Dear PR People: If Your Exec Has A Comment, Our Comments Are Open

from the so-please-use-them dept

One of the points we've tried to make around here regularly is that this blog is not a traditional journalism effort. I am not a "reporter." I do not go out seeking stories to report on. I write about what I find interesting and I give my opinion on it -- and I do so in a way where I expect a discussion to happen in our comments from which we can all learn. I find that to be a lot better of an experience for everyone involved than to go out talking to a bunch of people behind closed doors and then writing up a "one true report" on the matter that probably leaves out half of the interesting stuff. Instead, I post what seems interesting and the comments are then very much a part of the story.

I've written many times before that we get more than enough stories sent to us by readers -- and I find plenty of interesting stories myself. I can't think of a single case where a PR person has turned me onto a PR story that I've cared about and hadn't already seen elsewhere. But PR people still fill my inbox daily with stories about all sorts of stuff we'd never write about, because they clearly don't read the site. They assume that any tech story is automatically relevant, so they spam me and probably 100 other sites. Perhaps some of them care and find the emails useful, though I doubt it.

In the last year or two, there's been a growing number of PR people who have moved on to a new tactic. Since actually getting press to cover the company you're representing is difficult, they now send around emails to writers about certain news stories, saying that so-and-so exec at such-and-such company, which has absolutely nothing to do with the story at hand, is "available for comment" on this story. So, for example, if two big companies announce a partnership, a PR person will send an email saying that some startup CEO in a market impacted by that partnership (barely), is "available for comment" about that partnership. It's basically a desperate PR person's attempt to get some press for a client where none is warranted.

Except, of course, we never quote people for posts here. We're not reporters. We're not looking for sources. We write about our opinions on stories and that's it. We'll quote another article, in order to comment on it, but we're not looking for sources at all. If you read Techdirt, you'd know that.

I recently put a message on Twitter about this, saying that, for all the PR people who had someone "available for comment" on stories, the comments on Techdirt are enabled and open for them to comment on any story they feel is relevant. It got a really good response on Twitter, so I figured I'd expand on it into a post. If you are a PR person, and you represent someone who has "a comment" on a particular story, please point them to the site where they are free to comment away, along with everyone else, as a part of a conversation, not some PR effort. And, please don't be offended if I just emailed you a link to this post in response to your offer to have some random exec "comment" on some unrelated story.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    ReallyEvilCanine, Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 10:09am

    Name & Shame

    Seriously, compile a list of these spammers so that others can see who's spamming and filter out the garbage before it ever has a chance to reach the inbox.

    If they're spamming you and don't realise that their PR crap isn't relevant then it's pretty foolish of you to waste the time and the space that this 564-word open letter required. Unless you're also announcing that you will indeed name these douchebags and display their headers so that the rest of us can block them.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 10:40am

    Wrong approach

    Usually PR people have budgets to work with. Maybe Mike shouldn't have written this post, and instead pointed them to the "Theme of the Week" idea.

    http://techdirt.com/rtb.php?tid=1200

    Or maybe Mike should make a "Theme of the Day" level. Either way, telling them to go away doesn't allow us to debate it, and secondly, sends people to more snarky sites such as MG Siegler's TechCrunch.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 10:50am

    Re: Wrong approach

    Yeah, MG Siegler, CEO of TechCrunch, is doing a good job of getting guest authors over there.

    I bet they have a larger audience also, besides MG Siegler and his VP Paul Carr need another bottle of scotch.

     

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  4.  
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    m3mnoch (profile), Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 11:29am

    Re: Wrong approach

    "MG Siegler's TechCrunch"

    now that's funny.

    m3mnoch.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Yakko Warner, Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 11:59am

    You want them to WHAT?!

    An Exec, come here and mingle with the commoners in the comments?!

     

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  6.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    Re: You want them to WHAT?!

    "An Exec, come here and mingle with the commoners in the comments?!"

    While I agree with your sentiments, I wouldn't define most of the commentors here as "common". Myself included....

     

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  7.  
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    SomeGuy (profile), Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Name & Shame

    Naming them gives them attention. It's more of a punishment to keep them unknown.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Kazi, Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re: You want them to WHAT?!

    Noone is common and everyone is common at the same time. It actually does make sense - especially since we all are unique.

     

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  9.  
    icon
    BullJustin (profile), Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: You want them to WHAT?!

    We're unique and special, just like everybody else.

     

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  10.  
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    drewmerc (profile), Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 12:36pm

    they get more respect for having the balls to risk commenting here

     

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  11.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 12:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: You want them to WHAT?!

    "We're unique and special, just like everybody else."

    Like snowflakes? Or orgasms?

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Philadelphia birth injury lawyer, Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 1:03pm

    That would be great to have an exec commenting on the boards with their name broadcast right next to it. How many times to do you think that it would be revised by their own PR department before it got cleared.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You want them to WHAT?!

    Like all of the dark helmets that rode the short bus to school.

     

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  14.  
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    Chard (profile), Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 1:38pm

    The real issue?

    The problem is surely a matter of control. If you go and ask them for comment on an issue they are the ones in control of the conversation and their word has weight, if they were to come to the comment and threads and voice their opinion there then they have surrendered that weight. No matter where the conversation is the opinion of so many executives will surely only be given following that consideration...

     

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  15.  
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    Sam Blackman, Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 2:04pm

    Well, maybe no.

    We prefer to lurk in the shadows and strike without sound.

     

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  16.  
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    ChadBroChill (profile), Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You want them to WHAT?!

    wow, that was un-warranted meanness.
    dooche

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 3:02pm

    The PR people want the same sort of time that you gave the original story, not a comment 50 names down a list. They aren't interested in fighting from a poorly created defensive position.

    Mike, perhaps you might want to "start a conversation" about their points as well, although I gather that their ideas and comments would go against the techdirt party line most of the time.

    I guess it's only a conversation when you can lead it where you want it to go, right?

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 3:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You want them to WHAT?!

    My unique and special feature is meanness. It was aimed at DH as a joke, not as meanness toward those that really need a special bus to get to school. Relax.

    -El Dooche

     

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  19.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 3:52pm

    Re:

    Mike, perhaps you might want to "start a conversation" about their points as well, although I gather that their ideas and comments would go against the techdirt party line most of the time.

    Heh. I think you have misread the post. It has nothing to do with the opinions on Techdirt. Most don't know that Techdirt is an opinion site at all. They don't read it. They just know that Techdirt is a popular "tech" blog, and so they have some startup client and they want to get him press, so when, say, Microsoft and Yahoo do a deal, they send an email about how "the CEO of blahblahlame.com is available to comment on the partnership" because they're hoping that I'm a lazy journalist who needs to fill column inches and will accept some bland stupid quote from someone, so that the PR people can go back to the company at the end of the month and include "Techdirt" as one of the press hits they got.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 4:10pm

    Re: Re:

    Ahh, so this is different from not allowing the other side to speak. Got it.

     

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  21.  
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    Derek Reed (profile), Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 4:14pm

    Re: The real issue?

    Not all comments carry the same weight. Mike's comments quite often drive the conversation a lot more than others. Part of that is the blue box, but not all of it. Were an "executive" to participate in a conversation, noting themselves as who they are and depending on their current level of visibility in the sector the article is relevant too, their comments may also drive the conversation more and increase their visibility/popularity.

    I can't think of a specific example, but I imagine there may be some good fits for articles to executives to weigh in on and gain some "street cred", even if its a dissenting opinion.

     

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  22.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 4:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You want them to WHAT?!

    Plus I thought it was funny, though I appreciate posters getting my helmety back ;)

     

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  23.  
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    Ed Kohler (profile), Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 4:29pm

    Mike, this is an excellent post that PR people and the people they represent should take very seriously. They're losing in the court of public opinion if they take conversations offline rather than responding with authentic, rational arguments to the points raised by reasonable bloggers like yourself.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 4:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You want them to WHAT?!

    'helmety back' - love it. At least one can shave a hairy back, but a turtlely back just is what it is. Bet you never have a bad hair day, DH.

     

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  25.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 23rd, 2009 @ 5:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: You want them to WHAT?!

    Well, not that you can see anyway ;)

     

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  26.  
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    Kyote (profile), Nov 30th, 2009 @ 6:58am

    Socrates style

    I'm rather new around here. I've only been coming here for a few months. The feeling I get about Techdirt is it's like back in Socrates's time in Greek history when they'd sit around and talk about.... well, anything of importance, or interest, to them.

    I enjoy most of the stories I've read here, and the comments give life to those stories.

    I believe that most exec's could do well by their company by visiting here and joining relevant discussions. It'd be like the wise king that dresses like everyone else and goes among the people to find out how they feel.

    Not that I'm saying anyone here is a 'commoner' or 'peasant' lmao. It's the feeling that Mike, Techdirt and people like DH bring to the 'Plaza' or table. Those people include everyone... well, except maybe the kids from the *aa's....

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    politics, Feb 10th, 2010 @ 4:18am

    The Current State of Unemployment in the United States

    Many Americans have been unemployed at some point during the course of the last few years. As a result of the recession, those that have not been unemployed, were on the cusp of becoming unemployed. Either way, the average American has been afraid of the mere possibility of becoming unemployed. Well, it is a new year in the day and age of politics in the United States of America. This new year in politics has afforded many opportunities in terms of job opportunities. A great deal of President Barack Obama's Recovery Act funding is now being released to help stimulate the economy. A large sum of the money has been allocated in order to take on a two-fold approach. The politics circuits have reported that in addition to the money being distributed in order to create jobs, the money will also serve the purpose of improving the quality of life that we, and generation to come, will have while living on earth. Additionally, these jobs that are created will also see to it that we gain more of the Independence that the country has fought so hard throughout its time in politics to get. So you will see a great deal of work going into the green movement, as well as the national development and refining of United State's solar, wind, and energy supplies. 1. Politics news reports state the nation's advances has caused the decline of employment to fall. There is so much promise that is shown in this regard that it is quite possible that there is going to be a boost in employment in the coming months. Many have said that they have seen there industries start to gain positive growth already. 2. Politics news stories say that there are also great data in the polls that express that there will be a positive jump in the nation's state of employment. Politics circuits say that many companies are going to largely expand over the course of the coming years. 3. Politics news circles state that this is one of the biggest boosts in the economy in the last few years. They say that there is evidence that shows the upward growth of the nation's employment. 4. Many politics reporters state that although the improvements are not enough to rapidly change the overall state of the nation's economy, many are going to reap the benefits of this growth pattern. Many in politics even say that we are not going to feel the effects of the growth of the nation in the coming years in its entirety, but we are certainly on our way there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    kevin (profile), Apr 18th, 2011 @ 1:43am

    Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would pelletizing production line you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me. Who can forget Soundgarden, another Seattle based grunge band with their alt hit “Black Hole Sun” or the Goo Goo Dolls with their hit song “Slide”.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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