I have been reading Ben Silverman, who pens an e-newsletter for e-releases PR Fuel since at least March of 2004 — well before I even knew there were bloggers writing about the topic of public relations.
I like Silverman’s quips and strong opinions, as well as his insights as a former journalist, and I still read his column when it appears in my e-mail. In fact, his is the only one that I read via e-mail. As an aside, e-releases doesn't offer RSS feed for its PR Fuel features. I am sure they don't because they are trying to capture e-mail for marketing purposes, but get with it e-releases! That said, you can make your own RSS feed of the page with a resource I found out about yesterday called PonyFish (thanks to Todd Defren).
Silverman's current column called Read and React caught my attention. It seems that in the wake of such incidents as the very public fight GM has had on its blogs with The New York Times columnist and author Thomas Friedman, and subsequently the NYT opinion page, “old-fashioned” media relations practices are being pushed to the wayside in favor of attack e-mails and blog posts.
That might possible work if you are GM, but if you are like most of us, a dose of Emily Post is probably a better strategy.
As a part of a deal Silverman's company, Indie Research, has with Yahoo!Finance, he is penning a weekly column he describes as a look at “at strange disclosures, bad press releases, and corporate behavior I find intriguing (read: wrong)” — ala the Bad Pitch Blog.
Apparently, these columns prompted an avalanche of e-mail that were less than persuasive and certainly won’t affect the outcome of the bad press. Silverman recommends nine tips will give you better traction when confronting your critics in the media. They are all predicated on the golden rule, “Do unto others and you would have them do unto you.” I will share them with you here, slightly edited for brevity, but I recommend you also read them in full at Silverman's PR Fuel column.
Silverman’s Nine Tips for Confronting Critics
1. Include a clear, non-confrontational subject line
2. Address the recipient of the email by name
3. Specify if the communication is on or off the record
4. State who you are up-front to give a context for your complaint
5. State clearly why you are writing: to correct facts, to offer an alternative opinion
6. Clearly outline any inaccurate information and provide the correct information with facts to back it up
7. Keep emotional rhetoric out of it
8. Offer to follow-up with further conversation via phone or e-mail
9. Be sure to include your contact information, name and title.
Update: Ben and I just had a telephone conversation, and here is a link to some of his columns on Yahoo Finance, you can draw the conclusion about whom he might have been talking about in his article.