When I worked for a newspaper in New Jersey almost 18 years ago, we had one computer in the office connected to the Internet. One.
Now I have five Internet-connected devices just at my own desk. The day’s conversations, reactions, tweets, posts, live streams, snaps, Instagrams, and other content flood my screens with potential story angles and potential media opportunities moment by moment.
That’s the problem Greg Galant set out to solve three years ago. CEO of Sawhorse Media, makers of Muck Rack and The Shorty Awards, Greg saw that technology was going too far in PR. He likens it to McDonald’s focusing on its ability to serve billions and billions. One kind of burger for all.
You see this misguided brand of PR all the time. Reps download a massive list of journalist names and emails, then blast out the same message to all of them at once. I call this the spray and pray approach. Sometimes you get a handful of replies, “but often it’s none,” says Greg.
The cost of a bad, unsolicited, poorly targeted pitch is your reputation. Journalists remember when PR people waste their time, especially when it’s with something like this:
rookie error pr emails are the greatest pic.twitter.com/POWv7gUMKn
— Hannah Ongley (@hannahongley) November 23, 2015
Greg’s philosophy is slow PR — similar to the slow food movement. It means being more careful and selective about who you reach out to, and how you do it.
The Muck Rack platform Greg and his team created lends a hand by tracking, filtering, and analyzing journalists’ conversations and coverage of the news in real time on Twitter, as well as the topics they’ve focused on in their stories. It’s a tool for both journalists and those of us in PR.
For PR pros, it helps you do three things: find the right journalist, monitor your mentions in the press and social media, and report the impact of media coverage.
But technology is only as good as its user. So I caught up with Greg to talk about how PR people can do a better job connecting with journalists, what the media is looking for, and how technology can help.
WILL THE BLAST METHOD — MASS EMAILS SENT TO JOURNALISTS — STILL USED BY SOME PUBLIC RELATIONS PRACTITIONERS EVER GO AWAY?
WHAT ABOUT PRESS RELEASES? ARE THEY STILL RELEVANT?
WHAT DO YOU THINK JOURNALISTS WANT INSTEAD OF A PRESS RELEASE?
WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE REASON JOURNALISTS WILL REJECT A PITCH?
LET’S TALK ABOUT NEWS HACKING, REVERSE ENGINEERING A STORY TO INJECT YOUR CLIENT OR COMMENTARY. HAVE YOU SEEN A PARTICULARLY WELL DONE NEWS HACK?
WHAT DO JOURNALISTS THINK ABOUT MUCK RACK?
Muck Rack continues to evolve from the philosophy of slow PR. The most recent updates allow users to:
- Find journalists to pitch based on keywords from articles they’ve written, tweets, and links shared.
- Monitor social and traditional media with email alerts to discover mentions of companies and keywords in the news.
- Create and organize media lists of journalists for pitching, outreach, and monitoring.
- Automatically track and analyze company and competitor coverage on social media with full campaign coverage reports and individual article reports.
Muck Rack occupies prime real estate in my computer browser as a must-have-open kind of application. Twitter is a huge universe, a roaring river of information. It’s also the only real early warning system to news and conversations that may become news. Muck Rack further refines all that information to help you do your job better.
Now that it’s so easy to contact anyone, slow PR and Muck Rack give us a more selective and successful way to connect the right story with the right journalist.