather mundane announcement from a company might get next to no views when I publish it. But give it two or three weeks; or a few months even, and the post will have a ton of traffic. I’ll get emails about it. It’ll be well entrenched in Google, thanks to the way they archive this site. That’s valuable to everyone.

My challenge with press releases is that, more and more, instead of receiving a sanitised overview ‘fantastical’ announcement, I think I’d much rather get an email from the chap or lady in charge of the project, product or the like.

MIR is at its most valuable when it’s helping deliver knowledge, perspective and business networking to its readers. More and more increasingly, I think it might be far more relevant and interesting to hear from the executives who’re actually running the companies. I’ve no issue with public relations talent. I think there’s a huge need for those skills. But I’m feeling that, unless you’re T-Mobile announcing the G1 (in which case I want a full run-down of specifications and background), the traditional release isn’t required for Mobile Industry Review.

I emailed a few people in the industry and did a call for comments on Android recently. The direct feedback from the executives (with, perhaps, a few chops or changes from their PR), was — is — really good.

I therefore would encourage anyone who has something to say about what they’re doing in the mobile industry to write to me with news that I can quote. I’d like to try it out and see how you all react.

So, for example, if you met the Marketing Director of LG Mobile at a networking event and asked him what’s up, or what’s new — he’d be telling you about the successor to the Viewty (we’re seeing that tonight) or he’d be telling you about their successes with currently available models. Or winning a new deal with a mobile operator.

I think I’d much rather hear it from him in a missive — a few lines, or a few paragraphs — than the sanitised announcement with an insert-quote from the guy that he most probably didn’t ever speak.

For the enterprising public relations chaps and ladies reading, if time permits, can we try this out? The next announcement you’ve got going on, ask your executive to write me a note about what’s happening. As though he or she was standing in front of me at a networking evening. Make it a few paragraphs at least.

One of the chief frustrations I have with releases is that they’re intended to be churned. That is, cut/paste/quoted in the media. If you can get the journalist (or blogger) to quote verbatim, *brilliant*. Well I’d like to offer the ability for you to sidestep the ‘if’. We’ll quote you verbatim. The MIR audience is smart enough to discern superlatives. There still needs to be editorial control. That is, we won’t guarantee to publish everything. Check with me first to make sure that the subject is one that we think will be relevant.

Maybe it won’t work. I’m in two minds. I think it could be really interesting to read an update from, say, Nick Ris over at MX Telecom. Or a viewpoint from an investor. Or an update from Scott at Mippin.

“Dear Ewan and the MIR readers, I’d like to tell you about our latest product. It’s..”

It could work. It could be really useful.

Does anyone fancy giving it a go?

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

17 replies on “Changing things around with public relations at MIR”

I think you've got that spot-on, Ewan. As a PR myself it's great for me when people take my copy and just use it. But I have to confess it slightly depresses the former journalist in me, because it's lazy and I was taught to question everything and write it my own way. Your new approach will make for much better content than standard 'churn' and the PRs should embrace it.

Ewan, I agree with Mark. Press releases have their place for mass distribution of news, but the best articles for you (and coverage for my clients) comes with a personal note or interview that is specific to MIR.

You'd still be repeating a prepapared statement, even if it 'feels' a little more normal. Unless you get the person on the phone and ask them *your* question (not sent in advance) it's another form of PR, not reporting or analysis. No wonder the PRs like it — a new format to massage the message.

There's absolutely nothing different — ultimately — from me asking a
question not sent in advance. What's stopping the person I'm speaking to
'spinning me' in real time? Absolutely nothing.

I'd like to report their message. Then give some viewpoint.

2008/9/26 Disqus <>

Re: Sending questions in advance — can't imagine Paxo sending a list of questions over to his interviewees ahead of time. If you can think on your feet then, good luck to you. If you parse a reply through the PR, well then you get PR.

We are most definitely not Paxo nor are we modeling ourselves on Paxo!

I don't have a problem getting PR. Now and again we've published press
releases verbatim when judged appropriate.

2008/9/26 Disqus <>

There's absolutely nothing different — ultimately — from me asking a
question not sent in advance. What's stopping the person I'm speaking to
'spinning me' in real time? Absolutely nothing.

I'd like to report their message. Then give some viewpoint.

2008/9/26 Disqus <>

Re: Sending questions in advance — can't imagine Paxo sending a list of questions over to his interviewees ahead of time. If you can think on your feet then, good luck to you. If you parse a reply through the PR, well then you get PR.

We are most definitely not Paxo nor are we modeling ourselves on Paxo!

I don't have a problem getting PR. Now and again we've published press
releases verbatim when judged appropriate.

2008/9/26 Disqus <>

You'd still be repeating a prepapared statement, even if it 'feels' a little more normal. Unless you get the person on the phone and ask them *your* question (not sent in advance) it's another form of PR, not reporting or analysis. No wonder the PRs like it — a new format to massage the message.

There's absolutely nothing different — ultimately — from me asking a
question not sent in advance. What's stopping the person I'm speaking to
'spinning me' in real time? Absolutely nothing.

I'd like to report their message. Then give some viewpoint.

2008/9/26 Disqus <>

Re: Sending questions in advance — can't imagine Paxo sending a list of questions over to his interviewees ahead of time. If you can think on your feet then, good luck to you. If you parse a reply through the PR, well then you get PR.

We are most definitely not Paxo nor are we modeling ourselves on Paxo!

I don't have a problem getting PR. Now and again we've published press
releases verbatim when judged appropriate.

2008/9/26 Disqus <>

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