The Continuing Adventures of Google's Inconsistent PR Team

By Steve Bryant  |  Posted 2006-09-14 Print this article Print

Google has a public relations problem. Its PR team seems incapable of dealing professionally -- at least on a consistent basis -- with a lot of my confederates in the media corps.

Don't believe me? Ask Robert Scoble. He signed up for the Google Press Center to receive advance notice on Google news. But instead of getting the news ahead of time so he could prepare coverage, he found out about the recent Intuit deal on TechCrunch. Why bother setting press expectations when you fail to meet them?

Scoble isn't the only one who's had that problem. Check out this e-mail, forwarded to me from a fellow journalist.

-----Original Message-----
From: XXXXXXX [mailto: XXXXXXX]
Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2006 9:11:00 AM
Subject: RE: Explore History as it Happened: Google News Now Has Archive Search

Why wasn't I offered a pre-briefing on this news?

From: XXXXXXX [mailto:]
Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2006 10:55:00 AM
Subject: RE: Explore History as it Happened: Google News Now Has Archive Search


My apologies -- our time and resources were limited on this one, and we
weren't able to get to all the reporters and outlets we usually try to

Please let me know if there are any questions I can answer for you on
Archive Search.



-----Original Message-----
Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2006 11:29:00 AM
Subject: RE: Explore History as it Happened: Google News Now Has Archive Search

Unfortunately, I don't buy your explanation.

To understand why I'm so disappointed in your reply, consider how often you and your colleagues have just flat out misled the press in the past about availability.

You tell me there was no time to send me an email?

In the time it took you to write the response below, the following could have happened: You send me an email saying hey, we got an announcement tomorrow, I can't set you up with an exec but I can get you something on it. Can you agree to an embargo? I would have replied "yes", and then you send the press release.

There's plenty of other examples (including how you blacklisted CNET for a few months last year.)

My favorite recent example was when your colleagues held an invite-only press conference before Eric Schmidt, following an address he gave in San Jose.

I wasn't invited, for two reasons: 1. My organization was covered (by inviting a columnist no less, not a reporter) and 2. There was limited room.

Well, the capacity of the room where the press conference was held was 160 people. Google invited about 20.

People who were invited learned how Google stiffed others, and ended up telling anybody who wasn't invited where the press conference was. So rather than enjoy their exclusives, they gave it up just to stick y'all in the shorts.

Funny how when people started showing up at the door, there was suddenly ample room for those crashing the party.

Add this all up and the reality, painfully obvious, is Google's wedded to just a few publications that have treated it well in the past. The
rest of us can take a hike.

I wish that would change.

I remind you that XXXXXXX, my immediate boss, has a few million readers a day, while XXXXXXX often picks up my stories, has a few million more readers than XXXXXXX. That's not to mention XXXXXXX, which I also feed stories to.

This is the audience Google needs to reach.



To all those about to send me hate mail: For my part, the public relations staff that I've met and worked with at Google have been very nice, and, most of the time, helpful. There's been an occasion or two where they've been more opaque than necessary, but that's the case with most large companies. They're often inconsistent too: Sometimes I get a pre-news announcement, sometimes I don't.

I understand that a company has to play favorites sometimes. But that's usually because either 1) the reporter has you over a barrel or 2) the PR team wants to place the news in a specific publication. When it comes to pre-briefings and conversations with the CEO at a conference, what's the excuse?

I'd just like to see some more consistency. Otherwise, we lowly journalists -- who vacillate between monstrous narcissism and abject self-loathing anyway -- will end up writing more stories from that nice bar down the street with a wireless connection. And really. I spend enough time there already.

I don't think we're the center of the universe, but yo: Where's the love?

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