THINKPIECE: In the interest of retaining PR viability, we offer an open letter of apology to Internet reporters

On behalf of my colleagues in the public relations profession, I would like to apologize to the growing legion of journalists who cover the Internet. We know you get impatient, if not incensed, by the myriad e-mails, faxes and phone calls we send your way. We recognize that there are still too few in your ranks (and too small a news hole at most outlets) to adequately capture all the viable Net-related stories that cross your desktops.

On behalf of my colleagues in the public relations profession, I would like to apologize to the growing legion of journalists who cover the Internet. We know you get impatient, if not incensed, by the myriad e-mails, faxes and phone calls we send your way. We recognize that there are still too few in your ranks (and too small a news hole at most outlets) to adequately capture all the viable Net-related stories that cross your desktops.

On behalf of my colleagues in the public relations profession, I

would like to apologize to the growing legion of journalists who cover

the Internet. We know you get impatient, if not incensed, by the myriad

e-mails, faxes and phone calls we send your way. We recognize that there

are still too few in your ranks (and too small a news hole at most

outlets) to adequately capture all the viable Net-related stories that

cross your desktops.



We acknowledge that there are too few PR professionals who are

empathetic to the Internet reporter’s nearly impossible dilemma. Nor are

there enough in our profession who have the training (or temerity) to

challenge and educate the know-it-all, VC-fueled dot-com clients who

haven’t a clue about what makes news - or the role we play in its

delivery.



What’s most unfortunate is that among the countless ignored PR pitches

lies the next killer application. Important news stories are being left

on the table while, incredulously, many dot-coms have learned to be

content when their ’news’ moves over the newswire. The times - and the

rules of media engagement - have changed.



Today Internet reporters in the mainstream media mine story ideas from

Net-born outlets like CNET’s News.com or ZDNet, among others. Recently,

a highly regarded Net reporter at The New York Times confided that he no

longer follows the Associated Press for story ideas or validation.



He keeps an eye on News.com’s dynamic news feed. (It’s no wonder that

the AP recently cut a deal to carry content from News.com).



So how can today’s PR pro reassert his or her position as a vital

intermediary?



The PR profession cannot and must not take on every dot-com company

dangling cash or stock options. If the dot-com is not a first mover or

if its business model leaves much to the imagination, it will invariably

fail to capture significant and sustained attention from first-tier news

channels - no matter how talented or connected the PR firm.



The news bar today is higher. We must know where our client’s ’news’

fits in the competitive landscape and be smart when formulating and

directing our queries. Only then will we stand a chance of breaking

through the clutter.



Who knows? With a little more diligence on our part, we might even

convince Internet beat reporters to appreciate the real value we offer.

Until then, we will have to wait until the number of journalists and the

amount of editorial space devoted to the Internet grow to accommodate

’all the news that’s fit to print.’ Fortunately, for us, that day will

arrive in Internet time.



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