TechCrunch Newsflash: “Avoid PR”

Today I received an email from one of the PR pros in our AirPR community with the headline you see here (TechCrunch Newsflash: “Avoid PR”) as her email subject.

This was her opening line:

“TechCrunch is having a serious identity crisis and needs to own up that they still need relationships with PR folk……ugh.”

Here is the article she to which she was referring: I DARE YOU TO CLICK HERE!

She cited this excerpt as particularly disturbing:

“The answer, as far as I see it, is simple: avoid PR and PR newswires and keep the conversation going naturally. If you’re a founder, either hire a marketing manager internally or do it yourself. If you made something cool, tell us directly. At this point in the game gathering a list of friendly journalists is as easy as visiting 100 or so websites. It didn’t used to be that way. To get access to a newspaper you had to send a letter to an editor that would, inevitably, end up in the trash. Now you can spam a bunch of writers who are hungry to feed that maw.”

After a few emails back and forth between us, she then forwarded me an insightful response from tech startup PR pro Heather Meeker:

“This article is missing a few key points:

1) Marketing managers are hired to handle marketing, not media relations. As someone who has handled both marketing and PR for startups, I can tell you they are two very different disciplines.

2) Even if a marketing manager wants to handle PR, it’s a full time job on its own.

3) Yes, I believe founders should speak directly to the media, but I can tell you they rarely – if ever – have time with all their responsibilities to plan and execute announcements properly.

4) A big part of media relations is networking and building relationships with press in order to share applicable stories for their readers – this is extremely time consuming.

5) This article isn’t about PR – it’s JUST about media relations. PR responsibilities include, but are not limited to: strategy/planning, product/user feedback, events/conferences/speaking engagements, internal communications, investor relations, website/blog, customer service, social media, content creation/development and I could go on and on.

Bottom line: PR is a valuable role and there are a lot of pros out there doing a fantastic job. It’s up to bloggers and reporters to fact check any story properly, whether it comes from a founder, a marketer, a PR person or a press release.”

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PR, which includes media relations, when done well has extreme value and merit. When executed poorly the results are obvious: unhappy journalists and worse, unhappy clients. In the end, however, experiences and preferences are subjective – and for whatever reason, [subjectively] this particular TechCrunch writer (speaking on behalf of the entire staff) sadly doesn’t see the value of PR in terms of its media relations function. As Heather points out, media relations is one spoke in the PR wheel.

What are your thoughts?