Fergus Cassidy has a great piece on how the canvassers do way more than put a leaflet in your door. I must say most of this was new to me but it makes complete sense. Well worth reading. Look forward to part 2.
Jemima Kiss from the Guardian has gotten back to me about the attack piece on me in her Organ Grinder Column. She has now rectified (at the end of her piece) the misrepresentation that I said “fuck off” to content labels. I also asked that the piece link to what I actually stated, since she linked to a blog post where Paul Walsh argued against what I said. It would only seem right in terms of balance. Glad that has happened. Apparently this could have been resolved sooner had it not been for Jemima being away from the office and apparently because of my agressive attitude to this. Glad this is sorted.
I guess everyone is in a rush sometimes but it is sad that someone doesn’t check their facts. Though since her piece where she quotes Paul quoting me was the 6th Organ Grinder in the past few months where she quoted him, she obviously considers him beyond error. But one must always double-check sources, right?
Oops. Crowded House went on stage a few hours before Rage Against the Machine for their own reunion concert. The crowd were not at all happy.
And … nothing. By this point we were far back into the crowd, and you had to be there to appreciate just how thunderous this silence was.
PrezVid points out how the French do TV debates. Pity the guys can’t do it here.
Google has about 900 millionaires. Microsoft has so far made 12,000.
I finally finish with IrelandOffline on June 9th. Replacements wanted. (Not as if I can take a rest then. 3 new Mulley projects on the way around same time.)
Last year Richard Delevan sent an email with the subject
I’m gonna hunt down and kill…
and it continued in the body of the email:
… the next PR person who rings me to ask, ‘did you get the release I sent last week?’
However, there are plenty of other ways to actually get into my Business section and not have the phone put down on you.
I sent a few questions to various journalists in print, web and radio about being pitched and being contacted about doing stories on whatever issues. The clearest message from them all is they are sick to death of PR companies ringing and asking did they get their emails. However, they have all give excellent tips too. Due to them being quite frank, many asked not to be named. I’m quite surprised by the number of startups and other small companies that do not contact journalists or work with the press. The same goes for voluntary organisations and educational groups. Journalists are crying out for stories and want more than the usual releases from PR companies. If you have something interesting to say, a journalist will listen.
Here are some of the main points I’ve collated but the full commentary of most of the journalists is also included.
- An email is better but if you have a fresh angle to the press release you send, then ring.
- Chatting on the phone is better, if you both have time and you are not repeating the press release.
- Know your journalist. Know what they cover and do not cover. Have them know you. Do a bit of networking with them.
- Know the new cycles of the daily papers, the Sundays and the radio stations.
- Yes, they got the email.
- Photos are good.
- Consider exclusives if what you have is interesting.
- Tell the journalist in advance about being off record, not afterwards.
Email is preferable whether it’s a story tip, intro to company or press release. I’m not too hung up on people having professional press releases but if they are contacting multiple media outlets it’s probably more efficient for them to do it that way. I don’t really have a problem with people following up with a call as long as they have something to say. (see this post for my thoughts on this)
As Eoin Kennedy says in the comments there (he’s a PR exec with Slatterys, the agency for Microsoft) call with a new angle on the release, some extra information, or the offer of an interview but not just to check I got it or if I’m doing anything with it. It’s also essential to know what the journalist writes about and I don’t mean just knowing they are a technology writer. Try and get some feel for the kind of areas that interest them e.g. I seem to have acquired a reputation as being the Web 2.0 guy locally and to be fair I am interested in hearing about stories in that area.
Also be aware that journalists have lots of different deadlines and get shed-loads of phone calls pitching stuff. Be sure to start every call to them by checking if it’s a good time to talk. I wouldn’t expect someone in a tech company to give me their time on the day they are shipping a major new product.
Exclusives are a big and potentially thorny issue. I will generally not just write up a press release unless it’s a major news story from a major company. Even then I will follow up with a call. But if it’s a small company with an interesting story I will generally ask that they give it to me first i.e. they can release it to the rest of the media after my story has appeared. That might run contrary to the openness of the blogging world but the bottom line is my editor wants stories that haven’t appeared elsewhere and as a freelance that’s what I have to come up with. I would advise people to consider all media outlets, especially in the early days when they aren’t well known.
One editor had this to say:
I generally prefer it if people email me first and then follow up with a phone call. Or sometimes just ring up and shoot the breeze, tell the editor what’s on your mind or if there’s something coming up. At least 50pc of the time it triggers a chain reaction. I really believe that there needs to be more contact between people in media and business and the phrase “it’s good to talk” is very, very true. Often the real story is hidden and by talking, opportunities present themselves sometimes in a very unexpected way.
Technology companies appoint PR companies to manage their relationship with the media but there’s very little managing needed except to forge working relationships with editors and writers, read the products and intelligently target and pitch a potential story, be it an interview, news story or feature story. Sometimes what begins as a run of the mill announcement, if discussed and considered could be the spark for a cover story. But people need to talk. Every day should be a learning experience for an editor.
He went on:
Another problem – nobody pitches anymore which is a damned shame. People need to talk, and if you want to convince an editor to pay attention to a story you’ve got to have conviction. Believe in your cause or explain why an issue is worth considering.
Editors are wary of being used as a conduit for a business trying to market products. It may be the case that there’s a better story in there somewhere that would do justice on a number of levels – it’s a good read, it hits on important issues, there are interesting people with interesting things to say – but the “did you get the press release” refrain is a cancer at the moment.
A Sunday Newspaper journalist gave this advice:
Email is always best – as long as it’s not too long – as it allows the journalist to quickly skim the content to see if it’s worth following up. Contact phone nos/email should also be included as well as some background on who exactly the source is. The more trustworthy/respected the source, the better the story!
An Irish news editor with print and online experience, had this to say:
The answer to your question is subjective, because of course it depends what you want to tell the journalist. In saying that though, if you think you know something “of value” as you say, then YOU DO, and don’t be afraid of contacting a journalist. At the end of the day, although reporters can seem a bit grumpy sometimes — they do take hundreds of calls and e-mails every day — they do rely and depend on people telling them what’s going on.
If it’s ‘the President’s been shot’ then just call them up immediately. If it’s ‘my scout troop is going camping’ then perhaps an e-mail is best. In terms of e-mails, reporters like to be the First to receive new information because it gives them time to digest it and analyse it before publishing their account. In this respect it’s important to know when the news organ will go to print when you contact a reporter. Hard news is no good to a Sunday paper reporter on a Monday because it probably won’t still be newsworthy by Saturday night. Then again, if it’s soft news, eg ‘my company is doing really well at the moment’, then Monday is perfect because on a busy Friday news day that info will be binned.
I use the example of a Sunday paper because it is a good example of understanding a print cycle. Whatever the publication, whether it’s a monthly magazine or instant newswire, it’s important to work out the print cycle to make an educated guess at when is the best time to contact a reporter.
Drafting an e-mail press release AND HAVING PICTURES may make it more likely that a media organ will publish your information, but there’s nothing wrong with a phone call too. However, there is nothing more irritating than taking a call after receipt of a press release when the caller simply regurgitates info they’ve already submitted in another format.
If you want a conversation to be ‘off the record’ – a much maligned phrase – then you have to tell the journalist before the conversation NOT AFTERWARDS. If the journalist needs attribution for quotes, he or she will usually negotiate with the caller about the source of the comments, eg company insider, Garda sources, industry veteran etc etc.
In terms of emails, if you want to write in confidence, you must include your name and telephone number. We receive loads of anonymous emails these days; some legitimate, some are hoaxes, but unless you include details for verification there’s little point in bothering to hit the send button.
A freelance journalist had this to say:
I think it all depends on what you are pitching.
If it’s a new product or service, the best thing to do is just to send a press release. There are provisoes, though. Work out who the most relevant journalist is in the publication/station concerned. Send to the wrong person and it could just be deleted. Also the press release needs to be clear and concise. Otherwise, chances are it’s heading to the bin.
You could follow this up with a phone call but don’t just ring up to ask “did you get my press release”. They did and it didn’t excite them enough to call you about it. Remind them of it and then suggest an angle or a hook for an article about your widget.
On the other hand, if you want to get in touch with a story that you think should be written (not that you have a new Head of Widgets, an actual story ie whistleblowing, scandal, whatever), then I think phoning is probably better as you can discuss it with the journalist. Again, try and work out ahead of time who the best person is to talk to.
Either way, someone pitching an idea should be clear before they email/call why this idea is different, new, original, interesting, important or suitable for that publication/station.
Mark Tighe from the Sunday Times said:
It really depends on the story being pitched. Sometimes I see things being press released by small organisations that would be better off being targeted to one journalist. Depends on the story of course but from my (biased of course) view of working for a Sunday, I think too much is wasted in the daily papers when a Sunday could give it more time and space if it’s deserving. If it is something that suits a press release then be aware about the timing. (We get a lot of people asking can we do something on a report or launch taking place on a Wednesday. More often than not it will be old news by the time we go to print.)
If it’s a tip off, an observation or whistleblowing, whatever medium the person feels comfortable should be used. Email has its advantages in that the person can remain anonymous if they want while the format allows them to put across a lot of information.
Journalists are slaves to deadlines so that should be borne in mind depending on who you approach. Also, people should study the media they approach to evaluate whether they are the right organisation or journalist to tackle their story. Personally I’m always glad to get calls and emails from people about stories. Often they won’t turn into a story but it always pays off to listen to what people have to say.
Mark is happy for people to email him on Mark.Tighe ( at ) sunday-times.ie or to call him on 01 4792449 if you have a scoop. 🙂
Got an email this morning from a PR crowd.
The Irish Venture Capital Association in conjunction with the Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship is holding a one and a half day course on â€œHow to Raise Venture Capitalâ€?. The event takes place at the Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship at Citywest Business Campus, Dublin on 24th and 25th May.
The course is aimed at entrepreneurs in new or existing companies. It provides an inside track from the venture capitalists themselves on what they look for in a business, the investment process as well as how to manage exit strategies. It will provide networking opportunities with venture capitalists and entrepreneurs who have been through the fund raising experience.
The cost of the course is €850 and includes all course materials, lunch, evening dinner and accommodation at Citywest Hotel on the night of the 24th May.
Maybe that’s value for money but I’d be running a free event to get as many interested parties as possible. Though I’m not a VC, am I, so maybe I’m not seeing the bigger picture. Let people pay for the dinner and meal and lunch themselves, if needs be. First time I heard of the IVCA too. Looking at their members list, am I right in thinking Trinity are the only ones to go to events such as BarCamp?
We’ll all be getting visits from various campaigners over the next few days and weeks. To help you out with this, here are the expenses claimed by all your sitting TDs for 2005 and if any Senators call, here is the list for them.
Here are some suggested questions to ask from various bloggers or maybe you can use this list from the EastMeath blog or maybe any of the ones directed to Batt O’Keeffe. Conor O’Neill has some good ones in relation to the TB outbreak in Cork.
You can also see the policies of political parties in relation to equality rights here.
Don’t forget to have a look at websites such as IrishElection.com, Politics.ie and Irish Politics aggregator Politics In Ireland and if you want to see all the videos from all the campaigns, then stop by VoteTube.org.
And don’t forget about the doorstep challenge.
So there’s some fuss about a live TV debate between the party leaders and whether it’ll be on RTE and TV3 or just one or both. I can’t see a reason why this can’t happen in each constituency and done by locals and stuck up on Google Video.
Seems a PR company in Ireland is offering their services to companies looking for BES funding, for a cut.
Simpson Financial & Technology PR has launched a new service to help early stage technology companies raise profile in advance of a BES or venture capital funding round. The announcement follows the move by the Government to increase BES limits per company to €2m and individual personal limits to €150,000.
Pity their blog is so out of date.
Speaking of which, the Digiweb blog doesn’t seem to allow comments.
Maddox on stock photos. Ahhh Maddox.
France 2 caught making up shit about Sarkozy. Like that was needed!
The original sentence of Sarkozy was “I invite all the French to join forces with me” the translator wrote “to rally my inflated ego
And now an IRC channel for the 2007 Election. Gopher to follow.
I sent SeÃ¡n O’Sullivan from mySay.com a few questions by email as part of the piece I did in the Sunday Tribune on how it is people who bring the personal and trivial who are the new terraformers when it comes to technology. While before it was businesses trying out new technologies, now it is the ordinary citizen. Unfortunately, I was on a strict deadline so did not manage to get the below into the article but I still think the information here is quite interesting. Here are the questions I asked by email and the replies:
1. So what is mySay all about?
mySay lets you keep in touch with your groups of friends over the phone. You call, you can listen to their updates, and you can also drop them an update. You can decide who you want to listen to by registering and inviting your friends on the web. Once you friends are in, you can all keep in touch, hearing each other’s updates and stories, jokes, whatever, on the phone, on the web, or through mySay widget on your blog or desktop. It’s social communication, using your phone, with no need to download any software – just use your voice!
2. People are giving out that a lot of these services are vanity or ego services. Ways of allowing people to disclose too much information about themselves. What would you say to that? How old is mySay? How many users?
Many of these services are indeed “vanity” or “ego” based. However, one of the most powerful aspects for (for example) flickr, is the interesting social effect of having information be “open”. With flickr for example, it’s possible to search for “st patricks day 2007”, and to see photos from all over the world, from people you’ve never met, about an event of interest. This has a value beyond the simple value of storing photos on the web – it becomes a social documentary (via pictures) of something of interest. Blogs do something similar – while there is much ranting and self-listening via blogs, the outpouring of commentary that occurs around an event, whether trivial (Britney’s hair) or serious (Virginia Tech) is stimulating, varied, and compelling in a way that’s different to other current forms of media.
As for the specifics on enabling people to give out too much information about themselves:
- there’s always the option to make the information private (e.g. mySay lets you have a private page, so that only people you invite can listen).
- if stuff is public, but you don’t want to listen – eh, don’t. If blogs, or twtter streams annoy you, maybe you shouldn’t subscribe or look at them?
- control over privacy / amount-of-sharing is a critical element to get right in services like these.
mySay was launched to the public one week ago. There are a few hundred people signed up since we opened the doors.
3. How does a service like this recoup their revenue?
Well, like many of these services, it’s free to users. The business model flows from two areas: there will be an opportunity to generate some ad based revenue from the site and potentially in-call as we gain users and traffic, and secondly, we think there’s a great opportunity for sponsored content. For example, if I’m a listener to (say) the SF49’ers snippets, I might choose to opt-in to hear occasional offers directly related to the 49ers (tickets, merchandise). Or think of it a different way, a music festival (like Oxygen here in Ireland) might create a profile in the service, and people could sign up as listeners to hear updates, band samples and promotions about the upcoming festival. What if iTunes wanted a profile – listeners could add iTunes as a friend and then when they dial in to mySay, they hear a snippet of the latest music that matches their interests. And so on. There are a lot of potential commercial angles, but right now we’re focused on building a great user experience and ensuring it’s something people want to use and tell their friends about.
4. What’s next for mySay?
In the near term, we’re engaging with the users to ensure that we understand what they like, and what they’d like to see us add to the service. We’re adding support for some new countries right now, and we’re working on some easy-to-use and easy-to-integrate widgets for your desktop and blog/social network pages. The new widgets all work using the new mySay API, which we’ll also release in to the wild when we’ve tested it with a few partners. This is key to enabling an “ecosystem” around the service. With these kinds of services, the users really tell you what’s important, so it’s key to enable them to do what they want.
5. Answer a question I should have asked you.
Q. Give us a typical usage scenario for mySay?
A. Look at me. I phone it. When I do, I hear my new stuff: Joe (friend of mine) is ranting about Vista. Shona (girlfriend) is travelling right now, and is hamming it up ‘cos it’s sunny where she it, and it’s raining here (Ireland). Ross (colleague) is looking for recommendations for somewhere to stay in Oz. Keith is hungover. That’s the new stuff. Now I dial zero and say “Fame has arrived – I’m being interviewed for the Sunday Tribune! – will pass on the link when it’s up on the web!”. And hang up. Now – anyone of my listeners who calls mySay will hear my update. And Joe (for example) sitting at his desk at work is going to see his little mySay widget shake, and my photo’s going to appear with my little snippet.
Other scenarios emerging:
– Power Bloggers
– Families where the members are spread around the world – they can all leave updates and check in with each other is a casual way
Government to also charge disabled people for being disabled. As well as charging pensioners for their stay in nursing homes, it seems the Government will now charge disabled people in care and take the money from their weekly supplement.
It now appears that the department of health (which has historically dropped the ball on supports for those with disabilities) is planning to implement the same regime of charges for those with disabilities as for the pensioners in residential care. Which means they will charge disabled people for living in residential settings. And charge them out of their disabled person’s maintenance allowance.
See? Twitter can make money. Kind of. Selling t-shirts? Please.
Fucking brilliant. Firefox extension to uncensor starred out w*rds.
The start of the Data Bill of rights.
We can identify and review the data that companies have about us. A sticky issue is whether we can also identify and review data that is made about us based on other data the company might have. (IE, based on your behavior, we at Amazon know you might also like….)
Via Loic, subtitle any video using a wiki type collaboration model.
Feist – 1,2,3,4