With that said, the value of media relations doesn’t disappear. In today’s environment where information gets flung about with the care of a ditch digger, one could make an argument that media coverage is more valuable than ever to a brand today.
Yet there’s the rub.
Succeeding with journalists can require NOT publishing. In fact, it can often mean not publishing your best stuff.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but you can see how this plays out with Intel’s recent media relations work to publicize the 50th anniversary of Moore’s Law.
Intel essentially takes on the role of journalist in interviewing Gordon Moore on his famous axiom. Rather than publish the interview, Intel opts to package the content in a tidy PDF downloaded from its newsroom.
In pointing journalists to the content, Intel gains three benefits:
- “Access” to new perspectives from Mr. Moore stands to increase the depth of the stories.
- Inserts Intel’s preferred narrative slices into media stories.
- Controls Mr. Moore’s input (also reduces the demands on his time).
Some journalists like Don Clark at The Wall Street Journal tried to connect with Mr. Moore: “Mr. Moore couldn’t be reached, and Intel said he wasn’t available to comment.”
Of course, everyone ends up unhappy if Intel manufactures 1,500 words of corporate speak. To this point, there’s a journalistic-like quality to the Intel deliverable with the same storytelling techniques.
For example, this anecdote surfaced in the BBC and The Wall Street Journal:
- “It’s amazing how often I run across a reference to Moore’s Law. In fact, I Googled ‘Moore’s Law’ and I Googled ‘Murphy’s Law’ and ‘Moore’s Law’ beats ‘Murphy’ by at least two to one.”
There’s very much a conversational tone to much of the content like this passage that landed in the San Jose Mercury News and PC Mag:
- “But one could see the trend was going in the direction that this was going to be the cheaper way eventually. That was my real objective — to communicate that we have a technology that’s going to make electronics cheap.”
Back to the point that Intel did not publish the Moore interview. The commoditization of the news release forces journalists to dig deeper for stories and content not in the public domain.
It’s true that the Intel document sits in the public domain (Intel’s press room). Still, by virtue of the packaging — atomized content instead of a complete story — and being “roped off” for journalists, the perception is one of out of the mainstream view.
Did Intel’s approach work?
The question can’t be answered by simply looking at media impressions. The media was going to cover a milestone of that magnitude whether Intel lifted a finger or not.
But given that Intel’s atomized content showed up in so many of the articles ranging from USA Today to CNET to Wired, it seems reasonable to conclude that Intel accomplished its mission.
Yeah, I actually have a different take. Most reporters are so buried you should go ahead and publish your best stuff and pitch it after the fact. The shares they see is social proof the story is worth covering. Blog posts, new sites or other sources an organization might self-publish is not much different than a published release — from a utility standpoint of a journalist. Except they have a chance to see you self-vet a story idea to see if it has legs. That’s how I see it from where I sit.
You make a fair point. But I still think giving the illusion of content roped off from the proletarian makes the content more attractive to journalists.
This approach also has hybrids. A few years ago I was impressed with an IBM server announcement that held back some content for the NYT which in turn resulted in a feature story. It wasn’t exactly an exclusive, but without the “special content” the NYT doesn’t devote a feature to the news.
Agreed on hybrid. And there are exceptions too. For example I had data I was pretty sure would land a big story. We did give it exclusively (after a lot of debate) and it would up on the front page on print, digitize and mobile. It probably wouldn’t have happened if we published first. The reporter needed time to digest the data. It’s a rare exception for me though. Generally, I’m opposed to exclusives because someone usually gets upset.