in Marketing & Media

Twittering Journalist Offers Wisdom To Advertising Flacks

Following is also my latest MediaPost Spin column. 

Twittering Journalist Offers Wisdom To Advertising Flacks

March 7th, 2008 by Max Kalehoff

If you work in the online advertising industry, you’ve probably heard of veteran journalist Brian Morrissey. He may be coveted for his role as Adweek’s Digital Editor, but he’s also carved a niche as the most prolific ad-industry journalist on Twitter, the rapidly growing, short-form microblog community.

Known in the Twitterverse as @bmorrissey, Brian dishes up some of the most hilarious, ironic and insightful observations in the online ad industry. While always good-spirited and polite, his clever sarcasm gives industry pundits Bob Garfield and George Parker a run for their money.

But perhaps the most valuable service @bmorrissey delivers – both for his employer as well as his readers – is a raw, behind-the-scenes view into the personality, reporting, analysis and editorial decisions of a leading industry trade publication. His perspective, pet peeves and awkward interactions are especially valuable for PR people and other industry stakeholders, who wish to actively engage in the making of the news.

Following are some @bmorrissey uncut, verbatim gems – words of PR wisdom, really, with preceding summary titles by yours truly. Sure, there’s an emphasis on poor practice and blunders. But if they weren’t prevalent, we wouldn’t be addressing them. The ad industry – which suffers from low trust and credibility – should take note.

  1. Spam Is Spam Is Spam: “Dear PR people: you spam me enough thru email, must you use Facebook too? Why not drop by the apartment? Let yourself in, get comfortable.”
  2. Aspire To Great Work, Not So-Called Expertise: “everyone wants to be an expert. would be nice if same people had actual examples of cool stuff they’re doing. lots of talk, less action.”
  3. Scrutinize Your True Value: “so many people act as gatekeepers in the belief they’re making themselves valuable. what’s funny is when the gatekeepers then claim they have too few resources to properly mind the gates. Great scam.”
  4. Engage Your Prospects Selectively And With Respect: “the PR world is just as much spray and pray as the ad world. I’m doused every single day.”
  5. Don’t Be Persistently Annoying: “How can I not be rude to the following-up-on-an-email-I-just-sent calls from PRbots? I get >12 a day. Frustrating. Which then leads to a following-up-on-our-conversation email. It’s vicious cycle.”
  6. Don’t Greenwash: “yes, i’m a jaded reporter, but agencies getting preachy about the environment? please. they’re part of the reason we’re in this mess.”
  7. Don’t Be A Third Wheel: “do those of you interviewed want PR people on the phone? really, what’s the deal there? it’s creepy from my perspective.”
  8. Don’t Be Simultaneously Obvious And Opportunistic: “Dear Flacks for Vendor People: I know they’re ‘available for comment’ about whatever merger is in the news.”
  9. Learn When To Let Go: “PR people: take a breath. The Super Bowl is over. Let’s agree to move on to other matters.”
  10. Personal Touches Matter: “arrived to my cube to find a note left for me on my chair. can’t say i’ve gotten one of those in some time.”
  11. Don’t Lie About Your Affiliation: “Bothered by PR agency flacks who say they’re ‘with’ a company. They’re not. They’re with a PR agency hired by the company.”
  12. Editors Are Biased By Desire And Formula: “Editors have problems accepting stories as they are rather than as they wish they’d be: simplistic and conflict driven.”
  13. Paid Endorsements Are Not Credible: “Breaking: Interactive TV vendor pays for research finding consumers have “increasing appetite for interactive TV.”
  14. Acquire News Judgment: “still amazes me that when I ask flacks, what’s noteworthy about this, they often don’t have an answer.”
  15. Be Sensitive To Jargon And Context: “PR Pitch Subject Line of Day: ‘Leveraging the Holiday Season to Maximize SEM Spend and Increase Conversion.” Gets you in xmas spirit.'”

In addition to lessons of blunders, Brian also leverages Twitter as an ongoing, public idea exchange with a number of fellow Twitterers, such as @gregverdino, @peterkim, @ryananderson, @armano, @danielstein, @meat99 and sometimes @maxkalehoff (me).

He’ll frequently reach out to his Twitter followers for their opinions on industry issues, key areas to probe, or sources to interview. He’ll also extend praise for valuable interactions. Importantly, he’s exposing himself to scrutiny and providing a direct line of communication for interaction with his readers. He’s leveraging Twitter for open-source journalism, while driving his own native fluency in emergency media.

If you work in the ad industry, I highly recommend you follow @bmorrissey on Twitter. If you’re a PR person in the ad industry, you definitely should follow him. You’ll be better off for it.

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  1. brian morrissey is a bitter, 35-year old trade journalist who hasn't yet realized that annoying pr people are part and parcel of the media business. im sure he has a google alert on his name that will alert him to this cheap, unverified comment.

    instead of bitching about it incessantly, perhaps he could use all of these public vanity platforms to tell people how to best engage him. ie: don't leave voicemails to follow-up. ever. specific criteria for unsolicited pitches (with the rest ignored). you get the idea.

    also, anyone who gets unsolicited email has figured out how to apply rules and use filters to cut out the nonsense. he should try it.

    morrissey is obviously trying to be a george parker-like curmudgeon (sans the biting humor and intelligence), and is burning bridges in the process. the irony of it all is one day his job will be cut and he'll find himself knocked off the high horse and into the muddy trenches of marketing and advertising.

    oh, and hopefully this archives well in google– the irony!

  2. brian morrissey is a bitter, 35-year old trade journalist who hasn't yet realized that annoying pr people are part and parcel of the media business. im sure he has a google alert on his name that will alert him to this cheap, unverified comment.

    instead of bitching about it incessantly, perhaps he could use all of these public vanity platforms to tell people how to best engage him. ie: don't leave voicemails to follow-up. ever. specific criteria for unsolicited pitches (with the rest ignored). you get the idea.

    also, anyone who gets unsolicited email has figured out how to apply rules and use filters to cut out the nonsense. he should try it.

    morrissey is obviously trying to be a george parker-like curmudgeon (sans the biting humor and intelligence), and is burning bridges in the process. the irony of it all is one day his job will be cut and he'll find himself knocked off the high horse and into the muddy trenches of marketing and advertising.

    oh, and hopefully this archives well in google– the irony!

Webmentions

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    […] Recruiting, Research A new colleague and local Cincinnatian, Kevin Dugan, pointed me toward this article by Max Kalehoff, discussing some recommendations given by Brian Morrissey, Adweek’s Digital […]

  • The Bad Pitch Blog June 25, 2008

    client? I’d get my junk bronzed while I forwarded that video around the world in 80 clicks. Twitter Offers InsightsWe’ve told you before to follow reporters online as you would your own vanity feed…Google News Alerts, SocNet Sweeps and the like.Brian Morisseyoffers a ton of insight into his PR likes and dislikes via Twitter. Pay them heed if you want to engage him in an AdWeek dialogue. SlideShare Makes You SmarterIf SlideShare was around when I was in college, I’d have had more time to play. There is a