Social Media Top Five: Journalist POV, Incivility, and PR Agencies Really Doing Social Media?

Press Releases From a Journalist’s POV
Daryl James, a former newspaper professional, lays out some very simple tips on what should go into a news release to get an editor’s or reporter’s attention. Some of them are beyond common sense, but always worth repeating. Setting aside the fact that the fixation on the news release itself is problematic, there are some great tips. I summarize below, with my own notes in parentheses:

  1. Just the facts. (Daryl brings up the idea of putting the important information in bullets rather than writing a narrative release; something I have been in favor of for a decade, and one of the important features of the Social Media Press Release template put together by my boss at SHIFT Communications, Todd Defren)
  2. It’s not about you. (In other words, don’t pitch the news, pitch the story that will actually get written.)
  3. Don’t make me work. (No attachments, hard-to-find resources, etc)
  4. Don’t lie. (You will be found out. Period.)
  5. Know your audience. (A basic for anyone involved in any form of communications)

Sick of incivility? TechCrunch, which has an obvious bias in this story, takes potshots at the DEMO conference and departing organizer Chris Shipley. TechCrunch, of course, organizes the fiercely competitive- and opposed- TechCrunch 50, which isn’t mentioned in the piece. Well, if you follow both you know what’s going on, and it has been clear for a long time that it pays to pay attention when it comes to TechCrunch, or it’s easy to get lost when trying to sort out the behind-the-scenes editorial process (and drama). Over at Media Bullseye (for which I write a monthly column), Chip Griffin opens fire on the whole “uncivil” war, which begs the question; should we just stop trying to expect old-fashioned journalistic standards from the more formidable “blogs” and just learn to expect yellow journalism, back-biting, and omissions of convenience? Chip won’t stand for it; I say, I think we’re already at where these publications are headed. Of course, I’m in the position of not needing to take a side here.

PR Rep for Octuplets’ Mother Get Death Threats Just as there is no boundary, apparently, for who should hire PR representation, there is no reason at all to take on a client that would get you death threats. Right? I suppose there are exceptions but this is far from one of them.

Talking About Yourself Egomaniacs have no problem talking about themselves. Others, though we know it’s often necessary, have a problem with doing it. Chris Brogan lays it out nicely; in taking about yourself, make it about others. It’s just a social media take on getting by giving, but after a couple of reads I got what he was saying.

PR Agencies and Social Media– Eating the Dogfood? First off, I read Jennifer Leggio’s long-awaited ZDNet report on survey results on public relations agencies and social media. Yes, I was gratified that my employer was mentioned positively as an agency that understands social media- after all, that’s a big reason I work at SHIFT. But also, there are some great takeaways- best of all, pooh-poohing the notion that social media is a “premium” service that needs to be separated from the rest of PR, and several reminders that “traditional” PR competency is still important.

Next, there was a blog post by Cece Salomon-Lee attempting to chart 100 independent PR agencies by how they use social media. It was a great idea, hamstrung by her insistence on corporate presences at the exclusion of individuals doing social media on behalf of their agencies (in part, like me and many others, or in whole). The mix of personal and professional brands is very important to me, and while we don;t necessarily advise clients to do things the same way, it’s something I feel strongly about. I wasn’t the only one to mention this, or the first, and Cece replied in a very open way– creating a wiki for agencies to contribute and speak for themselves. Very cool.

Blog readers: I am riding the Pan-Mass Challenge this summer, a 2-day bicycle trek across Massachusetts to raise money for the Jimmy Fund in support of cancer research. Will you join the generous folks who have sponsored my ride? Click any part of this message to go to my fundraising page– and thank you!


  1. Hi Doug, I want to highlight why I believe corporate presence is just as important as individual voices. In my comment reply to Ryan, my perspective is the different types of conversation I want to have – one with a corporate entity, another with an individual from that corporate entity.

    Why? Becuase what happens when the individual leaves the corporation? The corporate entity may not be equipped to continue the conversation that the individual may have started with customers, prospects and other key audiences. Furthermore, I expect different information from a corporate brand vs the individual.

    I think there is legitimate reason to advocate for both if it fits a company’s strategic objective. In the end, it’s knowing what your audience is seeking from you.


  2. Cece, I get the distinction. I didn’t want to belabor the point about including the personal rep’s, but did want to note it here if only for my own benefit.

    While SHIFT doesn’t have an official SHIFT corporate account on Twitter 9 for example), we don;t steer clients away from doing that. It really depends on what works and what is comfortable. For us, Todd Defren ( is well-known as one of the principles, and can speak for the company authoritatively in addition to his personal Tweets.I follow a similar pattern (tho I am not a principle at the agency).

    The important thing for a “Corporate account” is to remember to add the human element to the stream. So yes, I think the use of “personal” or beside-the-point comments still applies here, the better to relate and converse with people.

  3. Indeed, there’s no reason to take on a client that would bring on death threats. But perhaps more importantly, no client should bring on death threats. That is, there’s no excuse for threatening death upon someone for providing public relations representation.

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