Google Not Talking To CNET – A PR Lesson

    August 7, 2005

This was bouncing around in the blogs last week, but now it’s in the New York Times. Google PR is not talking to CNET until July 2006 …

… because published Google+balances+privacy%2C+reach/2100-1032_3-5787483.html?tag=nl”>a story with personal details on CEO Eric Schmidt gleaned from, where else, Google.

This is so old school. I’d like to take this as an opportunity to talk about the increasing need for the PR community to swiftly react to all media inquires – both professional and civilian – in the era where the definition of “journalist” is anything but defined.

Let’s start with what CNET Editor Jay Singh told the Times . He said he couldn’t recall a similar situation…

“Sometimes a company is ticked off and won’t talk to a reporter for a bit,” he said, “but I’ve never seen a company not talk to a whole news organization.”

Don’t believe this for a second. Maybe it’s true for Jay personally, but not the rest of us. For years companies, particularly in the Valley and even elsewhere, have had “do not call” lists of reporters and even news outlets they won’t talk to. I even learned long ago to let calls from certain reporters go to voicemail if necessary. This forces journalists to write such-and-such “didn’t return calls” as opposed to “didn’t comment.” (It’s subtle, but it sounds better.)

In the blog age, it’s really not feasible to blacklist media or operate the way I once did earlier in my career. The world is more transparent. It operates 24/7. And, yes, it’s flat. Instead, as hard as it is, the PR community needs to facilitate rapid dialogue by all means necessary. This includes blogs, but the usual tools as well. Don’t believe me? Read what David Berlind at ZDNet wrote on Friday about the new pressures bloggers have put on him and his difficulties in getting PR people to respond – and he’s ZDNet. If I represented Continental Airlines, I wouldn’t wait around to contact him. But I would have applied this equally to any blogger.

Now imagine you have a blogger at your doorstep with a similar request. All of us in PR need take this person seriously and respond. Yes, it means our jobs will get harder, but there’s no escape in this new age. What’s worse, it may strain the talent shortage that the PR community is already suffering.

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Steve Rubel is a PR strategist with nearly 16 years of public relations, marketing, journalism and communications experience. He currently serves as a Senior Vice President with Edelman, the largest independent global PR firm.

He authors the Micro Persuasion weblog, which tracks how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the public relations practice.