Why Web Coverage is the Best PR Coverage

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Just a few minutes ago, yet another PR entity annoyed me for the same reason. They don’t get web writing, or bloggers. They still think web coverage is lesser than print coverage. That’s mildly hilarious, what with this being the year 2008 and much of the planet using the web as a primary information source.

I was working on a couple of articles mentioning or focused on Disney theme parks. I wrote this article about Halloween events and included mention of some very cool sounding festivities over at Disneyland and Disney World. I was hoping to get a picture, so I went onto the Disneyland media site. I completed the registration to get access to media images and even just press releases (since when are those a secret?).

I was annoyed to have to wait 24 hours for approval to access the media site, but Disney certainly isn’t the only organization to make someone wait to access materials, although that, too, is stupid in my opinion. Many members of the media, both online and *gasp* print journalists, need this information immediately. But I digress.

I sit on the articles and wait. This evening I was pleased to see an email saying my login was approved. I skimmed it just enough to see I was approved and logged in. Then I clicked photos. Then I got this message:

This area is reserved for members of the news media. If you qualify, please update your user profile. Please include any notes in the “Supporting information for media credentials” box. We will notify you of your status via e-mail of your account status.

I checked, and I had filled out that portion of my profile. Confused, I went back to the “approval” email. That’s when I noticed this part:

Your current credentials do not provide access to editorial photography and videography section of this website. This is reserved for members of approved media outlets only, and subject to review on a case-by-case basis.

One of the sites I write for is owned by the New York Times, but whatev. Regardless, there is obviously some list of approved news agencies and I didn’t name one that triggered it. This is what I can only refer to as PR web bigotry. It isn’t the first time I’ve encountered it. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to justify my existence as a web writer or blogger ten times over. The funny thing is I never got that kind of grilling when I wrote for print.

The good news is I emailed a nasty reply, and I cc’ed the person with Disney World’s PR department who assisted me when we visited. Then I got an autoreply and it included the information for logging in to the Disney World media page, which is far better. They also have a cool social media site, the Disney World Moms Panel.

Shoot, they even have a Twitter profile (although they might consider, like, following a couple people back). Still, impressive considering their west coast cohorts don’t even allow web writers to access images for, essentially, free advertising for Disneyland without jumping through hoops and getting reviewed on a “case by case basis.” Shudder. Methinks it’s time to write about Universal Studios instead.

It’s not like Disney is the only organization that doesn’t get it.

Just recently, we went to Carowinds outside Charlotte to do some coverage of Charlotte for Kids. I went through all the normal channels to arrange media passes to Carowinds beforehand. Then I arrived where I was told to pick up the passes only to get grilled by the front line person there. She was very confused about my media outlet. Her exact words were, “I’ve never handled one of these for web before.”

Really? The web? You’ve heard of it before, right lady? Extremely popular with, well, almost everyone? Yeah.

So I will give the PR people a freebie here, a no-fee consultation. I will save you an awful lot of time, money and hassle. Next time you think about blowing off a web writer, blogger or someone who does their writing through the internet, consult this list. In fact, why don’t you just print it and paste it next to your computer (you do have internet access, right? Thought so.) Take it to your next board meeting. Because it’s important.

Here are just some of the reasons why web coverage is the best PR coverage.

  • You can often track the results of PR coverage. If the writer links to your site, you can see a direct impact in hard numbers being looking at your own stats to see how many people that coverage sent your way. You will know that those people read that specific article, not the circulation for a specific print edition. And, of course that doesn’t even include the many people who will read the coverage and you will never know it (or, you know, something like the stats you get for coverage in print media).
  • Print coverage has a shelf life, literally. Getting in even a major magazine will only get something read for maybe a month or so. Web coverage has staying power, and it will be found potentially for years to come. Yes, you can argue that it means that bad coverage also stays for years to come. Rest assured. Bad coverage on the web is not to be avoided by annoying web writers and bloggers. Engaging and respecting them is the only way to have some influence on that.
  • The reach is almost limitless with web coverage. Now yes, it is true, there are blogs that only have a few readers. But there are also blogs and web sites that literally reach millions monthly. Many popular web sites have monthly traffic that dramatically surpasses even A-list magazines and newspapers. But the reach goes far beyond that. Bloggers link to other bloggers and web sites. People socially bookmark articles. People tweet about cool articles. Then web writers read that and write about it. And here. Pay close attention now, because you will love this one: PRINT WRITERS read blogs and web sites. That’s where they get lots of story ideas.
  • You get real feedback that you never will from print or broadcast coverage. If someone writes about how great an attraction is, and 20 people comment that they had the same type of bad experience, you can address it. If 20 people comment that the place is amazing, you have people saying great things about you for free. Shoot, contact them!
  • Readers respect what bloggers write, and they take it seriously. Blog readers have a much more intimate and trusting relationship with their favorite bloggers than they do with typical inaccessible print writers.
  • Coverage is instant, or can be. You don’t have to anticipate what to pitch several months out like you do for mags, or even several days or sometimes weeks out for newspapers.
  • A blogger or web writer reaches, typically, a very targeted audience. Print publications are, by nature, typically broad and general in reach. Even special interest publications can never be as niche as a web site or a blog can. So say one day you look at your numbers and realize you’d really love to covet a certain demographic. You can by pitching blogs and web sites who also target that very specific group. And I mean specific… on my Type-A Mom site, for example, you can target a mom editor to write about subjects as specific as bed rest, green parenting, 40-something moms or moms of college-aged kids.
  • Here’s my personal favorite as an SEO maniac. Every time someone writes about your site online and links to it, be it a blogger or a web news site or whatever, that is a gift of Google juice. What that means is, essentially, Google looks at which web sites like YOUR web site. If it’s a lot, then that is a major factor in how often you show up in searches. If it’s not too many, you might even get beat out by an SEO-savvy blogger who writes about your company instead. I’m thinking you don’t want that. Print coverage does nothing to boost your Google PageRank, or how cool Google thinks your site is.

If you don’t believe me, read this amazing post that asks Are Bloggers Media? Here’s an excerpt:

“…the question of whether bloggers are media is moot. Bloggers are DIFFERENT from the mainstream media.  They are smart, expert, passionate, independent, talented, and cantankerous.  They have their own agenda, whereas journalists (while they share many of the traits listed above) are beholden to a publisher’s agenda. More to the point: whatever else ya call them, bloggers are influential.”

And believe me, the last thing you want is the wrath of an influential blogger. So when you blow off or snub a web writer, you are rolling the dice that you could be  the subject of a major PR disaster.

Photo of web writing, © Ginny Austin

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About the author: Kelby Carr (522 Posts)

Kelby Carr is the founder and publisher of Type-A Parent. She also is the organizer of the Type-A Parent Conference. She is the author of Pinterest For Dummies and Pinterest Marketing For Dummies. You can follow her on Twitter at @typeamom and circle her on Google+.

 

Comments

  1. Sommer-GreenandCleanMom

    September 10, 2008

    Bravo! Bravo! Here is my favorite line:
    Pay close attention now, because you will love this one: PRINT WRITERS read blogs and web sites. That’s where they get lots of story ideas.

    My close friend writes for print and she reads what I write and gets ideas! Rude but true. So get a clue PR people and companies.

    Sommer-GreenandCleanMoms last blog post..Does Mommy Sleep?

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  2. OhCaptain

    September 10, 2008

    OK. To play devil’s advocate here: are all bloggers media? Should all bloggers be treated as media at all times? Can I get a press pass to every Minnesota Twins home game because I write for around 3 blogs regularly?

    As a blogger myself, I consider myself a form of media. I write to entertain, inform, vent and sometimes confess, but I’m not sure I belong in the Twins press box day in and day out. Any moron can go to blogspot and sign up for a blog.

    So, how do these old school companies determine which bloggers are worthy and which ones are not? I don’t even suppose to have an answer to this question, I just ask it for the purpose of clarity.

    You are a successful blogger and a very good writer, you probably do qualify for ‘media’ status, but for some schmuck working in a PR firm, she may never have heard of you. Not because she’s stupid, but because she’s never heard of you.

    I certainly have no idea how to answer these questions, but it seems to me that just because we are bloggers, doesn’t mean that companies need to treat us like print media. It’s much easier to tell who they are.

    Guess that’s my two cents.

    OhCaptains last blog post..Ode to Weasel Momma

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  3. Rick

    September 10, 2008

    Web 2.0 for disasters Citizen Emergency Preparedness Academy is looking for volunteer leaders, Join a eCommunity Emergency Response Team (eCERT) today, http://www.twitter.com/ecert

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  4. Cathy Larkin WebSavvyPR

    September 10, 2008

    Kelby,

    Your post is right on the money, many PR folks don’t “get” the web. I am ann independent PR consultant, and recent blogger & Twitterer who is diving into Social Media, after nibbling around the edges for a year. I may stumble, but I’m learning every day – using new media for myself, and learning to use it 4 my clients.

    Many PR folks and organizations resist reaching out to bloggers. One- they don’t quite understand how it all works; Two- as Geoff Livingston at Podcamp Philly 2008 said, many companies fear giving up control. Three-they don’t know the stats – one way to prove your credentials is to show them webhits, RSS subsrcibers#’s, and twitter followers – oh right, all except the 1st one may be a foreign language to them.

    To me, a blogger is very similar to a freelance writer, or reporter, and a blog community creator is like an editor. One difference from a FL writer is that I can easily check a blogger’s clips on-line by just reading their blog. When I worked for a CVB, there were some FL writers who got a bad rep for attending FAM (familiarization) trips, then never writing about it. But that’s par for the course. But the number of bloggers has exploded, and free tickets can add to costs. I did like knowing when someone used our images, but we had a simple “give us your e-mail and website,” to help track those uses.

    Granted, some blogger’s audiences may be smaller than some print publications, but often their readers are more interested – a blogger may reach people who are more likely to take action. That is who I want to hear about my organization – I say make it easy for bloggers to get the word out bout your business/organization.

    Thanks for writing this thought provoking post. I’m starting a new podcast – asking bloggers about good and bad PR interactions. When I get the 1st few posted, Ill let you know, and maybe we can do one over the phone. Sorry for the long comment, but you got me thinking!

    @CathyWebSavvyPR (twitter ID)

    Cathy Larkin WebSavvyPRs last blog post..Cathy Larkin WebSavvyPR Tip 1

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  5. To Think Is To Create

    September 10, 2008

    With all the free advertising that is available for PR peeps, combined with the infinite “reach”, I can’t really see why there’s even a discussion of “worthiness”. If the pass is for something like box tickets, it only takes a little bit of homework (i.e. reading the blog or even asking about traffic/twitter followers) to confirm the blogger in question is “worthy”.

    Since I do write online for various outlets (newspaper, magazine and review website) that make me “worthy”, not to mention my personal blog, I am very cognizant of who treats me as legit media and who is clueless. I frankly don’t have time to promote companies and sites that are so antiquated that I need to school them. As a freelancer, my time is money.

    However, those that *are* with the times and care about creating a biz relationship, can quickly gain my loyalty and will see my sweet side instead of that “cantankerous” side (as pr squared so aptly put it).

    `Arianne (ToThink on Twitter)

    P.S. Rockin post.

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  6. Gerry

    September 11, 2008

    @Kelby and @Cathy; bravo and I also look at online PR as key to longterm reputation management – gone in an instant and there forever. Gerry @prdisasters

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  7. Create a Website

    May 8, 2009

    Let’s not talk about PR. Just here for and advanced greeting.

    Happy Mother’s Day to a Techie Mom like you!

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