All of the Chris Andersen “long-tail lashing posts” about banned evil PR spammers prompted several requests for my opinion. Rather than rehash old news, I’d like to refer you to Shel Holtz (who I agree with on this one), as well as Federal Computer Week’s Chris Dorobek, who gives another editor’s view of Andersen’s actions.
Instead, I’ll write about a bad reporter, something we PR bloggers rarely do. Why? Because this week (or really, this decade) it’s too easy to bash on PR people. And also because reporters and bloggers are not infallible. But they have the power. Thus, it’s always easier to bash a PR pro than it is to take a reporter to task.
Said reporter will not be named (although he is not reporting anymore) as we don’t like to out people on this blog. For our story’s purpose, the reporter’s name is Joe Pravus.
Local Washington PR types found Joe Pravus to be a particularly difficult and ornery reporter. Because he mastered one of the local beats, Pravus was originally thought to be unavoidable. He clearly hated PR people, and did things like:
- Break embargoes
- Demand exclusives, or else he would refuse to report on companies
- Would hang up the phone and call client CEOs directly, telling them he would only speak with them and not to include PR people or corporate marketing types
- Demand that press release dates be changed to meet his needs regardless of exclusivity
Not to mention, Pravus was real nasty. You winced when necessity dictated a phone call to him.
His multiple year reign at his un-named publication saw its decline in his beat. Why? Because a significant minority of PR pros in town — usually the more experienced ones — blackballed Pravus and stopped giving him their stories. This was universal, from in-house counselors at major government contractors to start-ups and PR agencies (present company included).
It wasn’t worth it. Why bother with the pain? If you had a real story you could give it to one of Pravus’s competitors. Over time, people started giving them more weight anyway. Any PR pro worth their salt has relationships with multiple venues.
And my clients who had dealt with Pravus agreed. They, too, were extremely annoyed by the demands, the out-proportioned view of his publication’s role in the larger metro and national scheme of media outlets, and Pravus’s refusal to follow any traditional PR path whatsoever.
It became a pleasure not giving Pravus stories. And so Pravus, who used the power of the pen in the short-term, lost his power in the long term.
The moral of this story: Regardless of which side of the table you sit on — PR pro, blogger or journalist – if you treat people badly sooner or later they balk. That’s my “long tail” for the day.
P.S. Joe Pravus eventually quit his job to become a PR pro. I would pay money to see how journalists treat his heavy-handed demanding approaches these days.