[OSM-talk] Press contacts

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemeD.net
Sun Aug 12 22:22:18 BST 2007

OJW wrote:

> Following-on from a dicussion at OSM party, and perhaps of interest  
> to our new
> press officer...

You bet. :)

All really interesting stuff - filed for proper consideration. Press  
releases, dedicated contact points, a press section etc. are kind of  
Media Relations 101 and obviously something I'll need to set about as  
a first step (we have, of course, got some way there already).

A few additional points which I think are important.

- What do we want our media coverage to _achieve_? To my mind there  
are two aims right now: more contributors; and mindshare (or as you  
say, "background awareness") to encourage that more widely. We don't  
want, yet, to promote OSM as an alternative mainstream mapping portal  
for all purposes - to do so would be counter-productive. (Though we  
may be able to do this in local areas where we have excellent coverage.)

- The "press" is, of course, now much wider than simply printed/ 
televisual media. A lot of the publicity we need will come through  
campaigns on influential technology sites, blogs, etc. Steve  
Chilton's excellent work in promoting SOTM to bloggers is a great  
case in point.

- The less glamorous parts of the media (local papers, specialist  
magazines, etc.) are often better places to get useful publicity. A  
two-sentence mention in the Times is hard to achieve: a longer story  
in (say) the Railway Magazine about enthusiasts mapping Britain's  
railways is much easier: but the latter will get more contributors  
and more data for OSM, no question.

- Partnerships are absolutely vital. A joint Yahoo/OSM press release  
about the satellite imagery would have so much more impact than an  
OSM-alone one. Same goes for AND/OSM, and so on.

- There is nothing wrong with artificially generating a story,  
especially at this "silly season" time of year. Anyone who reads geo  
blogs will have seen the story placed by a UK insurance company  
recently about how people can't read maps (see, for example, http:// 
www.edparsons.com/). Actually the story was complete crap: it was  
more "people don't instantly recognise a bunch of badly redrawn  
symbols from OS 1:50,000 mapping when out of context". But the  
coverage it got was immense. We can do that, and hopefully with a  
less rubbish story. :)

- But we have to be careful in what we wish for. A Slashdot frontpage  
story is very possible, for example, but site capacity would get  
utterly slashdotted, and the vandalism would take days to repair  
without proper tools. I don't hold with the adage that all publicity  
is good publicity!

It's going to be fun. :)


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