PR People: Respond to Fan Sites!

For my recent venture Bad Boy Blog, an unofficial Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment Group (Diddy, Bad Boy Records, Sean John, etc.) fan blog, I have attempted to contact many people at and related to Bad Boy. I have contacted Bad Boy artists, Bad Boy producers, artist management and/or promotion companies, Bad Boy PR people and Atlantic Records PR people (Bad Boy is a part of the Atlantic Records Group, which is in turn a part of Warner Music Group). Most of the initial contact was done back in April.

I didn’t expect much of a response from artists and producers, but most of them did actually respond. I tried to contact three artists and one responded (Nelson). I tried to contact three producers (one of which being an artist counted in the three above) and two responded (Ryan Leslie and Tony Dofat). These are busy people (aren’t we all, of course), but they responded and have made themselves available/said they would do what they could. I’m not going to mention the people who didn’t respond as that isn’t my style – I’m not here to trash anyone specifically or try to draw attention to myself by doing so.

The people that I expected to respond were the artist management/promotion companies and the PR people at the labels. The artist management/promotion companies didn’t really disappoint. I contacted three and heard back from two (Clockwork Entertainment (Jordan McCoy’s management) and Stompin’ Groundz Media Group (Yung Joc’s marketing)) and both of them have been kind, helpful and responsive.

However, the people I expected most to get back with me were the label PR people. And this is where I have been disappointed. Back in April, I e-mailed one person at Atlantic and one person at Bad Boy. These were both recognized PR people and I got their contact information through reputable means, such as at the bottom of label issued press releases, etc. My e-mails didn’t bounce and there was no response from either. It is worth noting that in my e-mails (an example copy of which is included at the bottom of this post, for reference), I said that if I was contacting the wrong person, I apologize and if they could please forward me onto the right person, I would appreciate it. Still, no response.

If it were not for someone at one of the companies mentioned above forwarding my e-mail to someone at Bad Boy, I wouldn’t have been in contact with any Bad Boy PR person. But, she did. She said to e-mail her again if no one got with me in a week. No one did. So, I begrudgingly (not wanting to seem like a pest) e-mailed her again and she forwarded it again. This time, it got a response. It is my understanding that the person she forwarded it to, forwarded it to someone else who was either an intern or at a similarly lower level, which is certainly fine by me. I’m after information. As long as someone has access to that information, I’m happy to be in contact with them, whoever they may be.

So, I had been in contact with this person as needed up until a little over two weeks ago. At that point, he informed me that he had left Bad Boy and he gave me the e-mail for someone who he said was the director of promotion for Bad Boy. I thanked him and wished him well. In the meantime, I was on the MySpace list for someone who supposedly distributes audio to DJs for Bad Boy (among other things), so I e-mailed him (outside of MySpace) to see if he could help me (we have a promotional audio box). That was June 10. No response. I e-mailed the contact (he said it was the “director of promotion”) that my previous contact had given me on June 13. No response on that, yet, either. Maybe he’ll get back to me eventually, but it’s been 10 days. I can’t help but get the feeling that I am simply being disregarded and that if not for that nice lady who passed my info on – that I’d not have been in contact with anyone. I cannot believe that from the 4 label PR/marketing people that I have contacted personally, myself, I have not received a response.

If Microsoft, Fox, O’Reilly, McGraw Hill, etc. feel I am worth responding to – why don’t Atlantic and Bad Boy? This troubles me from a business perspective and here is why.

PR people need to respond to fan sites like mine. They need to. PR people need to respond to press, which is what fan sites must be considered, but that’s not the point. The fact is that fan sites are better than press. Why? Because they are fan sites. They are in your corner. They are supporting you and what you do. They are spending money (the amount of money that I have personally spent on Bad Boy releases, Sean John clothing and related things is really mind boggling, up into the thousands of dollars), they are keeping your buzz going. Fan sites like mine are continual good press. They give you the benefit of the doubt, they want you to do well. Unlike some fan sites out there, my sites condemn the illegal distribution of music. We want Bad Boy releases to sell well. We respect the rights of everyone involved. We are helping them in every way, hurting them in no way. This is big. This is why they should respond to fan sites. Or, at least, to any that presents itself in a professional manner.

So, why do I want to be in contact with PR people? The biggest reason is responsible journalism. I really do not like reporting on rumor. I like going to informed sources – I like knowing the truth, reporting accurately and squashing rumors. Sometimes I have to report on rumor, but if at all possible, I do not want to. I want to contact the company and get their response. Is this rumor true/untrue? Is this happening or not? What are the official release dates for so and so? And on and on. I want the right information so that I can pass it on to my readers, who are Bad Boy fans.

Another reason is promotional materials and PR mailing lists. Press releases, promos, whatever. I want to know what’s up at the company so I can pass it on, which increases their buzz. We also have a promotional audio player at Bad Boy Blog. This is cool to me because it only features audio that is given to me by people who have the right to do so. PR people, artist management, artists and producers themselves. We don’t just accept audio from anyone. We’re all about respecting the rights of everyone involved, as I said.

I could understand not hearing back from artists and producers. Their job is producing content and that is what they spend their time doing (they need to be a part of the promotional process, as well, of course). But, I cannot understand the lack of response from PR and marketing people. Their full time job is to promote and if they are not responding to fan sites, websites, blogs – whatever it is that caused them to decide not to respond to me – they are not maximizing the potential of the internet.

Here is an example of an e-mail that I sent out:

Dear Mr. (Last Name),

My name is Patrick O’Keefe and I own the iFroggy Network (http://www.ifroggy.com), a network of websites covering various subjects. Being a big Bad Boy fan myself, I have recently launched Bad Boy Blog (http://www.badboyblog.com), an unofficial Bad Boy fan blog, as part of my network. At the blog, we cover all subjects related to Bad Boy, it’s artists and producers, including news, commentary and more.

I wanted to inquire as to if Bad Boy had a press release/promotional materials distribution list and, if so, to see if I could be placed on that list. Having dealt with the PR people for Microsoft, Fox, McGraw-Hill and others, I know how useful they can be and, as part of my blog, I am happy to spread Bad Boy news and information where appropriate.

I also wanted to open a dialog and ask if there was someone that I could ask questions in order to get the truth out my readers, who are Bad Boy fans. As an example, from time to time, various rumors make their way around the net. It would be great to have a contact that I could get in touch with to find out the truth from so that I can get that truth out to the people. Would this be possible?

If you are not the right person to contact to ask these questions, I apologize. If you could please direct me to the appropriate person, it would be much appreciated.

I appreciate your time and if you have any questions or if I can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Sincerely,

Patrick

Patrick O’Keefe
iFroggy Network – http://www.ifroggy.com

Patrick O'Keefe

Managing online communities since 2000, I publish a collective of websites known as the iFroggy Network. I wrote the book Managing Online Forums and, as a public speaker, have presented for organizations like CNN, institutions like Australian National University and conferences like SXSW. More about me.

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