More Dirt

I want to re-visit yesterday’s item for a couple of reasons: 1) It needs further clarification, and 2) The manner in which the news was disseminated piqued my interest. As Techdirt’s CEO Michael Masnick explained in his follow-up e-mail to this blogger, his new service is not about monitoring the conversation, but rather about tapping, for enterprises, bloggers for their insights and expertise.

I’ve written here on many occasions how the PR pros have grappled with finding the most effective means for engaging bloggers on behalf of their clients’ products, services or issues. PR/marketing types also have learned to mine the blogosphere as an aggregated bellwether of current public opinion or trends, let alone a precursor of what may arrive in the mainstream media. For the former, the answer is to engage citizen journos in an honest, two-way and transparent manner. (Gee, that just may work with mainstream journalists too!) For the latter, examples of companies that monitor and measure the mood of “the conversation” are referenced in yesterday’s post.

Techdirt’s new line of business, from what I understand, is seeking and will compensate bloggers who agree to offer their expert opinions to businesses on a given topic. When Verisign wanted some insights into the issue of net neutrality, it retained the Techdirt Insight Community to tap its resource of registered expert bloggers to provide it. Obviously, the bigger the sample, the greater the odds of obtaining that deep and specific knowledge being sought.

The company therefore is presently seeking bloggers to sign on (only experts need apply). It still reminds me of Web 1.0’s Abuzz, which built a community whose “expert’ members were tapped to answer community members’ questions based on the in-depth profiles they provided. While Abuzz was c-to-c and TIC is c-to-b, the basic concept remains.

The second reason for re-visiting Techdirt lies in the company’s press announcement itself. Recently the editor of the influential blog wrote a caustic missive to the PR community titled: “Attention All PR People: Stop Sending Us Press Releases.” It went on to chastise our like for spamming journalists (and him) with unsolicited press releases. It wasn’t very nice, and was condescendingly reminiscent of the Web 1.0 tech beat writers’ exasperation with the inane stuff that filled (and undoubtedly continue to fill) their e-mailboxes. Frankly, I can’t blame them.

So guess what? To announce its new business offering yesterday, Techdirt’s PR operatives sent out to the media, unsolicited, five documents, as PDF file attachments no less, including the news release. What am I missing here? Short e-mails with links (only) to the press materials should suffice.

But then again, as a highly trafficked and linked-to blog, simply writing about it should also do the trick.

Correction: I have been informed by Techdirt that it did not send unsolicited press materials to reporters. Those that did receive materials requested them after being pre-briefed on the story. Geesh, this blogger can’t seem to get it right! Oh well, there goes half of this post’s raison d’etre. Mike’s “caustic” message is still a good wake-up call for PR pros.