"No good deed goes unpunished." That statement is certainly true in bluegrass journalism. That point was made this week because we didn't run a press release we received. We rarely run all of the press releases, announcements or articles that we receive for a variety of reasons. The most common is that there is no "newsworthy" content. Announcements of just another concert aren't newsworthy. When there is a special group reunion, celebration of some historic event, a interesting angle, dedicated purpose or other aspect that brings news into the announcement, we will try and carry the announcement. We however, don't run everything we receive and, we never have.
This being the case, we often get unsolicited material that just doesn't fit what we're doing or possibly our editorial guidelines. We received a recent announcement of a band performing at a festival. We didn't run it because that, in and of itself, had nothing of general interest to our readers. It lacked the necessary elements of being newsworthy and, it lacked purpose. If there had been something about the festival being a benefit or supporting some organization, that would have been different. Had the event been to honor some historical event or person, again, that would have been different. But, in this case, nothing was mentioned in the press release to indicate any newsworthy significance. We chose not to run it.
Then, we received a note titled "Disappointed in Cybergrass" that said, "Disappointed that you chose not to publish the article we sent about the ..... This up-and-coming festival could have used a bit of notice this week." That was real nice, especially coming from a Christian named agency. Keep in mind that they have never once purchased an ad on Cybergrass. They have never once supported us and our business. But, they expect Cybergrass to be their free promotional agent. That, unfortunately, is not what we do. It never has been. Cybergrass is dedicated to providing the bluegrass music community with news that is of interest to a broad range of fans, professionals and others interested in the genre.
Well, my response to that is the promoter was always free to run an advertisement on our site and they chose not to. We are not their exclusive free promotion agent and free publicity arm. We are a business with costs, expenses and we pay for that through advertising. If this was such an important event for them, why didn't they buy an advertisement which would have been seen by all our readers for an entire month?
We have run a lot of promotional material from this agent and the band over the years and, this was a very unexpected reaction showing their appreciation for all the free promotion we have given them. This is not the way you impress a publication to run more of your press releases. Besides, who are they to tell us, or any other publication, what articles to run and not to run? Who are they to complain after all the free publicity they have received? Why, after receiving such a nasty note would any publication ever want to run more of their announcements? We will, of course, continue to support them but, we will remain the one that makes the decision on what to run and when to run any article we select for publication.
Unfortunately, this was not an exception. This actually happens frequently. We give free promotional space to labels, artists, events, promoters, producers and more. We actually enjoy doing this, as long as there is something of "newsy" interest to our readers. And, it is not uncommon that somebody complains when we don't run something.
We receive many announcements every day and unfortunately, we are not able to run everything we receive. We prioritize everything we receive and then, out of necessity, we filter what does and doesn't meet our editorial guidelines of being newsworthy, of general interest to our global audience, or otherwise interesting to our readership. Most of what we receive we do run but, we don't run everything.
We never run an article that we receive which has nothing of general interest news. Whenever possible, we do take the time to try and find out more but, we don't always have the resources or time available to do this by the time we receive the announcement. We frequently add material to otherwise "flat" announcements to increase interest and reader value. Many event announcements we run on a regular basis are because of the social impact to the community and, the value of the venue. The Carter Family Fold being a prime example. Special events at the Ryman Auditorium are also part of that realm.
We never run an article the day of or the night before an event. If you have something coming up on Saturday, don't expect us to run a headline announcement when we don't even receive the press release until late Friday afternoon. For one thing, nobody would read it in time to attend. We also try and never run any announcement after the fact. What good would it do to tell our readers they missed an important or interesting event after its over? Many promoters do send us last minute announcements and, I get about one of these every week. I also frequently get a complaint for not running those announcements. Send us the release early and tell us what day to run it. We have always honored "release on: month day, year" requests but, not requests with less than 24 hours to go. It is always better to announce about a week early so that people actually have time to plan and accommodate their ability to attend.
We post all of our articles around midnight eastern as we have done for years. It has to be a very important happening for us to post earlier. Most of readers read the news in the morning and enjoy having it all there at one time. This works for them. It works for us. It has worked this way for years. Award shows, important deaths or births, or other important news that suddenly happens, may justify an exception to our policy. A lack of planning on the part of a press agent doesn't constitute an emergency on the part of Cybergrass.
In any case, we receive a lot of complaints regarding articles we didn't run. We receive a lot of junk announcements, one-liners, so and so is playing at some venue tonight, etc. We don't run those. But, we receive the complaints just the same. We get lots of requests and complaints from folks who never visit or otherwise support Cybergrass. It has been that way for years. We don't expect it to change. I thought it was time to raise the issue to the level of awareness.
Maybe the faceless impersonal approach of the Internet has robbed society of common courtesy and respectful interpersonal relations. It seems to get worse and worse year after year. People have become expectant of free service from those they don't otherwise even acknowledge or support.
So, I suggest that if the announcement is of great value, take the time to advertise it. It gives you a greater exposure and return on investment and, it helps us to stay in business. Next month, Cybergrass will be celebrating 20 years on the web doing what works for our readers and us. We will continue to follow that path. We can't stay in business doing everything for free. We always appreciate newsworthy announcements and information that would be enjoyed by our readers. Most of what we receive fits that category and, we are happy to run that material. We happily recognize those who have helped us along over the years and we most certainly support what our readers want and expect.
Thank you!t expect us to run a headline announcement when we don