Constructive - not destructive - guidance for social PR professionals

While Michael Arrington continues his crusade against PR professionals, here's some constructive feedback for social PR folks, courtesy of Rafe Needleman.
Written by Jennifer Leggio, Contributor

It wouldn't be a Wednesday if a social media A-lister wasn't harping on public relations.

Yesterday, yet another public relations meme erupted throughout the blogosphere, thanks to the pot-stirrer himself, Michael Arrington. I'm doing my best to close my eyes and wish it all away, wait for the smoke to clear and for Arrington to remember that the silver platter his stories get delivered on are often carried by PR people.

Happily, before this noise erupted I was already engaging with Rafe Needleman, highly regarded journalist and editor of CNET's Webware, about his Pro PR Tips blog. Needleman launched Pro PR Tips as a humorous yet reality infused wake-up call for PR professionals who commit many sins against the media.

Needleman posts about every 24 hours and since the blog's inception in April he's racked up 95 tips.  He said he'll continue to do so until he hits 100 -- and that 100th tip will be his most important lesson for PR people. After 100 (any day now) he will still post tips but he's done with his daily commitment. He'll provide tips "as events dictate."

I did ask Needleman if he's seen a difference in PR behavior since he launched the blog.

"The PR people who read it are self-conscious. Tough," he said. "True story: One guy came in really nervous and joking about not getting into the blog. In the first 10 minutes he made two (maybe three) completely new blunders. Classic."

So while Arrington continues his "Conan the Destructor" crusade against PR professionals, let's take a look at a handful of my favorite Needleman PR lessons:

Tip #94: Free advice

Sure, I’ll give you free, off-the-record advice. But if I really knew how to build and market a technology product, you think I’d be doing this?

Tip #84: Dirty Secret

Every now and then, press releases work.

Tip #79: Be seen

A pretty girl alone at a bar shines like a beacon. But at a beauty contest she blends in to the scenery. So tell me again why you plan to launch at Demo?

Tip #64: As opposed to…?

Any pitch that starts, “In today’s tough economy…” gets ignored.

Tip #61: Do I look like a college student?

Don’t send me pitches in Facebook. You know my email.

Tip #46: Uh-huh

If we’re doing a demo via phone and Webex, at least 25% of the time that you’re talking, I’m reading my email.

Tip #39: Always

“Are you on deadline?” No, I’m filing my nails. Of course I’m on deadline. What do you want?

Tip #33: Guest list

People I want to hear a pitch from, in descending order: CEO, CTO, VP Product Development, Janitor, Brand Marketing Manager.

Tip #29: OMG

A-list bloggers are like angry, spoiled schoolgirls. Calibrate your pitches accordingly.

Tip #22: Don’t make me use LinkedIn

The CEO’s email address should be on the company’s site. Unless he or she is afraid of publicity. And customers.

No excuses! It’s 2008. They make spam filters that work now.

Tip #14: Not BFFs

Dear PR person,

We didn’t “work together” back in 1999. You pitched me. It was beautiful, but don’t make it more than it is.

Tip #1: Psych!

If you ask me what’s a good time to call, I will tell you a time when I know I am not available.

Check out the Pro PR Tips blog for 83 other tips.

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