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The good, the bad and the ugly about dealing with PRs!

By Enrico Signoretti, independent IT consultant, advisor and passionate blogger at www.juku.it


I officially started my blog, Juku, in 2010. To my surprise, it is already turning 4 in a few months! (I must, admit, up to now, I had never thought about it). At that time we (Fabio and I, my then-partner) had the idea of starting an independent technology blog Juku was launched and has been doing very well, and has now become our showcase. In fact, thanks to the success of the blog and other social media activities, I've started a series of traveling seminars and, two years ago, I finally opened my own independent advisory firm (juku consulting).

As my experience grew, I learned a couple of things about PRs and their attitudes: they can help you do your job but, sometimes, they can be a pain in the neck. Here's why.

First of all, I’m a blogger
It’s incredible, but sometimes I still have to clarify this to my interlocutors: I’m neither a journalist nor an analyst. I’m a blogger! From my POV there is a slight difference: a journalist is paid to report news. An analyst is paid to research and analyse (I'm being polite here, it’s hard to say what an analyst actually does nowadays! Sometimes they act more like marketeers… but that’s another story).

A blogger is a new entity which falls somewhere in between… or is totally different. Sometimes they are more like a journalist, at other times they are more like an analyst a blogger is not paid to report news and he/she doesn’t do analytical research (not the kind of research that analysts should do at least). A blogger's ground lies somewhere in the middle. He/she is indeed an industry pundit and has some influence on decision makers but, at the same time, their analysis comes mainly from direct experience in the field rather than from sterile numbers. Sometimes I think of a blogger as a “journanalyst 2.0” and this is why people like bloggers (and it's why my clients hire me as an advisor… or at least that's what they tell me).

The good
First of all, good PRs can be very helpful. I see them as the people who can facilitate relations between me and the vendors that I usually deal with for my job. They feed me news before it is generally available and they can swiftly organize briefings with companies when I need an update or information to verify my experience in the field. Some of them are very smart and helpful in most cases they can be compared to the oil in the gearbox.

The bad
But some of them are bad at their jobs. They send me tons of emails about products or companies nowhere near the fields I cover. Why do they do that? You know, it’s written everywhere: I primarily cover storage, virtualization and cloud computing (in this order!), period! They should know that (and know me!). I know, we are all here to do business, but the PRs who are able to establish a friendly relationship are the best and the ones whom I prefer. These are the PRs who read my blog, who know what I'm talking about, and feed me the right info.

The ugly
Sometimes the expectations of a PR are off the chart. That’s because PRs often confuse bloggers with journalists and they expect news articles. I’m not a journalist and I do not report the news as it happens. I’m simply not interested (and not paid) to do so. It’s not my job. Sometimes I have to gather several news items to produce one single post, while at other times I use the news items only to support my discussion… a process which can sometimes take several weeks.

The value of a blogger, as an influencer (I hate the word influencer BTW), does not solely rely on the articles/posts, but also on the fact that they know about the latest news and technologies. Opportunities to share that information are endless and are not directly related to the blog.

Just to close the circle
I love working with PR/ARs, when they connect me to the right people and bring value to the conversation. It helps me to do my job and brings value to my blog readers, social network communities and my clients.

It's a pain when they ask about news coverage or for some kind of visibility (even if they are speaking on behalf of their clients). It’s hard to measure how influential I am (is there a scientific way to actually do that yet?), and the worst way to go about is by counting the number of articles I write about a given vendor or topic.


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