THINKPIECE: Our volatile media climate means large staff turnover - watch who you X from your Rolodex

Before the advent and predominance of cyberspace, the Rolodex was the PR person’s secret weapon. In some circles, it still is. In others, it’s a tool for exclusion. Either way, its purpose of easy access to the right media can be complicated by constant turnover - both at PR agencies and at publications.

Before the advent and predominance of cyberspace, the Rolodex was the PR person’s secret weapon. In some circles, it still is. In others, it’s a tool for exclusion. Either way, its purpose of easy access to the right media can be complicated by constant turnover - both at PR agencies and at publications.

Before the advent and predominance of cyberspace, the Rolodex was

the PR person’s secret weapon. In some circles, it still is. In others,

it’s a tool for exclusion. Either way, its purpose of easy access to the

right media can be complicated by constant turnover - both at PR

agencies and at publications.



In many cases, the trusty Rolodex has been relegated to the rank of

efficient business card software or anointed as an entry on a Palm

Pilot. Despite modern accouterments, keeping up is not any easier. There

used to be just print and broadcast media. Now the Internet makes three

categories, but it’s still ’the media.’



Sometimes the media converge; sometimes they are separate entities.

Still, all dispense information to the public. One outlet may be more

important to a particular client in terms of readership or prestige, but

all still reach that coveted audience. So do freelance writers.



In this climate of media volatility, staff writers switch companies at

record speed, perhaps moving from a newspaper to a dot-com or from a

trade journal to a consumer magazine. PR people change agencies or jump

from agencies to corporate posts.



If each side remains in the same industry, they seem to follow one

another.



There is a certain symbiotic relationship that transcends change. After

all, the publications are still contacted, and the PR person still reads

the publications. One way or another, their paths cross.



But what about the freelancer? When his roster of publications or the

industries he covers change, his name is zapped from the mailing list,

never to be added again. Certainly, this is often a clerical error.

Sometimes it isn’t, especially if the freelancer constantly asks for

favors or takes free trips or requests product samples without requisite

coverage to back these demands. Zapping his name from the list makes

sense. But this behavior is not standard.



Why would an agency or corporate office dispense with a productive

freelance writer? Surely the cost of mailing a press kit or faxing a

press release doesn’t represent too great an expense. An e-mail message

would be even cheaper. Besides, if the writer works for six publications

instead of one, the investment is valuable and can really pay off.



Cyberspace and gadgets have yet to rule out networking. One-on-one

contacts beget more valuable coverage than other methods. As one PR

pundit recently said, ’The press are our clients, too.’ If they are, it

pays to stay in touch. Be careful which name you remove from your

Rolodex - it might prove a costly mistake.



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