Posted tagged ‘Public Relations’

Broncos and Jets: Ticking PR Time Bombs?

March 26, 2012

This blog post originally appeared on The Gutes.

You may have heard the news: Peyton Manning, who missed the 2011 season with a neck injury that many thought could threaten his career, has signed a contract with the Denver Broncos to be the team’s next starting quarterback. This is great news for Broncos fans everywhere because they haven’t had a popular starting quarterback since the John Elway days, right? Wrong…

After taking over a struggling 1-4 team, quarterback Tim Tebow led the Broncos to victory after victory last season, struggling for the first three quarters before “Tebow Time” took over late in the game. With an offense that quickly transformed into an option attack, and a defense that kept every game close, the Broncos eventually won the AFC West title. Tebow was also a major reason the team won their first playoff game in electrifying fashion against the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime.

The signing of Manning has caused some dissatisfaction in Denver and throughout Bronco Nation. The so-called “Tebowmaniacs” are demoralized at the loss of their savior and Tebow himself can’t be too happy with his sudden departure from the team that he resurrected last season, although you would never know by speaking with him. Even after signing one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, Elway (now an executive with the team) has left a fan base divided, and this isn’t likely to change any time soon.

While Manning has the potential to lead the team back to the playoffs this season, one has to wonder how much of an injury risk he remains. Should something happen to the new face of the franchise, could we be looking at a potential PR nightmare in Denver?

Tick…tick…tick…

And what about Tebow’s new team. On paper, the New York Jets acquisition of the quarterback would appear to be a slam dunk for their fans. Already one of the most popular athletes in the world, Tebow brings his marketability and football skills to the center of the media universe. This situation has the potential to put him in LeBron James territory when it comes to his marketing value. But what does his acquisition do to the chemistry of the team? If he becomes the starting quarterback, will Tebow have the leeway to struggle as he originally did in Denver, while playing in the #1 television market in the country?

Tick…tick…tick…

Right now, the Jets now have the equivalent of two starting quarterbacks in Tebow and Mark Sanchez. The team just signed Sanchez to a three-year contract extension last week, a move that was met with a mixed reaction from Jets fans that have waited since 1969 for a return trip to the Super Bowl. Sanchez is 27-20 as a starter in the regular season and has a 4-2 record in the playoffs. Like Tebow, he’s led multiple game-winning drives and who can forget that he’s defeated Tom Brady and the New England Patriots three times over the past three seasons (something no other quarterback in the league has done). Will diehard Jets (and Sanchez) fans revolt if the coaching staff hands the ball over to Tebow as the starting quarterback in 2012?

Tick…tick…tick…

Whether its comments by Coach Rex Ryan, or issues involving players and/or fans, the Jets always seem to be in need of a PR makeover. Now, Tebowmania is about to sweep New York and one has to wonder what that means for the city. The team has always needed a “good guy” who can lead the team back to its glory days. Will the arrival of Tebow be the new incarnation of “Linsanity” that Jeremy Lin brought to the New York Knicks? Or are we looking at a quarterback controversy that will bring on a PR nightmare in New York?

Tick…tick…tick…

From a public relations standpoint, both the Broncos and Jets will be interesting to watch this season. You have to wonder what happens to the Broncos if Manning gets hurt. How quickly will the backlash come from the fans? How soon will you hear the “I told you so’s” from local sports writers? How will the Broncos be able to save face?

Tick…tick…tick…

And what about the quarterback situation in New York? Will Tebow be the starting quarterback? What about Sanchez? If Sanchez starts the season as the team’s quarterback, and struggles, will the coaching staff be forced to make an immediate change? What if he plays well? Will fans still demand increased playing time for Tebow?

Tick…tick…tick…

Both camps are walking on thin ice right now with fans due to their recent moves. As with any trade, the sky’s the limit for the potential. Who knows? The signing of Manning and trade of Tebow could end up being great for both franchises. But, if something goes wrong, you could easily be looking at a major PR nightmare in both cities.

Tick…tick…tick…BOOM!

4 Tips to Building a Better Relationship with the Media

September 26, 2011

Relationships are key in our daily lives. For those of us who have chosen PR as our career, building relationships with the media is our lifeblood. Positive inclusions in a newspaper, magazine or on a key industry blog can help put our clients name on the map, as well as increase their revenue. As PR professionals, it is our job to make this happen.

But, you need to understand that generating positive coverage for your client isn’t about blasting mass emails, press releases or untargeted pitches out aimlessly. In reality, most journalists will tell you that there is nothing more frustrating than finding their inboxes filled with irrelevant pitches from PR professionals. To avoid this, don’t repeatedly spam them with information they can’t use. You need to be a reference that they can come to for help and to make this happen, you need to build a strong, ongoing relationship.

Here are four tips from my experience in working with journalists that will help you to succeed in building a strong relationship with the media:

Be Sure You Understand Their Outlet

Before developing your pitch, you need to first understand the outlet you’re pitching. As I mentioned before, nothing can be more irritating to journalist than to receive off-base pitches while they are under the pressure of meeting a tight deadline. As PR professionals, we must understand each of the outlets that we work with, as well as how they are structured and their timelines for story development. Take the time necessary to familiarize yourself with the outlets and stories that your targeted journalist typically covers to ensure that your client is relevant. Fully understanding who and what they cover will go a long way towards building a long-term relationship.

Always Personalize Your Pitches

No one likes impersonal communication. Make sure that you take that extra couple of minutes with every encounter you have with them to personalize your interaction. I highly recommend that you read up on what the journalist has recently covered and incorporate this you’re your pitch or general follow up. Keeping your pitch personal will let the journalist know that you understand their coverage area and is key to building a relationship. Also, every interaction doesn’t need to be a pitch. I’ve found that just checking in with a journalist to let them know that they recently wrote an interesting article can be very beneficial in the relationship building process.

Don’t Bait and Switch

Journalists are always on deadline and they don’t have time to play games. If you pitch a story, or source, that they are interested in, be sure you can deliver. Nothing can sour a relationship with a journalist faster than failing to meet their expectations by promising an interview with your clients CEO and then having a marketing director on the call. The same goes for story pitching. If a journalist goes into a call expecting one thing, and you turn around and talk about something completely different, chances are you might not get a second opportunity with the journalist.

Saying Thank You Goes a Long Way

After a story featuring your client appears, don’t forget to say thank you. This doesn’t have to be a long-winded, gushing letter. It could be a sentence or two that lets the journalist know that you appreciate the time and effort he or she put into the piece. This simple act of appreciation can be the difference between continued coverage with a journalist or not. Whenever a journalist covers one of my clients, I always send a short note thanking them for their time and offering the client up as a source for future pieces. This shows appreciation for their hard work and I for one know that it’s nice to be acknowledged.  I’m sure they do too.

Those are a few recommendations that I have from my personal experience. Do you have any other tips that work for you? How do you build strong relationships with the media? Please leave your thoughts below.

Another Look at “New Journalism” and an Introduction to Tackable

February 17, 2011

My colleague at McGrath/Power Public Relations has an interesting post up today which takes another look at the so-called “New Journalism” and Tackable, a social journalism platform launching in partnership with the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune and 31 other newspapers across the San Francisco Bay Area.

Please check it out at the link below. Good stuff!

From Pass the Mic:

Pitched recently by a former co-worker and journalist Luke Stangel at an SVNewTech Meetup, Tackable epitomizes citizen journalism.  And based on the response they are getting from the likes of the Mercury News and other top tier news outlets, there seems to be some real promise here.  By their own words, Tackable is designed to give you a live look at everything happening in your city, right now. Connect instantly with people witnessing what you’re interested in. News organizations use the platform to write better articles, faster.

A Perspective On Facebook’s Sponsored Stories

February 15, 2011

A very interesting blog post by my colleague Katie Peterson at McGrath/Power Public Relations today surrounding changes to Facebook policies affecting both business advertisements and personal accounts.

Please follow this link for more information.

From Pass the Mic:

Facebook is turning our Facebook status, personal opinions, and information into advertisements. While I understand there is controversy around the subject because there is no user “opt out” option, and some claim that it is an invasion of privacy, from the business perspective, Facebook’s latest marketing tool is ingenious.  In my opinion, and one that may not match that of my colleagues, I think the sponsored stories are actually very beneficial.

What Happens in Vegas…

February 2, 2011

As we turn the calendar from one year to another, what does it make you think about? New Year’s Resolutions? Back-To-School? The Super Bowl?

Well, if you’re like me and employed in the world of tech PR, it means one thing…the annual “Super Bowl” of consumer electronics events, the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

If you’ve ever attended CES then you know that the show has grown exponentially since its early days. There’s nothing quite like getting more than 140,000+ of your closest friends together in Las Vegas for 4 days of the latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos from some of the largest consumer electronics companies in the world. Each year, months of hype lead up to the show. Who’s going to be there? What are they going to be demonstrating? What’s the big, new “it” product? And this year was no different.

Quite a few major technology trends emerged from this year’s show floor that are sure to keep me busy throughout 2011. Some of the significant topics of discussion included the launch of dozens of new tablet devices, wireless 4G LTE and enhanced connected television technologies.

And if you thought that CES had lost its luster and prestige…think again! Last year was a major down year in terms of attendance for CES. But, it was the large crowd at this year’s show that caught the attention of many in the media:

“I must’ve gotten the following question fifty times in the past few days: what’s the coolest thing you saw at CES? Every time, I’ve given the same answer: the crowd…It’s what the size of the 2011 CES signifies about the consumer electronics industry, and about the cultural centrality of a set of devices and issues that used to be the sole province of geeks.” Jon Stokes, Ars Technica

“CES 2011 is back to normal. It was packed with vendors and attendees. The overall tone was extremely up beat… It was fun to walk the floor and see what was on display.” Bill Wong, Electronic Design

There was no shortage of big names at CES. Amongst those speaking in Las Vegas this year were Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, Rupert Stadler of AUDI AG, Boo-Keun Yoon of Samsung, Alan Mulally of Ford and Ivan Seidenberg of Verizon. Each gave a Keynote presentation and Mulally used his presentation to unveil the company’s first electric vehicle, the Ford Focus Electric. Did you miss any of the Keynote presentations? Don’t worry…in this day and age you can easily go back and watch all of them online on the CES website anytime you like.

We talked trends coming out of the show earlier, and in 2011, there was no shortage of hot button topics that everyone wanted to talk about. Here’s what members of the media had to say about what they saw on the show floor:

“From the very first press conference, the main theme from the show emerged: your next smartphone will likely connect to a 4G network. For business use, 4G on your smartphone or tablet means easier Internet back-ups, smooth video chats, and snappier Web viewing.” John Brandon, Inc. Magazine

“This year, the show was all about Android. We ushered in the era of dual-core Androids with LG and Motorola, we celebrated the 4G revolution with LG, Motorola, and Samsung, and we even got a glimpse at how Android works when screen resolution is bumped beyond the all-too-common WVGA, thanks to Motorola. Oh, and a little thing called Android 3.0 Honeycomb is going to transform the way we think about not only tablets, but smartphones too.” Brandon Miniman, PocketNow.com

Larger crowds, 4G and gadgets galore! These were some of the highlights of CES this year. I think we can safely say that the recession appears to be over and if CES is any barometer for the state of the industry, then we’re in for a big 2011!

Did you go to CES this year? What was your biggest takeaway? What was your most memorable moment (at the event…not in Vegas)?

Casey Anthony, Caylee Anthony, Time Magazine, MSNBC and Everything Else…

March 14, 2009

Hey everyone. I’ve had some time to think recently. I’ve had a great time writing this blog for, wow it’s been over 9 months now. I can’t believe how many people have actually stopped by to read the stories that I put up everyday. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 425,000 people have read and I appreciate each and every one of you.

It’s been an interesting year, that’s for sure. From being on the cover of TIME Magazine to being in an article in the issue to being featured on MSNBC and of course all the people who have stopped by to read this blog. It’s been a lot of fun!

I’m writing this post today because I’ve decided that I’m going to be taking a bit of a break, of sorts, and I’m going to be cutting back a bit on the number of stories I put up each day. I typically post a bunch early in the morning and in the evening. Sometimes you can easily see 15-20 posts a day! But, I’ve found that I want to spend more of this time with my family, my kids and my wife. They’re my life and after spending 8-10 hours a day working, I just don’t have the time to devote to writing so many blog posts.

I have to say, though, that this blog is NOT ending. I”ll still be writing. More than likely, I’ll drop down to 2-3 posts a day, if that. Some days there may be more but, I’m just tired. It happens to us all I’m sure!

I’ve spoken to a couple of you personally over the past couple of days via email to let you know that this is something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. Sometimes, we spend too much time online and not with our love ones. I’ve had the chance to spend all day today with my daughter and it has been SOOO much fun. I’ve had a few issues to deal with on the site here that I just finally had to take care of. I was losing a bit of control of what was being written in terms of comments and I was losing the people who were my daily readers. The ones who kept the discussions going and these people are the ones who I write for because they love the discussion and sometimes the back and forth of opinions. But they were the ones who always kept things tactful and decent. That has always been my goal of this site. To make this a place where anyone would feel comfortable.

For the past few weeks, I don’t think everyone felt comfortable anymore, and I apologize for this. I’ve been so busy that I just haven’t had the time to monitor the discussions to be sure that everyone was respecting the “rules” that I have. Well I can tell you that things should be much better moving forward. Who knows, maybe after a little while I’ll get back to posting more often :)

But for now, you’ll still see posts, just not as frequent. I’ll still be following politics, sports, music, the Casey Anthony trial and more. But I spend enough time at work everyday working on a computer. I don’t need to spend the rest of the day/night on it as well :)

Thanks for everyone’s support, stopping by, leaving comments and (for the most part) being respectful to the site. I hope that you’ll continue to stop by and say hello. You’ve got my email address, so feel free to drop me a line or check the blogroll for my other pages (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter). Stop by any of these pages anytime!

Have a great weekend!!!

John “The Roaddawg” Kreuzer

Octuplets Publicist Quits

March 9, 2009

For the second time in less than a month Octomom is down a publicist. The reason? “This woman is nuts,” was what Victor Munoz told Usmagazine.com.

From NBCBayArea.com:

The new PR rep for octuplet mother Nadya Suleman filed his walking papers after spending less than a month repping the mom and her supersized brood, Usmagazine.com reported.

“It just got to be too much,” Victor Munoz told Usmagazine.com. “It’s pretty much a free for all over there right now.”

Munoz told the publication he couldn’t get into much detail about his decision to leave but that he planned to meet with lawyers Monday to go over the confidentiality clauses in his contract.

“They are freaking out right now,” he said of the Suleman family. “Not to sound arrogant but those people depended on me for everything. You have no idea what I’ve had to do for these people.”

Suleman, who is 33 and unemployed, said in early February that she lives off of food stamps and intended to use student loans to help finance her 14 children.

“I am providing for my children. I am,” Suleman said on the “Today” show on Feb. 10. “And that will probably run out by the time I go back to school. So I have my won way. It’s an alternative way, but it works.”

Munoz said octomom became greedy during his short tenure as her go-to PR guy.

“Nadya got real greedy. This woman is nuts,” he told Usmagazine.com. “This I can say: What ultimately destroyed the business arrangement was personal reasons.”

Bunking In With Mom And Dad

February 20, 2009

I love this article by Laura Koss-Feder at TIME Magazine.

Yes, I’m biased because I’m in the article and there is a family picture as well but still, it’s a really interesting look at families who are pulling together in a time where the economy is in the tank.

I only wish our part of the story, in bold below, would have said more about how much my in-laws helped us out, rather than us helping them. They have done so much for us and I felt that the story focused more on how we helped pay their rent and bills. There was so much more than just that.

But still, to be in TIME is quite an honor. Please try not to laugh at my photo below :)

UPDATE: The print issue is dated March 2 and should be in stores soon!!! Kate Winslet is on the cover, just FYI! Oh yeah…I’m on the COVER too!!! Top right hand corner next to the date March 2, 2009.

From TIME:

Credit: Mark Richards, TIME Magazine

Credit: Mark Richards, TIME Magazine

Jennifer Bliss was no fledgling lawyer when she moved back in with her parents. At 39, she had burned through her retirement funds after losing her law-firm job in July 2007. She gave the bank the keys to the home she was unable to sell in Grand Rapids, Mich., and last November, she packed up her two Great Danes and moved about 60 miles, to Lansing, to live with her mother and stepfather. “This has been awful,” says Bliss, who has sent out some 600 résumés nationwide looking for legal work or a managerial position in another field. “I went to law school to have a solid profession so that I wouldn’t wind up in a situation like this.”

The term boomerang children used to refer to young adults moving back in with their parents, but the recession is forcing people in their 30s and 40s and older–often with a spouse and kids in tow–to bunk in with the ‘rents until they regain their financial footing. Since the recession began in December 2007, the U.S. has lost 3.6 million jobs. An AARP survey released in May found that more than a third of retirees have had to help a child pay bills in the past year. And the number of multigenerational households has increased from 5 million in 2000 to 6.2 million in 2008, according to AARP. Cramped quarters, wounded pride and general anxiety about the global economic crisis do not the most pleasant living situation make. But there are ways to ease the transition.

Talk about expectations. And be sure to discuss one another’s needs up front, says Brian Carpenter, a psychology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. Failure to do so can lead to a lot of friction. That’s what happened when Michael Gallagher, 40, moved in with his mother in Los Angeles in October 2007 after he was downsized from his job as an audio engineer. “When he came home to live, I was thinking ‘family,’ and he was thinking ‘roommate,’” says BJ Gallagher, 59, an author and a video producer. “I would feel bad when he wouldn’t say hello when he walked in the door.” At the same time, her son felt she was checking up on him and “lurking” around, she says. “We both ended up disappointed and annoyed until we discussed it and dealt with it.”

Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United, an intergenerational advocacy group based in Washington, says it’s a good idea to create an approximate timetable for achieving specific goals (à la “get a job,” “move out”).

Build in privacy. If possible, everyone should have at least some space of his or her own. For instance, when Michael Gallagher took over the part of his mother’s house that she had been using as an office, she moved her computer and video equipment into a much smaller room adjoining her bedroom. “We each needed our own space. There was no way around that,” BJ says of the rearranging she did to accommodate her son.

Share household expenses. Pay parents rent, or help with bills, and take over chores like mowing the lawn. “This way, everyone is helping in some way, and no one feels taken advantage of,” says Elizabeth Carll, a psychologist in Huntington, N.Y., who is an expert on dealing with stress. Bliss does all the cooking and cleaning. Michael Gallagher buys his own food, and beyond that, his mother says, he has “paid in trade” by persuading her to have the hip replacement she had needed for a while and by taking care of her postsurgery.

Grandparents rule. In late 2006, John Kreuzer, 30, and his wife moved from Portland, Ore., into his in-laws’ house in San Jose, Calif., because he got a p.r. job in Silicon Valley. They decided to keep staying there–with their two little kids–because Kreuzer’s father-in-law was laid off. As the job market got tighter, it just made sense for everyone to share living expenses in such a high-cost area, Kreuzer says.

Along the way, there have been differences of opinion when it comes to child-rearing. Kreuzer has explained to his children that they must abide by their grandparents’ rules, e.g., no roughhousing indoors. “My in-laws really help out with the kids while my wife and I are working,” he says. “I know that once we move out, my children will miss their time together with Grandma and Pop-Pop.” Once we move out? That brings up one last point.

Be realistic. The economy has to turn around someday, and in the meantime, rents are falling. In March, Kreuzer and his family are moving into a nearby town house with rent so cheap, he can continue to help his in-laws pay their monthly bills.

Michael Gallagher also found a killer deal on a rental. He moved out of his mom’s place in November, but she has yet to rearrange her stuff. “I’m not moving anything back just yet,” she says. “With this awful economy, he could boomerang right back in here.”

TIME Magazine Article (I’m In It)

February 19, 2009

We’re in the print issue dated March 2 and should be in stores soon!!! Kate Winslet is on the cover, just FYI!

UPDATE: I’m on the COVER too in a small picture in the top right corner next to the March 2, 2009 date :)

But if you want a peek, the article is available online now.

Its a brief 2-3 paragraph mention near the end of the article but it’s still great to be a part of an article in TIME Magazine.

I’ve got a link to it below and the full text of the article and an “OK” picture of us (no kids though) :)

I love the “worried” look on my face! The only thing I wish could have been included in this article is how much my in-laws were a help to us. I feel as though the section is too slanted to how we helped them when in reality, we helped each other. They were very instrumental in making things work and I don’t want to come across as looking as though we supported them. This is not the case. We supported each other :)

Now we can be as famous as Casey Anthony! Without the drama that comes with it of course!!

Credit: Mark Richards

Credit: Mark Richards

From TIME:

Jennifer Bliss was no fledgling lawyer when she moved back in with her parents. At 39, she had burned through her retirement funds after losing her law-firm job in July 2007. She gave the bank the keys to the home she was unable to sell in Grand Rapids, Mich., and last November, she packed up her two Great Danes and moved about 60 miles, to Lansing, to live with her mother and stepfather. “This has been awful,” says Bliss, who has sent out some 600 résumés nationwide looking for legal work or a managerial position in another field. “I went to law school to have a solid profession so that I wouldn’t wind up in a situation like this.”

The term boomerang children used to refer to young adults moving back in with their parents, but the recession is forcing people in their 30s and 40s and older–often with a spouse and kids in tow–to bunk in with the ‘rents until they regain their financial footing. Since the recession began in December 2007, the U.S. has lost 3.6 million jobs. An AARP survey released in May found that more than a third of retirees have had to help a child pay bills in the past year. And the number of multigenerational households has increased from 5 million in 2000 to 6.2 million in 2008, according to AARP. Cramped quarters, wounded pride and general anxiety about the global economic crisis do not the most pleasant living situation make. But there are ways to ease the transition.

Talk about expectations. And be sure to discuss one another’s needs up front, says Brian Carpenter, a psychology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. Failure to do so can lead to a lot of friction. That’s what happened when Michael Gallagher, 40, moved in with his mother in Los Angeles in October 2007 after he was downsized from his job as an audio engineer. “When he came home to live, I was thinking ‘family,’ and he was thinking ‘roommate,’” says BJ Gallagher, 59, an author and a video producer. “I would feel bad when he wouldn’t say hello when he walked in the door.” At the same time, her son felt she was checking up on him and “lurking” around, she says. “We both ended up disappointed and annoyed until we discussed it and dealt with it.”

Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United, an intergenerational advocacy group based in Washington, says it’s a good idea to create an approximate timetable for achieving specific goals (à la “get a job,” “move out”).

Build in privacy. If possible, everyone should have at least some space of his or her own. For instance, when Michael Gallagher took over the part of his mother’s house that she had been using as an office, she moved her computer and video equipment into a much smaller room adjoining her bedroom. “We each needed our own space. There was no way around that,” BJ says of the rearranging she did to accommodate her son.

Share household expenses. Pay parents rent, or help with bills, and take over chores like mowing the lawn. “This way, everyone is helping in some way, and no one feels taken advantage of,” says Elizabeth Carll, a psychologist in Huntington, N.Y., who is an expert on dealing with stress. Bliss does all the cooking and cleaning. Michael Gallagher buys his own food, and beyond that, his mother says, he has “paid in trade” by persuading her to have the hip replacement she had needed for a while and by taking care of her postsurgery.

Grandparents rule. In late 2006, John Kreuzer, 30, and his wife moved from Portland, Ore., into his in-laws’ house in San Jose, Calif., because he got a p.r. job in Silicon Valley. They decided to keep staying there–with their two little kids–because Kreuzer’s father-in-law was laid off. As the job market got tighter, it just made sense for everyone to share living expenses in such a high-cost area, Kreuzer says.

Along the way, there have been differences of opinion when it comes to child-rearing. Kreuzer has explained to his children that they must abide by their grandparents’ rules, e.g., no roughhousing indoors. “My in-laws really help out with the kids while my wife and I are working,” he says. “I know that once we move out, my children will miss their time together with Grandma and Pop-Pop.”

Once we move out? That brings up one last point.

Be realistic. The economy has to turn around someday, and in the meantime, rents are falling.

In March, Kreuzer and his family are moving into a nearby town house with rent so cheap, he can continue to help his in-laws pay their monthly bills.

Michael Gallagher also found a killer deal on a rental. He moved out of his mom’s place in November, but she has yet to rearrange her stuff. “I’m not moving anything back just yet,” she says. “With this awful economy, he could boomerang right back in here.”

TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington Taking Leave of Absence

January 28, 2009

Michael Arrington, founder of the influential technology blog TechCrunch, announced today that he is taking a leave of absence after suffering from several instances of physical and verbal abuse, including a death threat last summer.

From TechCrunch:

Yesterday as I was leaving the DLD Conference in Munich, Germany someone walked up to me and quite deliberately spat in my face. Before I even understood what was happening, he veered off into the crowd, just another dark head in a dark suit. People around me stared, then looked away and continued their conversation.

Generally at events people come up to me to talk about their startups. My reaction varies depending on how much sleep I’ve gotten and how many times I’ve been pitched in the previous hour. Sometimes I sit down and watch a demo. Sometimes I give them my card and ask them to contact me. Yesterday I was battling the flu, jetlag and little sleep, and had been battered for three days straight with product pitches from entrepreneurs desperate for press. The event was over and I was on my way back to my hotel. The last thing I wanted was another product pitch as I hurried to the car that would drive me to Davos for the next event. So when I saw this person approach me out of the corner of my eye, I turned away slightly and avoided eye contact. Sometimes that works. But in this case all it did was make me vulnerable to the last thing I expected.

In the past I’ve been grabbed, pulled, shoved and otherwise abused at events, but never spat on. I think this is where I’m going to draw a line.

TechCrunch is a successful startup in its own right, and I’m proud of what we’ve built over the years. We are aggressive proponents of the startup community, and do what we can to give exposure to new ventures that previously had little chance at public exposure. I generally enjoy attending and speaking at events, talking to entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, and debating whatever the topic of the day is with others.

But I can’t say my job is much fun any more. Startups that don’t get the coverage they want and competing journalists and bloggers tend to accuse us of the most ridiculous things. It hasn’t been worth our time to respond to these accusations; I always assumed that our work and integrity would speak for itself. But as we’ve grown and become more successful the attacks have also grown. On any given day, when I care to look, dozens of highly negative comments are made about me, TechCrunch or one of our employees in our comments, on Twitter, or on blogs or other sites. Some of these are appropriately critical comments on things we can be doing better. But the majority of comments are among the more horrible things I can imagine a human being say.

Luckily my tolerance level for verbal abuse has risen proportionately to our growth, so I can handle most of the verbal abuse thrown our way. I can even handle it when my so called friends decide it’s in their best interest to spread negative rumors about us privately. I believe that it has changed me as a person to the point where I generally don’t trust people until they’ve earned it. Before TechCrunch I assumed most people were essentially good, and assumed that an individual was trustworthy until proven otherwise. Today, its exactly the opposite.

But like I said, I draw the line at being spat on. It’s one step away from something far more violent.

Something very few people know: last year over the summer an off balance individual threatened to kill me and my family. He wasn’t very stealthy about it – he called our office number, sent me emails and even posted threats on his blog, so it wasn’t hard to determine who he was. The threats were, in the opinion of security experts we consulted, serious. The individual has a felony record and owns a gun. Police in three states became involved and we hired a personal security team to protect me, my family and TechCrunch employees.

At over $2,000 a day we couldn’t keep paying for security indefinitely. And the police were helpful but couldn’t do much based on the threats until he acted. We had the option of getting a restraining order but that just tells the person exactly where you are (the places they can’t go). So for a week I was literally in hiding with my parents at their home. The TechCrunch office was empty, and the police made regular checks to see if things were ok. One evening they almost arrested one of our employees who stopped by the office to pick up something.

Seeing my parents fear for their lives and not understand how or why their son was in this position changed me, made me a much less forgiving person in general.

I write about technology startups and news. In any sane world that shouldn’t make me someone who has to deal with death threats and being spat on. It shouldn’t require me to absorb more verbal abuse than a human being can realistically deal with.

The problem is that I love what I do when I’m not hiding from some crazy fucker who wants to kill me or being spat on by some unhappy European entrepreneur we didn’t write about.

I’ve decided the right thing to do is take some time off and get a better perspective on what I’m spending my life doing. I’ll be taking most of February off from writing, and decide what the best future for me is while sitting on a beach somewhere far away from my iPhone and laptop. I’ll be continuing to write this week and cover news from the World Economic Forum in Davos, then I’ll take time off starting next week.

I hope that some of my peers will realize that competitive pressures do not give them carte blanche to accuse us and others of literally anything that pops into their head and repeat it publicly or privately. I want them to compete hard with us, but fight clean. I want them to realize that their words influence others who may be inclined to “take matters into their own hands” under the mistaken impression that threatening to kill someone, or physically attacking them, is somehow righteous. And I hope that my peers who tend to sit on the sideline while others attack will start to take a stand against it.

We write about technology and entrepreneurship. These things are important, but not so important that we should fear for our safety or the safety of our families.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Arrington, well-known in Silicon Valley for breaking tech news as well as reviewing start-up companies, said he is leaving the blog at least through February because the abuse has intensified. The final straw came Tuesday at a conference in Germany when “someone walked up to me and quite deliberately spat in my face,” he said.

“I draw the line at being spat on,” Arrington wrote in a blog post. “It’s one step away from something far more violent.”

Arrington, 38, also revealed on his blog Wednesday that someone threatened to kill him and his family last summer. Arrington said the individual called the TechCrunch office, sent him emails and posted threats on the blog. Arrington hired personal security, which cost more than $2,000 a day, and police in three states were involved in the situation.

“For a week I was literally in hiding with my parents at their home,” Arrington wrote. “I write about technology startups and news. In any sane world that shouldn’t make me someone who has to deal with death threats and being spat on.”

Arrington, a former corporate attorney and Internet executive, launched TechCrunch in 2005 and has become a highly trafficked blogger for many Silicon Valley venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. Many tech start-ups hope to get featured on his blog because of its wide-ranging exposure.

He’s also spent significant time writing about corporate news, as he’s had several scoops about discussions between Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) about potential deals. Yahoo rejected Microsoft’s $47.5 billion takeover bid last year, but rumors continue to swirl that Microsoft may still have interest in Yahoo’s search business. Arrington’s reporting on the subject has proven to move markets several times.

But his style is often criticized because he’s previously advised companies that he’s written about or accepted paid ads from them. His journalistic integrity has also been put to question, as he recently wrote a blistering post bashing PR firms and saying TechCrunch will break every embargo it agrees to. An embargo is an agreement between a source and news provider that information doesn’t get published until a certain date or conditions have been met.


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