I try to keep up on what my peers are up to, so I subscribe to a number of blogs and social media feeds. I received an interesting note in my Inbox earlier today from The Strategic Guy, Marc Hausman of Strategic Communications, outlining one of the stupidest PR stunts I have heard about in recent history.
I know there has been an ongoing feud between Facebook and TechCrunch. I have worked with TechCrunch on a few stories and I know they can be a tough audience. Apparently, they spotted a new “fax a photo” application on Facebook recently and wanted to learn more, so they contacted Facebook PR. Response was less than timely, so they went ahead and posted a notice on TechCrunch, which has a large following in the social networking community. It seems that Facebook punk’d TechCrunch. Big joke.
So who is the bigger fool here? TechCrunch, for trying to report on a legitimate new feature they uncovered on Facebook. Or the Facebook PR team for pulling a fast one on those pesky TechCrunch journalists?
Effective PR is about partnership, and, unfortunately, over the years the relationship between PR and the press has become strained because of narrow attitudes and stupid stunts like this. I always explain to my clients that my press relationships are more important than my client relationships. That client may be paying me today, but long after that check is spent I will have to call on that editor again, and he or she will remember whether I am friend or foe. I have run into situations where a client has balked at an interview I have set up, lied to a reporter, or put me in a situation where I cannot deliver what I promised to a journalist on behalf of a client. I always apologize to the reporter and try to salvage that relationship, because I know that the reporter relationship is more important and that client is now unreliable and will hang me out to dry again some time in the future.
I also tell my clients (and my prospects) that good PR is a dating service. You can set up the meeting with the journalists they want to woo, but it’s up to the client to cement the relationship and give the reporter something to take to press. In this instance, the Facebook PR team has abused that relationship. Let’s see what happens the next time Facebook has something of real value to tell TechCrunch. 6HA94YFYBRAG