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.