Tech Journo Tells PR to Maybe Back Off a Bit

shutterstock_112692424The always-excellent Digiday published a great piece today. Titled “Confessions of a Tech Reporter,” it might be better labeled “Tips for Tech PR.”

The primary issue is that many tech founders seem to think that they are “entitled to coverage,” so they make unrealistic demands of their PR teams (be they in-house or third party).

We get it — over at yer old AgencySpy, we get a whole hell of a lot of press releases announcing product launches and hiring moves from companies that don’t produce ads — they just make the software that helps you measure those ads. And they’re looking for clients. Here’s a particularly misguided quote from the post:

“Once a PR person said, ‘It sounds like you’re not after any new readers’ when I declined to cover her random client.”

Well, you obviously shouldn’t say that.

Here’s another one:

“I have gotten responses to emails asking about bad news that say, ‘Don’t be a hater. You’re better than this.’ They think our function is to promote them, not to inform readers.”

And our favorite part:

“…PR people follow you on Instagram, friend you on Facebook, invite you to birthday parties, like they’re your friends who happen to just know all this stuff about you…’Digital ass kissing’ is an actual strategy they sell to clients, where they try to build a rapport online with reporters.”

Now, we’ve never seen it quite so bad…but then we don’t cover tech, either. We do see some of our favorite PR contacts going back and forth with relevant journalists on Twitter, but that’s about dropping in on a conversation and providing information rather than targeting a pet-sector pitch with a “Your Instagram account tells me that you’ve had a dog since last Christmas…”

No one does that, right?

This gets back to something discussed in a post about media relations earlier this month: how should these “relationships” work? From the post again:

“…the smartest people are the founders who recognize that it’s valuable to build a long-term relationship…instead of hiring people to do that for them. There are others [in PR] who do a good job and try to teach their founders to be helpful.”

And that’s the key. We wonder why the anonymous reporter wants more tech founders to do their own promotions given recent stories about sex toys in gift bags, but the main idea is to give a journalist something helpful rather than another ABC product announcement. To simplify, one should have a very specific answer to the most important question:

“This sounds kind of cool. Now why do I care?