Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Bloggers could become easy prey to standard public relations techniques

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 29, 2004

by Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher.com

As companies and their public relations organizations ponder how to react to the “blogging” phenomenon, I’d like to point out some tricks of the trade used in the business of influencing media.

Forewarned is forearmed some say, and maybe some of the following will help bloggers who are not professional journalists.

I believe that some bloggers are in danger of losing their independence and their unique voice within the media landscape—if they become pulled into a sphere of influence. This is the “sphere” that professional journalists operate in every day and cannot avoid.


This sphere of influence has many aspects. It involves conversations with company representatives, being included in pre-briefings on important company announcements or mergers, prompt return of phone calls during breaking stories, invitations to events, being fed exclusive stories, and easy access to top executives. In each of those examples, there is a point of leverage that can be subtle, or it can be blunt and to the point.

I might not make too many friends by raising such topics but part of my mission with this venture is to educate readers about how the media “sausage” is made. And if bloggers give up a key vantage point as commentators on the media, by allowing themselves to be pulled into the sphere of influence, we will be poorer for it.

It is impossible to work as a professional journalist and not be influenced in some way. If this wasn’t true, there would not be a massive public relations industry. Many PR companies compare the cost of influencing editorial coverage with the cost of advertising in that publication. A common metric is a number that represents the ratio of: (PR cost of generating a certain amount of column inches in publication)/ advertising cost in that publication. Obviously, there is a higher value on editorial content.

More on this to follow…

[This is one of our “foundation” topics and there will be many more articles on this and related subjects. The goal is to foster a better approach to communicating ideas and generating high quality trusted media.]

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