Social media over-sharing: journalists, you should know better.

Posted on: 2012-09-10 in Steaming Barrel   |   Tagged: journalists oversharing twitter

TopLine's Hannah Stacey @hanstacey has an axe to grind about Twitter over-sharing

This blog post is addressed to all the perpetrators of journalistic smuggery on social media. If you’re reading this as a journalist and theatrically rolling your eyes, thinking ‘Bless her, silly little lamb, she doesn’t know what she’s getting in to’, I implore you to read on. This post is almost definitely about you.

I realise that I’m already skating on thin ice, so before I start I’ll throw in a couple of disclaimers.  I’m not talking about all journalists here (certainly, this would only be indulging in the very thing I’m complaining about). Neither am I interested in becoming embroiled in finer points of the ongoing fracas between hacks and PROs, mostly because it bores me shitless and I have better things to be doing, like watching clips of dancing Chihuahuas on YouTube or antagonising @lukebudka. I also accept that there are two sides to every coin; that there are some people working in public relations who have all the common sense and acumen of a gnat, and who should not be let anywhere near a telephone in the name of their client.

So we’ve established as a society that over-sharing on social media is something for angsty teenagers, trolls and the emotionally unhinged. So why do some journalists (and this is only some, but enough that it pops up in my Twitter feed regularly) think it’s acceptable to part with good manners and take to Twitter every time a PRO gets on their goat?

Having an apoplectic fit over the fact some poor intern nervously called you with something completely irrelevant just isn’t cool. Okay you might be infuriated, but it makes you look a bit mental. Likewise, self-righteously retweeting another journalist’s gripe with a PRO doesn’t make a helpful point. Neither does it make them any better at their job. But it does make everyone think you’re a sanctimonious asshat. After all, it’s your day job to come up with interesting content – that’s probably why people follow you on Twitter. Why not treat them to something interesting instead of banal whinging about a trivial semantic error in a press release?

Any good PR professional would never dream of taking to Twitter to complain if a contact, client, or EVEN a journalist was giving them gyp – that’s just bad manners. Yet there are some members of the press who think that publically slamming the whole PR profession in such a puerile way is an okay thing to do. Worse still are those who act as though they are performing some sort honourable duty and engage in all that self-congratulatory smuggery and mutual backslapping that makes me want to heave.

Let’s resign ourselves to the fact that, just like with Chris Brown and Drake, or Frankie Boyle and whoever he’s chosen to pick a fight with this week, trying to come to any sort of resolution to this feud is only ever going to be futile. We should all stop squabbling and just get on with being better at our jobs. In fact, I’m sure that’s what most of us try to do. Jessica Twentyman, for example, has written a great no-nonsense but extremely polite and entirely sensible PR briefing about how she likes to be pitched. As have several others, and why we have a section on this blog dedicated to interviews with journalists.

You journos are knocking bad PR. You're knocking the methods by which some people approach you with news or opportunities (albeit ones you think are not worthy of your attention). You pity the client that sinks a four or five figure retainer every month for this kind of representation. Now, I'm sure what you're really doing (in all your uncondescending wisdom and charity) is teaching PROs by chastising them; being cruel to be kind.

But have you considered the way in which you publically tar the PR industry with the ‘incompetence’ brush on Twitter, where the profession (which does actually provide you with useful material now and again) finds itself encircled by the jabbing boots of a holier-than-thou journoclique’s retweets and the rest of your followers are left yawning? Have you ever considered how, in doing so, you represent yourself, and stopped to think: "This itself is the worst kind of PR, and we're doing ourselves and the journalistic profession a disservice"?

No? Thought not.

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About this blog

The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog was founded by B2B PR specialist Heather Baker, who runs video production and corporate animation agency TopLine Film and digital PR and SEO agency  TopLine Comms. The B2B PR Blog takes contributions from sensible industry folk with something interesting to say.


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