How to battle Facebook with the Media

Nathaniel White-Joyal

There are a million different kinds of journalists, they are all experts in something.  Most journalists are just like us, slaves to a deadline.  Some, have the luxury of taking their time and developing well researched and documented pieces.  Others are beat writers and have to get a story out every day.  Understanding what kind of journalist you are pitching to makes a big difference.  

I have journalists I work with, who have the opportunity to take their time with a story. Throughout the development of the story, I feed them a little email, with pieces. A bit of a slow drip. When the story is complete, I end up having a slight hand in how it was told. It doesn’t always work like that, sometimes they come up with their own retelling of the event. I don’t like that as much. I got a little taste of how this can go bad in the battle with the lawyers of facebook.

FBDB

The beat writers who I get to work with don’t have time to really develop a good story and I have to have that ready to go.  They need something they can re-print, re-tell and regurgitate.  I detail the story they way I see it and they bite or they don’t.  They get the quick pitch, then I develop, and push.  It has one unique sentence and their name.  I have to do my research with this group because if I pitch something that isn’t their beat, I get marked as spam and the fun is over.  At least until I use a different email address.  

The facebook incident is a great example of roaring success and abject failure.  Our trademark to the name, Designbook, was contested by Facebook because they felt that it would be confusing.  Now, as flattering as that is, not one person, ever, confused us for facebook.  Our response was to crank up the press machine.  I had some amazing help from my mentor, Lee Schneider and we had a pretty good advantage.  We had time to feed the story to journalists for a little while with a specific launch date to turn on the faucets. It was also helpful that facebook was not interested in publicizing this story.

wsj

When we were ready, we send out a series of pitches along with a more traditional press release to a targeted distribution from PRWEB.  We got hundreds of stories and the Governor of Vermont even wrote a letter to Zuckerberg.  We were really happy with the vast majority of the coverage we got. Ars Technica and the Wall Street Journal did very favorable stories, they told it just how I wanted them to. (http://buff.ly/1l4mu1s, http://buff.ly/1QLlcVp)

ars

The most notable failure of the slow drip process was PandoDaily. They decided we were the bully and that facebooks objection to our trademark applications were completely justified.  They even called one of our founders “self-righteous” and a “fearmonger”.  Not exactly what I was going for. (http://buff.ly/1SC0y8x

pandoimage

At the end of the day, the backlash from PandoDaily was not that bad, except for bills from the therapist.  The momentum we were able to build up with the rush of the press was successful.  Facebook dropped the objection to 3 out of 4 trademarks.  This was not all press, the lawyers for our company played a major role as well, they did an amazing job.  The press did help to sway the tide, and we developed a good reputation with at least a few journalists. I still pitch the guy from PandoDaily.  

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2 thoughts on “How to battle Facebook with the Media

  1. This post helps to understand how interpretation (and ethics) is a major issue regardless of technologies and trends. Fast paced journalism without checking facts is a recipe for disaster.
    Also, this post is well design to catch your eye through it

    Like

  2. Wendy

    Nate – loved the layout…made it really easy for me to read and follow. The story you shared about your brand’s fight with FB was really engaging. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

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