September 29, 2022

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Radio Roundtable: FB down, PRs & Blogger outreach (sigh), and when not to complain

Radio Roundtable: FB down, PRs & Blogger outreach (sigh), and when not to complain

This week on Media Bullseye’s Radio Roundtable Jen Zingsheim is joined by co-host Doug Haslam. The two discuss the mass hysteria created by Facebook’s recent outages, the ongoing problems surrounding PR and blogger outreach, and some recent examples of businesses reacting badly to negative social media content.

Click here to listen to the 30-minute program.

  • First, Jen and Doug discuss the recent Facebook outages, and examine what this means for businesses. Doug points out that this should be a wake up call to any business considering abandoning a website for Facebook: if you don’t own your platform, you are over-relying on a third party–and he makes the very smart point that you need to make sure you are backed up to a platform you manage. Jen mentions a recent post on TechDirt that makes the point that even if you aren’t a paying customer, expectations matter; this applies to Facebook users too.
  • Next, the perennial issue of PR and blogger outreach has once again surfaced, only this time it isn’t about bad pitches, it’s instead focused on another aspect of slap-dash PR work: focusing too much on the A-listers, not enough on the most logical outreach targets. The post at Spin Sucks takes on this and other bad habits of the PR set, including, according to the post, directions from PR pros to bloggers on what to write about. Doug wonders if PR pros are providing bloggers with standard key messages or talking points–which are provided as background–and this is being misinterpreted as telling the bloggers what to write about. At least, that’s what he and Jen *hope* is happening because by this point any PR pro out there should know better than to tell a blogger what to write about.
  • Finally, they discuss some…interesting business responses to negative online content. Specifically, an employee at Price Chopper calling the employer of someone who posted a mildly negative tweet to complain about the person, and then a hotel who threw out a couple based on a negative review posted to TripAdvisor. Doug points out that maybe one should complete the stay/trip/whatever before complaining about a hotel–not only in an effort to view the service in its entirety, but also to, well, avoid getting tossed from the hotel. Jen points out that the Price Chopper incident is yet another reminder that social media guidelines should be discussed with everyone at a company, since in this instance a Price Chopper employee did act without the “knowledge of our consumer insights people or my direct supervisor, the Vice President of Public Relations and Consumer and Marketing Services.”
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    Excellent show as always, Jen and Doug.

    On your first discussion about Facebook getting swallowed by the Fail Whale, I don't know that as a consumer/audience member I would be so forgiving of organizations relying on Facebook. It sounded like you were saying it'd be unreasonable for anyone to blame a company using Facebook for a contest, promotion, etc. if Facebook goes down. You likened it to contest stipulating that they won't be held accountable for the postal service not delivering an entry on time, or something along those lines. In this case I don't think Facebook is analogous to the postal service–unless (and this could be the case) there is some sort of paid arrangement with the organization. If it's simply a free account an organization is using to do its business on Facebook, they are responsible, I think, for that choice.

      Jen Zingsheim

      Ah, see things sound so different in my head…

      What I was trying to get at is that companies have the standard legalese for contests run through the mail down-pat. Almost every contest entry has "not responsible for lost, misplaced, or delayed entries. Entries must be received by midnight Poconos time on March 12, 2010." Etc. One can assume that misplaced mail is only going to affect a very small portion of contest entrants. But a total outage of Twitter or Facebook is going to impact a significant portion of entrants, depending on how the contest is run and/or the duration of the outage. My question was, how do companies deal with this aspect? Is it the next KFC/Oprah debacle waiting to happen? Or, is it wise when running a contest in social media to have it be a multi-platform entry–in other words, have options to participate in both FB and Twitter–just in case one or the other is down?

      I don't think Facebook is analogous to the postal service in any way other than it is the delivery vehicle used to submit entries. My point was that it is more of an issue, as it's more visible. If the postal service can't deliver entries due to say, a massive snowstorm, really no one knows how many are impacted. You can suspect that your entry didn't make it, but that's it. With FB/Twitter, everyone knows.

      Thanks for listening–and for commenting!


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    Gini Dietrich

    I hope you're right, too, about the talking points! Having not seen what bloggers receive from PR pros that make them think they're being told what to write, they were pretty earnest in their attempt to understand how it all works. They really thought THEY had to pitch PR firms, if they thought the firm had clients that fit their readership. When we talked more about that, people got a little more comfortable and told me about the pros that only pitch A-listers and those who tell them what to write…or they don't get the product or service. So methinks it probably happens and we have on our rose-colored glasses.

      Jen Zingsheim

      Gini, first, thanks for dropping by!

      If there are any PR firms out there actually telling bloggers what to write, I hope they have their hats handed to them soon. There's really no excuse for that sort of thing this late in the game! It's depressing really. It likely does happen, because I know how many blast email pitches I receive at Media Bullseye that are completely irrelevant.

      It's lazy PR work, and it

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