Bob on Press Releases:

Don’t send ’em. Unless you’re a publicly traded corporate behemoth like Live Nation or you’re an old wave band, owned by the media, that has no idea who its fans are.

If everybody was reading the newspaper, why has circulation dropped? Ditto with “Time” and “Newsweek”. And network TV has abysmal ratings, certainly compared to the days before cable. Why do you keep sending a zillion arrows into this abyss?

I know why, it makes you feel good, it makes you feel like you’re doing something. But you’re not. You’re just wasting time.

Read the full tome …

bob’s on to something, and i think you can apply his ideas to all consumer sectors, not just music. i don’t agree with all of what he says, though.

people are actually watching MORE television than ever

they are reading MORE content (newspaper/mag/online) than ever

aggregate circulation, ratings are going UP across the board, but down among individual outlets.

the attention’s all spreading out.

the ubiquity of content makes all messages less impactful.

that’s why NEW brands struggle — whether they’re bands, TV shows, soft drinks. there’s no central place to force people to pay attention and take note.

ATTENTION, not content, is a scarce resource.

All communications must become all the more deft, targeted and un-templated.

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5 Comments

Filed under media, music, uncategorized

5 responses to “Bob on Press Releases:

  1. Kristina

    Is Bob a publicist? I love it when people who don’t do PR make these lofty proclamations. I do PR every single day, to lifestyle and food media, and they still want press releases. Does that mean I also shouldn’t do social media releases, spread the word on social networks, leverage my blog on behalf of my clients, blah blah blah? Of course not. But I find it exasperating that people who don’t do PR make overblown statements about its future. Eventually, the press release will likely be dead. But for now smart PR people keep it in the mix, and traditional media (in my realm at least) is still important. At the same time, traditional media who don’t want to become extinct are creating meaningful (e.g. Gourmet.com) presences online and PRs are learning how not only to reach them there but also go directly to the audience. For people who actually work in this realm, it’s not an either/or.

  2. he’s not a publicist. he’s a music industry analyst who receives scads of releases from people trying to promote their music. his point is that the press release is not the way to get music lover’s attention.

    i would tend to agree.

    i DO see the value of packaging info and directing it to targeted audiences, whether it’s through a press release, a public speech, or whatever.

    but i am also much more a follower of the seth godin school of permission marketing. focusing on the people who actually may WANT to hear from you.

    if you are promoting an entertainment brand — a tv show or music, its increasingly important to go DIRECT to the fans and reach them where they are.

  3. A huge issue with so many diverse angles that it’s difficult to say anything that’s more than half true. But within that half that’s true is this: The media is no longer monolithic, as you say, Col.

    People may be watching more television, but that’s because of the proliferation of cable networks, and no one entity has near the clout any of them did even in the early 90s.

    News media are in a world of hurt. People aren’t reading or watching like they did 10 years ago. The traditional “news hole” in the leading print media is shrinking dramatically, soon to be surpassed by ad space if the Tribune Company has its way.

    Targeting the niches is not only smart, it’s the only way to reach a receptive audience. But it can’t be all so polite as Seth Grodin would have it – if you’re going to ask people their “permission” to communicate, you have to get to them first (without permission) to ask the question.

    If anybody trying to communicate anything is lucky enough to identify a true target audience, I say go for it, kick out the stops, pedal to the metal until you’re told to stop.

  4. Kristina

    seth is the reason i left my job – he wrote an essay on stories with the power to change the world that made me say, “wtf am i doing with my talents?.” those stories can be PR, but they rarely are. there are a lot of dumb publicists in the world who contribute to the churn that people like bob hate. and now many of them are hopping mindlessly on new media tactics (sans strategy), only adding to the pointless churn. if you don’t have a point of view, something worthwhile to say, if you don’t create meaningful communication, you may reach your audience by merit of them glimpsing your chaff, but you won’t move them to DO anything, much less care, and you may piss them off (like people who pitch me totally inappropriate ideas for my blog, biggest surprise of all to me that anyone notices). social media is a new generation of communication tools, and like so many other previous iterations of communication tools, it is always the few and far between that use it as seth has long counseled: for meaning and resonance rather than self-serving, short term activity report fodder. however: people who disdain publicists (often understandably) are curious sources of expertise on “the future of PR,” which means many things and operates on many fronts including, increasingly, ones in the more transparent new media realm.

    when are you going to post on the fun event of last eve?? 🙂

  5. i am guilty as charged of looking down on PR. mostly it’s just the label though, not the discipline.
    it’s the connotations carried in this video that turn me off.

    yet i don’t see distinct lines between marketing, public relations, journalism, advertising, and internet/new media communications. these disciplines are all intermingled.

    i work in a company with a massive publicity group and wonder whether they are approaching the task at had in an intelligent way. the mindset seems to be pretty old fashioned — everything in it’s “right place.”

    but come on dudes — we’re in a fluid world. people need to be able to move around and work in many different ways to really do a good job getting a message out and maximizing its impact.

    then again everything is run by men in my company … they have a lockdown on the structure and there isn’t a lot of collaboration, web thinking, etc. it’s all problem − solution which tends to stifle creativity and innovation.

    when i talk about the future of PR i think i refer more to the nature of communications in general … will we need to have intermediaries? in some cases yes, and in others no. the traditional media used to be the main intermediary and now it’s less relevant. certainly it’s important and will continue to be important. just less so.

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