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December 8, 2009
Push Aside (But Don't Scrap) that Rolodex

Don't scrap your Rolodex (or whatever other lengthy list of reporters you might have built up over the years). Just realize that having a good story to tell is more important than the number of reporters you supposedly have to tell it to. There's a changing array of outlets. You have to find the ones interested in and best able to circulate your story. That's the timely advice of Shel Holtz in a blog post on "The Marginalization of Rolodex PR."

"Good PR is not, in fact, about the number of relationships you have developed with media contacts," Holtz advises. "It never has been and, as we navigate our way through the shifting media seas, it is less important than it ever was. Getting people to tell your story is not about the relationships you have with reporters. It's about the quality of the story and how well it aligns with the reporter's beat and interests."

This is really good advice for PR, marketing, and product-development folks alike. In uncertain economic times, especially, customers who are looking for value for their money or extra depth in their relationships. The more utility you can build into a package, the better. You have to explain it well, make its value content clear, before considering who to tell.

This is especially so, unfortunately, now that editorial staffs are shrinking,

Holtz notes. "The changing nature of journalism, including the rise of blogging and citizen journalism, has even further marginalized the value of the Rolodex. In a post on Rebooting the News, Dave Winer suggests that journalism training could become part of everybody’s education, not just those who enroll in journalism school:

'"In the future," Winer writes, "everyone can be a journalist, and the people who will be most valuable are those who are experts in areas outside journalism. That means, to me, that everyone should get a basic journalism education, in the same way it’s a good idea for us to take a semester of math, English lit, chemistry, or physics.'"

That's an arresting sidelight to Holtz's basic perception that the product ,and the message you develop to present it, are more important than the lists of newshounds you've built up over the years, even the relationships you have with familiar writers. There's a new universe of relationships to be plumbed, once you have a good product or situation to sell.   



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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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