Google’s media selections

In this week's cover story (sub req'd), Keith O'Brien discussed Google's approach to internal communications, specifically on the evolution of its weekly TGIF meeting....

In this week's cover story (sub req'd), Keith O'Brien discussed Google's approach to internal communications, specifically on the evolution of its weekly TGIF meeting. Over the course of multiple interviews, David Krane, director of corporate communications at Google, provided PRWeek with insight on a number of other issues. Here they are discussed below.

It's important to remember, when browsing the magazine rack at your nearest Barnes & Noble, that it is not a repository for Google corporate literature. It’s not that magazines are not probing and critical about the company; they certainly are. It’s just that you can hardly go a month without seeing a huge Google cover story. What? What is irony?

I asked David to detail the thought process that goes into picking who they work with and if, with the media’s interest in the company, they can get away with just working with those who pitch positive stories. Since the company gets a number of cover requests a week, it does have to maintain some standards of selection.

He gave a bullet point list of things the company considers when choosing media. Given the fact that the company Krane works for indexes billions of Web pages, the list, unsurprisingly, was long.

Firstly: What’s the story?

Is it a story we’re enthusiastic about?

Is it a story that we can add a lot of value to?

Can we measure the time and resource investment we’ll make in a piece like this?

Is it a story that will move any of the metrics that matter to us?

Is there something unique about the proposal or is it just a slight variance on something we’ve seen?

Will readers learn something new about Google that could potentially have a positive impact on our business?

What are the writer’s and editors’ objectives are?

Who is on their wishlist of voices?

What are the photo and artwork considerations that should be factored in?

Krane points out the obvious – that those features take a lot of executive bandwidth. But even the things that seem like the easiest part of the process are actually quite time-consuming.

“For years, we’ve received requests from journalists who would like to publish a gallery or series of vignettes of the custom Google logos that we’ve featured on our Web page,” Krane says [PRWeek also considered asking]. “Those are designed for the Web at 72 DPI. They’re not designed to run hi-res [to] show well on magazines.”

“So, when a publication comes to us and says, ‘Can you send us 15 of your favorite Google logos so we can put them in our story?’ Often times we need to go back to the single artists who created the logos."

He says it could take the artist who created those logos a week of straight design time to bring them to that quality level for hi-res images.

But what, I asked, about negative stories?

“We’re not intimidated about negative stories,” Krane says. “We’ve had the objective for many years to be as transparent as possible about our business. Negative stories provided a terrific opportunity for us to expose our point of view and put our actions into a more detailed context to ensure that audiences truly understand the considerations that we make and the priorities that drive our business.”

“We’re unable to satiate the [media’s] appetite that’s presented to us on a daily basis,” Krane adds. “It’s far greater than what we have the staff or executive bandwidth to serve. That said, if you were to run the numbers, the investment our executives make in communications – in sitting on the front line and handling both negative stories and issues-orientated requests – it’s significant considering their other responsibilities.”

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