|The Boston Globe's Mixed Bag
By: Mike Bush
Annoyed to hear (presumably on a recurring basis) that readers weren’t receiving their copy of The Boston Globe, the editorial team set out to fix the problem. Taking an “if you want it done right, do it yourself” approach, the writers and editors spent Saturday night delivering papers themselves. Brian Stelter has the details.
When I first heard this was happening (on Twitter…where else does news get broken and discovered?), my out of context thought was “Wow…headlines should be something like ‘Globe Writers Throw Globe Delivery Folks Under the Bus,’” but looking into it further, this was about making things right when a vendor had failed the Globe and its customer. To me, this is an important distinction. If the finance team walks into my office and tells me they can do PR better than me, well, them’s fighting words. If the finance team calls the local press and sends it across Twitter that they can do PR better than me…well…it’s a whole different thing.
The second message I gathered from the episode: We may have hired the wrong vendor, but we’re working to fix it. And from a #custserv standpoint, I get it and I like it.
From a PR perspective, though, this is a mixed bag.
On one hand, it’s positive press for a newspaper. Seriously…when it the last time we’ve seen that? With Twitter handles like @themediaisdying and websites dedicated to the rapidly changing, shrinking traditional media landscape, this has to feel like a win.
On the other hand, this initiative shows a huge, gaping flaw in the way some media is delivered today. Yes, it’s great that people are getting their newspapers, but do we still need newspapers? Matthew Ingram, with Fortune, asks if it might be cheaper to just give everyone inexpensive tablets. It very well might…although I don’t know if that’s the answer either.
On a third hand (a foot?), whoever in the Globe thought this up can come work for me any time. This was a PR Stunt that went exceptionally well, generated strong press, and took advantage of all of the Globe’s assets; especially, in this case, a large number of reporters with a huge following across social media. Of course, the irony of this is that “success” is being driven and defined by a hashtag (#bostonglobedelivery)...the essence of which is the very thing that will inevitably lead to a world without hardcopy newspapers.
I think The Globe’s writing team had the right motivations in mind when they undertook this initiative. As a group, they do a terrific job engaging their audiences (again, especially on Twitter), and I think they generally care about their craft and their readers. I just hope that the same “top administrators” who are being tasked with figuring things out on the delivery front also have an eye on what’s next for the future of the…will it still be called a “paper”?
Mike Bush is a PR and Marketing freelancer with more than a dozen years of experience in the field. Find him on and connect Twitter @mikebush or at www.mikebush.nyc.
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