May 30 2008
As Public Relations folks continue to embrace bloggers and treat us more like press, I get more and more press releases and opportunities to talk to the people at security companies. I enjoy getting this information and appreciate talking to these companies as an analyst/press. But I have to laugh sometimes when they pull stupid stunts, like putting the phrase ‘Under NDA’ in the middle of a presentation. If I didn’t sign any paperwork, the only thing obligating me to that Non-Disclosure Agreement is common courtesy, something PR people need to be very careful of expecting as they dip their toes in the blogosphere.
Something that PR people, as well as bloggers, are still figuring out is the exact nature of the relationship between the two groups. PR professionals are used to building relationships with reporters and knowing exactly who they’re talking to. With bloggers they don’t have that relationship, they don’t even necessarily know the name of the person they’re dealing with. On the flip side, most bloggers have no idea how to react to invitations and press releases from PR agencies. The reactions can range from completely ignoring PR to maliciously using the information provided. I suspect most of us lean towards the ‘ignore them and they’ll go away’ camp.
I used to ignore most press releases, but I started changing that recently. Blogging is about communication and learning, both of which are the exact thing PR people are trying to provide. I’ve started responding to some press releases, letting the PR folks know if I find their press releases relevant or not. I’m trying to build some of the same relationships ‘real’ reporters have and making PR aware of my interests is part of that.
But the relationship has to go both ways; PR folks need to communicate little things like the expectation of not releasing product information prior to the products release date. In this case, it’s not a big deal: the product will be out next Monday. But when I saw the NDA statement cleverly slipped into the presentation, part of me wanted to post about it right away just out of spite. Luckily the larger, more responsible part of me decided it’d be a poor treatment of the company.
Bloggers and PR folks have a lot of learning to do about one another. We have to understand that PR professionals have access to a lot of valuable information we might not be able to get elsewhere. PR professionals need to realize that bloggers are not reporters, we don’t have the background a reporter does and in many cases a quick flash of popularity and traffic is more important to us than a ‘relationship’ with a PR firm. If you want something to be under Non-Disclosure Agreement, ask up front if a blogger is willing to respect a verbal NDA. But don’t slip it into a slide in your presentation and expect it to be honored.