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Who gets it first? How the media/PR game is changing

Posted by Scott Kirsner  June 29, 2010 01:30 PM

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Last year, I offered some advice about getting coverage here, or in my Sunday "Innovation Economy" column in the Boston Globe.

Since then, there are two things I notice changing about the way I choose to cover things; I'm just one person, after all, working a finite number of hours each day (usually, that number is three).

1. On the blog, I'm mainly focusing on trying to cover company formations, financings, important product launches, big-name new hires (and firings), shut-downs, and the like first. (Sometimes, that can be before a company is ready to officially talk to me about the news.) I feel like that delivers the most value to readers — but correct me if I'm wrong. When PR folks or company executives try to interest me in a story after it has been written about elsewhere, my usual response is, "Let's talk when you've got some new news."

When another outlet covers something first that's relevant to Innovation Economy readers, I'm usually happy to point to it from my Twitter account; often, there just isn't much value I can add by covering it again here or in print. I think a lot of other journalists are heading in this direction, too. Our world is getting much more competitive. The implication of that for companies and their PR representatives is that they need to make much more conscious and strategic choices about where they want to be covered first, since they likely won't be covered by everyone.

2. When someone sends me an announcement under embargo, I'm rarely interested. Embargoes ask journalists to hold onto a bit of news until a specified date, at which point lots of other outlets will usually write the story, too. I would usually prefer to spend my time working on unique pieces that'll have a little more juice to them.

When I make the case for being featured here, relative to other local or trade media, I usually say two things. First, compare any other Web site to Boston.com's Web traffic. In print, the Sunday column reaches 485,000 readers, and many of the blog entries here are re-published in print on Mondays, when the paper's print circulation is 313,000. Second, the people who visit Boston.com and read the Globe aren't just prospective investors or business partners (as is the case with many industry/tech/VC-oriented sites), but they're prospective users, customers, and employees, too.

I welcome your comments below: if you're a PR professional, are you seeing the same thing happening? Is it changing the way you work with media? If you're an entrepreneur, or a reader of the blog and/or the weekly column, do you disagree with my strategy?

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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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