It seems that location-based social media services, like Foursquare.com, are beginning to scare people. Sites like IcanstalkU.com say that whenever people post a photo of their lunch or their kids, also included are details about their exact location. We’ve certainly come a long way from stalking as I used to do it. OK, wait I’m not that creepy, let me explain.
A few years back, I was trying to get a story in the New York Times for the opening of an art exhibit in New York City. For those who don’t know me, art exhibit public relations is not a sweet spot for me. But I was working for another public relations agency and that’s the job they gave me. Little did I know I would have to do some polite stalking to get the story.
In the process of pitching the New York media from Chicago, I had a terrible time getting coverage. Nothing was working. I had to beg the New York Times calendar editor to include the art exhibit in their listings. The fact that I almost didn’t get a calendar listing for an art show is almost as unlikely as not getting wet when you jump into Lake Michigan.
When it came time to go to New York prior to the show’s opening, I stopped by the New York Times office to say thank you to the calendar editor. She came down to the front desk, gave me an extra copy of the listing and turned to leave.
However, I followed after her and said, “Could I have a few minutes of your time to show you who I’ve contacted here for a feature story on the show?” Amazingly, she didn’t call security, and said I could come up to her office.
The writer I needed to connect with (who had a reputation for being a little mean) was near where I was sitting. The calendar editor offered to take my press kit over to the writer but I literally had to keep my head down, so the writer did not think it was coming from me, but rather it was a suggestion from the calendar editor (I had already left a couple messages and mailed a press kit). Two weeks later, a half-page story appeared in the New York Times and my client thought I was a hero.
I think strategic “stalking” is OK, when you know the person and you can find a way to help them, not hurt them. Hopefully anyone using Foursquare agrees.