For Media Relations, a Twitter Handle Doesn’t Cut It

Posted on October 4, 2011 
Filed Under General

I’ve had reason to reach out to all kinds of companies for business-to-business media outlets: cable operators and programmers, small and large high tech companies, advertising agencies, magazine media companies, video postproduction boutiques, automakers. The list goes on. The first step is always the same—find the name and contact information of a particular company’s public relations staffer.

And it’s a name, email address and phone number of an actual person that I seek. Not info@acmecorp.com or a Twitter handle. I’m constantly surprised that in an era of “listening” and two-way conversations and transparency that so many companies and nonprofit organizations choose not to reveal the names and direct contact information of their media relations person or team. Or, if they do reveal a name or names, it is buried deep within a Web site.

This is so common that I have to believe it’s not a mere oversight—it must be part of an overall strategy. For all the talk about letting the customers or audience be a part of a brand’s story, it appears that the need to control the story is just as strong as ever. The message to the media can be read as: Don’t call us, we’ll call you when we have something to announce.

Time is tight for all of us, and when media professionals can’t easily find a human to contact, they’ll move on to another company, which will ultimately get the coverage and attention everyone seeks.

So get your real name out there. There are people who want to talk to you.

—Steve Goldstein

 

 

Comments

  • Molly

    I found this post very interesting after listening to a guest speaking in my advanced advertising class today. The communication director of a local public school distract spoke to my class about advice for students going into public relations or marketing. The piece of advice that relates to this discussion was his experience with the media.

    The professional explained that he has everything set up for the media when they arrive at the school to get their shots and interviews. This particular school district gets more coverage than any of the other districts in our area because of this. He believes this is linked to his organization skills and easy access he provides to the media. He said he always keeps in mind that the media is on a deadline just like everyone else and you need to respect that.

    After all wouldn’t you want your district to be on the news in a good light. So, don’t let these news stories pass because you are not providing easy access.

  • http://www.EngageMediaCommunications.com Tony Arnold

    I was the national Media Relations Director for 6 years for one of the largest faith-based, non-profits in the world.

    My name, cell number & email was prominently plastered all over my online newsroom. I was the easiest person to find in an organization with 6000 employees in the USA and 26,000 globally.

    Sure I got occasional, distracting calls and emails. But, we got positive coverage on 4 of the top US TV networks plus top 3 national news magazines, many of the leading circulation newspapers and many more.

    I still say 141 million earned media impressions was due in large part to my visibility and my prompt response.

  • Patricia Gibney

    As a PR professional I have to say your point works both ways. I just finished a media pitching project where it was challenging to uncover reporters’ beats, e-mail addresses and phone numbers on the outlets’ websites. Many times PR people do actually contact reporters with important and timely information.

  • http://contentequalsmoney.com Emma

    I agree wholeheartedly. It’s really not enough to just be on social media. An active and engaging presence is the required counterpart to the existence of a twitter handle. If you build it, they will come… but that involves building, first.

  • http://alexanderandassociates.com Martin Johncox

    Very good points. The PR people should be front and center and easy to reach. This goes hand-in-hand, I believe, with the desire to automate as much interaction with the public as possible. They just don’t get it.

  • Steve Goldstein

    Patricia–I agree with you. Media outlets are companies too, and they also often lead you into a maze where you can’t figure out beats or find contact information.

  • http://www.alcatel-lucent.com/enterprise Tracy Dupree

    I tend to agree in most cases but will add that in my current position with a global telecommunications company having a generic email enables us to send the inquiry to the proper contact. There is a range of groups in our company and putting one name out as a contact would not suffice.

  • http://www.ianvisits.co.uk/blog/ IanVisits

    In my day job publication – we took all the individual details off the website and replaced them with “hunt group” email addresses.

    The reason – far too many PR people think that if sending a press release to one contact is good, then sending it to ten people at the same publication will be ten times better.

    We even state on the website which hunt-group address to use for press releases, and still we get releases sent to the info/help addresses as well.

    Yes, some PR people are sensible and wont do that – but they seem to be a weirdly small minority.

    Sorry, but as much as I *need* to work with PR, there is a point when the benefit to annoyance ratio is broken.

  • http://cbpr.ae/blog/ Reem Heather Dabbas

    Steve, one of my colleagues loved your article and wrote her take on what you have to say. I was wondering if you had a Twitter profile (because I won’t be able to meet you face to face) so that we can let you know when it’s posted and also to stay informed of future posts.

  • http://www.PublicityResults.com Michelle Tennant Nicholson

    Great information — I’ve been posting my 411 on client websites and all over online press kits that get Google Page 1 attention. I think publicists who hide their info simply don’t want after-hour calls. Problem is, that’s when my contacts at Oprah (now OWN), Anderson, Dr. Phil, WSJ and all those coveted venues call. They work all hours and if you’re a publicist who is scoring top tier, you work after hours too. I’ve been working after hours now for 20 years and you know what, I love it.

  • Steve Goldstein

    To Reem Heather Dabbas: My Twitter handle is #SGoldsteinAI and my email address is sgoldstein@accessintel.com.

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