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

PRWatch: What Happens When PR People Have More Traffic Than The Reporters

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 7, 2009

A lot of PR people have jumped into the world of blogging, Facebook and now Twitter, with a lot of enthusiasm and they have been doing it for years and now have very healthy traffic numbers and very large numbers of Twitter followers.

For example, Brian Solis: His blog BrianSolis.com has about 77,000 unique visitors every month and he has a Twitter following of more than 33,000.

Todd Defren from Shift Communications, his pr-squared.com has blog traffic of more than 30,000 unique visitors and he has a Twitter following of over 13,000.

Steve Rubel at Edelman has recently shifted to a Posterous blog but he has more than 56,000 unique visitors and more than 31,000 Twitter followers.

In contrast, journalists and their employers have been slow to make use of the "new media." Few journalists blog and few are on Twitter or Facebook, and generally, most are very timid when it comes to promoting their own stories and building up their Twitter/Facebook followers and friends.

Yet it is this type of active, always-on social media presence that is required these days, as a journalist, to gain attention to your stories. I do it -- not because I like or dislike doing it -- it's simply that's what the current rules of the game are.

But, it's going to be a while before other journalists figure out these rules of self-promotion and become comfortable with self-promotion. (Self-promotion is fine as long as you can walk your walk -- self-promotion is bad only when you are promoting poor content.)

Since PR people are much more comfortable with self-promotion, many have acquired large traffic to their blogs and also amassed large numbers on their Twitter and Facebook accounts.

This brings up an interesting scenario because in the majority of cases, PR people such as Brian Solis, are pitching stories to journalists who have very much smaller pageviews on the stories they write, and far smaller Twitter/Facebook communities to which to distribute their stories, than the PR people.

The PR people could post the stories themselves and pitch them to their already large communities and get a far higher readership!

But, the problem they face is that this would be a "pay per post" type scenario and they would lose credibility very quickly.

Also, having someone else write a story about your client, on a third-party site, where there has been no exchange of money, conveys far higher value to the story.

That's the paradox of PR peoples' large, personal media footprint -- they can't use their own access to large numbers of people to promote their clients.


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