PR & Social Media Miscellany – September 29th 2009

Here are a selection of links to some interesting content I found during my most recent attempt to review all my RSS feeds…


Public Relations & Media Content

PR Agency pitches..

I missed this, but fascinating discussion nonetheless.  In the UK, following an agency pitch process, decided to pay some of the unsuccessful (no one is a loser on this blog :-)) PR agencies for some of their ideas. Mark Pinsent has stirred a fantastic discussion with a post about how the pitch process is dead. There’s some great content in the comments including a great response from Kelly Davies at (quoted below). Mark has a follow up post here and Clive Armitage weighs in on the issue here. My two cents? Hiring the right PR firm is incredibly challenging. It’s not just about credentials…

Not all agencies are suited to all clients and a pitch is much more than just presenting a load of ideas. It’s about feeling the passion, the hunger and although I hate the phrase, the ‘chemistry’. I’m not going to choose an agency based on a creds pitch. For me that’s akin to buying a pair of shoes without trying them on. I have done this on many occasions and I always end up taking them back.

Lines of journalism….

Over at Ragan a guest post by Vanessa Horwell claims that “Times’ David Pogue blurs journalism lines

Tech bloggers—a notoriously vociferous and at times a moody bunch (any PR pro who’s dealt with tech and/or mobile bloggers can comment on this)—seem to be leading the mob, with virtual pitchforks in hand. But the real question is will this affect Pogue and the Times, and what does this controversy say about the ever-blurring line between journalism and unvarnished opinion?

The beauty of social media is that David responds to this post in the comments:

Thank you for your thoughtful analysis. However, your whole column is based on one truly awful error…


The implications of new media…

Recommended reading: The Atlantic has a very interesting feature: “The story behind the story” 

There’s more here than just an old journalist’s lament over his dying profession, or over the social cost of losing great newspapers and great TV-news operations. And there’s more than an argument for the ethical superiority of honest, disinterested reporting over advocacy. Even an eager and ambitious political blogger like Richmond, because he is drawn to the work primarily out of political conviction, not curiosity, is less likely to experience the pleasure of finding something new, or of arriving at a completely original, unexpected insight, one that surprises even himself. He is missing out on the great fun of speaking wholly for himself, without fear or favor. This is what gives reporters the power to stir up trouble wherever they go. They can shake preconceptions and poke holes in presumption.

You have to promise not to print…

Frank Shaw discusses the death of the embargo.


Social Media Content

Blind ignorance isn’t an excuse…

Shel Holtz on why he believes that social media is not a car.

There’s an age-old analogy that keeps coming up in social media talks I hear. “You don’t need to know how it works,” the analogy goes, “just like you don’t need to know how internal combustion works to drive a car.”

It’s a fine analogy for a consumer using social media. It doesn’t wash for communicators.


Social media: fact or fiction…

“Is social media overrated? No, but be flexible” – Shel Israel.

My point is to go into social media with a sense of who you want to reach and why. But be prepared for surprises and pack flexibility into your approach. Surprises happen and social media allows you to adapt and adjust with greater ease, less time and lower cost than other available options.


Will we miss the guru…(yeah right)

Gary Goldhammer advises: “Let’s say goodbye to the social media guru” – A-B-S-O-L-U-T-E-L-Y

All media today is social, so in my opinion there is no “social media.” And there are no gurus either, only those who know a little more than some others – and trust me, the others aren’t too far behind.

Get on with it…

Louis Gray has penned a guest post over on Brian Solis’ blog: “Stop talking about social media and go do it already”

Companies that do leverage social media need to recognize that by participating in these social networks, they are asking customers to do the equivalent of inviting them into their homes. By saying you are a “fan” of a product on Facebook, or that you are “following” a company on Twitter, you are translating the abstract corporate behemoth to something that is personal. And with that personal element comes an unwritten promise, that you will act in a way that is respectable, like a “friend”. And as you know, friends don’t kiss and tell.

Great minds think alike…

Seth Godin and Tom Peters on blogging.

Is the online world growing up? What about PR?

Interesting news from New York that a supreme court judge has ruled that Liskula Cohen is entitled to information that would help her to identify an anonymous blogger who called her a “skank”.

If she follows through that could be a very interesting development indeed.

Meanwhile Mark Creaser is pondering if PR agencies are redundant in 2009.

Digital Agencies are already elbowing PR aside, and within a couple of years, a traditional PR agency will be fairly niche. Times change, and in 2010 people will want to feel increasingly engaged with the brands and people they choose to do business with.

Now I think Mark makes some interesting points, but I don’t buy it – his argument that is, not PR agency services. I do buy them.

If there’s been one consistent PR-related theme on the interweb over the past five years it has been the death of PR and the death of PR agencies.

From what I am observing, there is a lot of innovation taking place inside PR firms, probably not enough, but it is happening.

Yes I am also seeing “digital” agencies stepping in and driving online campaigns, which in my opinion, is a huge missed (revenue and mindshare) opportunity for PR firms, but if PR agencies are smart and continue to develop their services and skills, then over time you could see PR firms taking back much of that budget.

Great communications is all about understanding your audience and engaging with them.  The idea that we’re facing into a time where we do all our outreach in-house just isn’t credible in my opinion.

Firstly let’s not forget that online is one (albeit a strong growing) element of the communications mix.  Secondly, while I am not by any means an apologist for PR firms, they do bring a range of benefits to companies from an outside-in perspective, to reach, expertise and much more.

PR firms aren’t going anywhere.

Communications in an age of social media is arguably more important now, than ever. Firms who invest in their people and their expertise, who spend time understanding the impact of online and how it sits with traditional channels (not just media folks) will continue to thrive.

Of course that’s just my opinion. I’d be much more worried about the future of “social media” gurus than PR firms…. but that’s for another day.

Awards, job searches, twits (not Twitter-related) and disasters…

Heartiest congratulations to Stuart Bruce and the team at Wolfstar who won the Chartered Institute of Public Relations Grand Prix Award for the UK’s Outstanding Small Consultancy!  Fantastic achievement in 18 months!


image Fair play award of the day goes to Thomas Brunkard, who as a communications professional in these challenging times, is documenting his journey to secure a PR job in Ireland through his blog. Good on him.  Take a look.. particularly if you’re looking to fill a position in Ireland.


image In other fantastic news, Jenn was in touch to tell me about the “independent New York fashion trade show and shopping event”…. I wonder has Jenn ever seen a photo of me? If she had she’d know all about my passion for couture. She certainly didn’t stop to look at this site before spamming my in-box.  Well done Jenn, great job. You’re the perfect example of the lazy, unprofessional people who give PR a bad name.


image Gerry “PR Disasters” McCusker is calling for nominations for the biggest PR disasters for 2008.  No shortage of candidates there methinks…

Other Links:

Anxiety, why you should sleep on it and how bad news travels…

I was in a great all-day meeting today…. it’s not often that I’d put those words in that order. But it was a great meeting (are you allowed by positive about anything anymore?).  During the day I heard a fantastic definition of anxiety, which I thought was apt given the current economic gloom:


“Anxiety is excitement, but without the breathing.”


Speaking of anxiety…

Todd Defren has a post from earlier in the week, that if I was being very kind, I’d excuse as being a knee jerk response to a bad business event.  In what I’d describe as a “race to the bottom” he’s rushed a post entitled: “Cut the PR agency, are you sure about that?”.

Sometimes it’s better to sleep on those posts.

Frank Shaw has an interesting response to Noam Cohen’s piece in the New York Times – on how misinformation travels quickly around the Interweb – with some good common sense guidance.


Well at least it’s the weekend :-)