18 December 2008

Freak out: Twitter infested by PR

When I first saw that headline from BusinessWeek blogger, Stephen Baker, I prepared myself for the attack PR people often endure from journalists and bloggers who think we're mindless drones trying to sell our souls to get clients into headline news.

On Friday, BusinessWeek online editor, John Byrne, posted all of the BusinessWeek Twitter addresses on his blog. He wrote, "As part of our effort to deeply engage our readers, a good many of us at BusinessWeek have been having great success and fun with Twitter, the hot micro-blogging site that allows users to blog in 140 characters or less... if you are on Twitter, I invite you into our newsroom via my Tweets."

As the crew at BusinessWeek began feeling an uncomfortable number of new followers join their feeds, it wasn't long before they began wondering who was following them and who was stalking. Thank goodness Stephen's post wasn't focused on kicking the already low PR flack.

The social experiment Byrne is running is quite interesting - it's not wholly unlike how outlets like Mashable, ReadWriteWeb and other prominent blogs get their news. With Digg still gaining popularity (no, it's not dead) and the New York Times syndicating like crazy, it's pretty smart for BusinessWeek to move in this direction and open up, too.

I noticed one reader commented on November 22: "John, I love that you're on Twitter and Facebook, and all over the Web. It keeps BW fresh and relevant for digital kids like me:)"

It's fascinating to see what's happening in journalism right now and how our media relations are constantly changing as a result. It's not uncommon for me to pitch journalists based on their tweets – but what's wrong with that? Doesn't that make my content all the more relevant?

By the same token, if I see a journalist is busy or having an off day, I can tell thanks to Twitter. Also, there are actually quite a few bloggers who can't stop tweeting and spamming my TweetDeck. So, everyone benefits by pushing out their content in 140 characters or less, driving traffic to their sites and getting a piece of the pie. Will be interesting to see what happens as the walls of traditional journalism keep tumbling down.

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