New PR Trend: Anti-Gaming TechMeme?

I’ve noticed that PR types are getting very astute with dealing with bloggers lately and getting their wares discussed on TechMeme.

First they’ll call Mike Arrington of TechCrunch. Make sure he’s briefed first (Mike doesn’t like to talk about news that someone else broke first, so they’ll make sure he is always in the first group to get to share something with you all). Then they’ll brief “second-tier” bloggers like me, Om, Dan Farber, Read/Write Web, and a variety of others. Embargo us all so we can’t publish before Mike does. Then they’ll have a party the night of the launch where they’ll get everyone else to come — if they get even a few bloggers to talk about the new thing then it’ll hit TechMeme by midnight.

I usually ignore the PR at this stage of the game. My business doesn’t rely on being first like TechCrunch requires. My most popular video lately was one with Six Apart which didn’t have ANY news. People just like to hear smart people at smart companies discuss where they are going.

But lately I’ve seen a new PR trend. One where companies don’t show their cool stuff to the A-list bloggers in expectation for coverage. Kyte.tv was a good example of this. They just turned on new features last week and let the bloggers discover it organically (when I saw the new features I knew I had to go over and get the scoop).

This didn’t get Kyte onto TechCrunch or TechMeme. But I think it is an interesting stratagy — one of “don’t talk, do.”

On the other hand, I agree with Dave Winer that what Loic Le Meur is doing with Seesmic is brilliant. Loic joins us every evening on Twitter. Hands out invite codes to whoever asks nicely. Then watches our first videos, and puts the best stuff into an edited video.

Loic is playing a PR game at a level that I’ve not seen in these parts.

Here’s a fun game: what is PodTech trying to keep off of TechMeme? Hmmm! :-)

Oh, don’t believe that PR is getting astute about getting lots of bloggers to talk? Yesterday I was emailed dozens of press releases. Almost all of which have been discussed by bloggers on my link blog today.

28 thoughts on “New PR Trend: Anti-Gaming TechMeme?

  1. It’s actually worse than that in one sense. Techmeme decides which way it wants to order and aggregate stories. I’ve seen plenty of occasions where stories originated at one place but were 2nd or 3rd ranked at TechMeme in favor of a so-called A-lister.

    The PRs are the smart ones here. They know who will print what and go after them. TC is a no-brainer if they’ll go with the story.

    Selling their soul? When was it any different the moment mega bucks get in the way? That’s why the best mainstream media has an editorial process. Old fashioned and perceived as tainted I guess these days but as readers, you’ve to decide – do I want quality or the 5 second flash?

    If nothing else, this is a good argument as to why TM isn’t the egalitarian site it has claimed. Is and always has been Gabe’s faves.

  2. It’s actually worse than that in one sense. Techmeme decides which way it wants to order and aggregate stories. I’ve seen plenty of occasions where stories originated at one place but were 2nd or 3rd ranked at TechMeme in favor of a so-called A-lister.

    The PRs are the smart ones here. They know who will print what and go after them. TC is a no-brainer if they’ll go with the story.

    Selling their soul? When was it any different the moment mega bucks get in the way? That’s why the best mainstream media has an editorial process. Old fashioned and perceived as tainted I guess these days but as readers, you’ve to decide – do I want quality or the 5 second flash?

    If nothing else, this is a good argument as to why TM isn’t the egalitarian site it has claimed. Is and always has been Gabe’s faves.

  3. Great guidance for us on PR, and good fodder for the tradeoff between crass marketing and the value of blogging to accelerate innovation.

    I’d assert that the spectrum of blogging virtue is
    - lowest end = splogs
    - middle end = semi-corporate blogs like mine
    - medium/high = blogs who survive on the marketing universe like TechCrunch
    - highest end = expert bloggers without a commercial agenda

  4. Great guidance for us on PR, and good fodder for the tradeoff between crass marketing and the value of blogging to accelerate innovation.

    I’d assert that the spectrum of blogging virtue is
    - lowest end = splogs
    - middle end = semi-corporate blogs like mine
    - medium/high = blogs who survive on the marketing universe like TechCrunch
    - highest end = expert bloggers without a commercial agenda

  5. So far I’ve focused all my clients’ outreach efforts on bloggers that we deem influential in their space. I generally don’t pay much attention to TechMeme as a barometer of “success” when it comes to “blogger PR” (a misnomer at best).

    Last week one of my clients launched via 15 bloggers. Over 200 blog posts were subsequently written about them, with over 1000 collective comments and discussion threads on various forums. They “made” TechMeme’s below-the-fold section for a couple of hours, then vanished.

    I’ll call the results “overwhelmingly” successful, even though very few “A-Listers” were involved in the process…

    But hey, it’s only my livelihood, right? :)

  6. So far I’ve focused all my clients’ outreach efforts on bloggers that we deem influential in their space. I generally don’t pay much attention to TechMeme as a barometer of “success” when it comes to “blogger PR” (a misnomer at best).

    Last week one of my clients launched via 15 bloggers. Over 200 blog posts were subsequently written about them, with over 1000 collective comments and discussion threads on various forums. They “made” TechMeme’s below-the-fold section for a couple of hours, then vanished.

    I’ll call the results “overwhelmingly” successful, even though very few “A-Listers” were involved in the process…

    But hey, it’s only my livelihood, right? :)

  7. “People just like to hear smart people at smart companies discuss where they are going.”
    I couldn’t agree more and started a blog with this exact kind of video features. Would love to talk more with you about this. Tx

  8. “People just like to hear smart people at smart companies discuss where they are going.”
    I couldn’t agree more and started a blog with this exact kind of video features. Would love to talk more with you about this. Tx

  9. Robert,

    I am one of those you so affectionately call “they”. ;-) Its been a real noisy week full of flacks getting flack and I think its interesting how over time, from time to time, the media-sphere revolts. Here, here!

    We are all part of an news and information ecosystem, and rely on each other to keep the flow going.

    Its exactly true that knowing who is interested in what, when someone wants to receive it, and paying close attention to which vehicles make the most sense to deliver the information (i.e Facebook, twitter, email, etc.)

    I, for one, welcome the direction we are heading, with respect to transparency. Marketers, engineers, journalists, and tastemakers alike are finally able to have dynamic conversation.

    Just remember, don’t kill the messenger! Sometimes we do have valuable information, and that 1 out of 100 bits you might receive is worthwhile. A good PR person WANTS to make the job of a news maker easier, not harder.

    Thanks,

    -LA Lassek

  10. Robert,

    I am one of those you so affectionately call “they”. ;-) Its been a real noisy week full of flacks getting flack and I think its interesting how over time, from time to time, the media-sphere revolts. Here, here!

    We are all part of an news and information ecosystem, and rely on each other to keep the flow going.

    Its exactly true that knowing who is interested in what, when someone wants to receive it, and paying close attention to which vehicles make the most sense to deliver the information (i.e Facebook, twitter, email, etc.)

    I, for one, welcome the direction we are heading, with respect to transparency. Marketers, engineers, journalists, and tastemakers alike are finally able to have dynamic conversation.

    Just remember, don’t kill the messenger! Sometimes we do have valuable information, and that 1 out of 100 bits you might receive is worthwhile. A good PR person WANTS to make the job of a news maker easier, not harder.

    Thanks,

    -LA Lassek

  11. I have watched this very thing you talk about get walked through a number of times, and I find it very annoying, being in another kind of news business where you have to file news copy about real stuff really happening, or analytical curtain-raisers, but not this “fake stuff that might happen”.

    What amazes me with this tech news bubble-istic stuff is that somebody can put out a press release saying “We Might Do This Amazing Thing on Tuesday” and *nobody ever checks* if the thing went down on Tuesday. So you get this “Widget, Inc. To Do Amazing Thing on Tuesday” and it’s almost as good as if they really waited until Tuesday, and reported the news.

    In fact, on the Second Life scene, since you often can’t get on to the packed sim that only holds 70 or 140 or whatever, the reporters don’t even bother to see — did the amazing thing go down Tuesday? And why should they? They reported or blogged about it *last* week and now it’s “done”.

    I love kyte.tv and your sound-byte, Robert, “I have a tv station in my pocket”. I mean, does it get better than that?

    Hey, do you like blip.TV I watch that a lot with SL stuff. Seems to work well too out of people’s wireless PCs, they just film a movie right out of their laptop and upload it.

  12. I have watched this very thing you talk about get walked through a number of times, and I find it very annoying, being in another kind of news business where you have to file news copy about real stuff really happening, or analytical curtain-raisers, but not this “fake stuff that might happen”.

    What amazes me with this tech news bubble-istic stuff is that somebody can put out a press release saying “We Might Do This Amazing Thing on Tuesday” and *nobody ever checks* if the thing went down on Tuesday. So you get this “Widget, Inc. To Do Amazing Thing on Tuesday” and it’s almost as good as if they really waited until Tuesday, and reported the news.

    In fact, on the Second Life scene, since you often can’t get on to the packed sim that only holds 70 or 140 or whatever, the reporters don’t even bother to see — did the amazing thing go down Tuesday? And why should they? They reported or blogged about it *last* week and now it’s “done”.

    I love kyte.tv and your sound-byte, Robert, “I have a tv station in my pocket”. I mean, does it get better than that?

    Hey, do you like blip.TV I watch that a lot with SL stuff. Seems to work well too out of people’s wireless PCs, they just film a movie right out of their laptop and upload it.

  13. Scrivs: cause I know they didn’t. You forget that I talk with all the other bloggers on a regular basis. And, heck, Mashable will print ANYTHING (almost). Just kidding. :-)

  14. Scrivs: cause I know they didn’t. You forget that I talk with all the other bloggers on a regular basis. And, heck, Mashable will print ANYTHING (almost). Just kidding. :-)

  15. Hey Robert:

    Great piece. As social media evolves, it’s imperative that PR pros grow with it.

    Seesmic is doing an amazing job of utilizing new technology to promote its site in a more engaging fashion than traditional PR allows. Instead of targets, reporters and potential users are invited as members of a discussion. In the democratic world of social media, the best ideas will rise.

    Sure, as bloggers gain more cred, they will get pitched more frequently. With so much information out there, PR pros can provide great sources. The problem is, many PR pros don’t understand blogger relations. Other PR pros are just lazy.

    You’re right. Most people just want smart people at smart companies who can be more than a talking head, but also a resource. We in the PR world are trying to not be spammers, Robert.

    Traditional press releases are dying. Hopefully the new Social Media News Release, one of several strategies to increase the value of PR, helps bloggers–both pro and amateur–find the key information, determine if it’s useful, and then use the content as they see fit.

    Anyway, thanks for acknowledging the good stuff out there!

    Best,

    Chris

  16. Hey Robert:

    Great piece. As social media evolves, it’s imperative that PR pros grow with it.

    Seesmic is doing an amazing job of utilizing new technology to promote its site in a more engaging fashion than traditional PR allows. Instead of targets, reporters and potential users are invited as members of a discussion. In the democratic world of social media, the best ideas will rise.

    Sure, as bloggers gain more cred, they will get pitched more frequently. With so much information out there, PR pros can provide great sources. The problem is, many PR pros don’t understand blogger relations. Other PR pros are just lazy.

    You’re right. Most people just want smart people at smart companies who can be more than a talking head, but also a resource. We in the PR world are trying to not be spammers, Robert.

    Traditional press releases are dying. Hopefully the new Social Media News Release, one of several strategies to increase the value of PR, helps bloggers–both pro and amateur–find the key information, determine if it’s useful, and then use the content as they see fit.

    Anyway, thanks for acknowledging the good stuff out there!

    Best,

    Chris

  17. Pingback: Email Dashboard
  18. Isn’t this the same issue that you brought up with Google a couple months ago(see ‘Scoble doesn’t know what he’s talking about etc.’)? When you think about it, SEOing is new, while infiltrating “social graphs” is the game PR people have been playing since the stone-age. I wish TM would would use a little more discretion and a little less algorithim.

  19. Isn’t this the same issue that you brought up with Google a couple months ago(see ‘Scoble doesn’t know what he’s talking about etc.’)? When you think about it, SEOing is new, while infiltrating “social graphs” is the game PR people have been playing since the stone-age. I wish TM would would use a little more discretion and a little less algorithim.

Comments are closed.