The life of the indignant comment spammer

A rather amusing incident occurred today. I was beavering away on one of my work related blogs when within minutes of a post going live, a new comment appeared.

The comment was relevant to the post, but then I noticed that the “commenter’s” URL was clearly comment spam – I obviously won’t reproduce it here.


Now I had heard that spammers were circumventing technologies like Captchas (a technology which stops spammers doing automated sign ups) by employing lowly paid humans to physically register for hundreds of web sites – they’re called Captcha Solvers.

But I hadn’t come across blog spam solvers, but they’re out there.

Anyhow, I deleted/declined the comment and within seconds received an incredibly indignant reply querying why I had declined a relevant comment and suggesting I should change my mind.

Needless to say a quick challenge on the URL omitted no further response.

Clearly there are now armies of blog spam solvers monitoring RSS feeds and diving in with “relevant” comments with spam URLs.

Innovation is alive and well… even if it’s unpleasant.

New PR firm… social media echo chamber… when e-mail goes bad and blog badges..

A big congratulations to Stephen Davies on his brave new venture, he’s set up his own PR firm 3WPR. You can read the announcement here, and Stephen’s blog post on the new venture here. I wish him the very best of luck!

I found myself nodding in agreement with Jonathan Trenn‘s editorial on ZDNet: Echo Chamber: Social media strategists are talking to themselves.

So how does this effect social media? It shows that, like Pandora, we’re going to have to learn our way on effectively building relationships with clients, agencies, and other key stakeholders in this unexplored territory. We’re going to have to learn how to dynamically position in the disparate roles we’ll be playing. We’re going to have to find our voices beyond the conversation we have with one another. Otherwise, it won’t be enough.

Hear hear! [Link courtesy of Trevor Cook]

Shel Holtz shares a cautionary tale of how a draft e-mail sent to the wrong people can cause a major crisis.

Todd Defren is offering bloggers some free badges to let PR people know if they’re open to pitching or not.  It’s a nice idea though I fear that it won’t stem the flow of ill-judged PR spam…

Social media ebooks, PRs and bloggers

I was giving a talk to a group of small business owners last night on the topic of social media.  One of the people at the meeting asked for some further reading on the topic and then I happened upon this post from Chris Brogan: 20 free ebooks on Social Media. I haven’t read them mind you :-) but as we all know reading expands the mind… or is reading “dead” along with everything else these days?

Susan Getgood asks why can’t bloggers and PR people just get along. I get along pretty well with myself, but I’m not sure that’s the aim of the post…

Good PR, creative ideas, social spending, disclosure and the future of blogging (or please say it ain’t so..)

I am wading through oodles of RSS feeds and e-mails, here are some things that caught my eye..


Filed under: "Rare as hen’s teeth": It is often impossible to find nice things written about our profession online.  Well ladies and gentlemen, we have one!  Shel Holtz has a great example of good work from a PR person, in this case Jim Babb at Circuit City.

The story took a turn for the great, though, when Jim Babb, who works in Circuit City’s corporate communications department in Richmond, Virginia, sent a note to Consumerist. The note is a lesson in how to handle what could have turned into a significant annoyance for Circuit City (the story got 1,935 Diggs, for example, and was covered in an AP story) featuring charges of censorship and allusions to the First Amendment.


[Aside: Shel has also  published a comprehensive list of social media resources. Worth a look.]



Via the bitemarks blog: A report from Jupiter Research has found that less than 5% of of advertisers’ online budgets are going into "social marketing" in 2008.  Some growth potential there I imagine.



Eoin Kennedy from Slattery Communications (and one of our PR firms in Ireland) has blogged about a new Facebook application they’ve created.  Get Creative provides a respository of creative ideas for marketing or PR programmes.

It is currently in beta testing on Facebook but the philosophy behind it is that you can search for ideas, add your own and comment on other peoples contributions to give them further life. Launched internally we have found that it helps people to start thinking more creatively and watching what trends, ideas and initiatives are happening all around them. It was born out of frustration of thinking up great ideas which disappeared into the far recesses of your mind before you could full capture them. It will be an interesting test of collaboration amongst the public relations, marketing and advertising sectors.



So the SEC has provided updated disclosure guidance. Neville Hobson has a good, detailed post on the subject.



ReadWriteWeb has a post on the "future of blogging revealed".  The future or a nightmare? Who has the time? The idle rich? Save me.

Devices of mass disruption… what is PR?.. Blog rankings… Web 2.0 fatigue…

Device of mass disruption or eh is it a phone?

Guys seriously I have stayed silent on this subject long enough. 

It’s a phone.

It’s not a six inch device of mass disruption.

Apple has done a good design job but I am bored to my back teeth with the ridiculous posts and tweets.

I had a radio on my cell phone in the late 90’s.  If these devices were going to disrupt/kill/change radio it would be more likely to happen with radios on MP3 players.

Why, oh why, is every 1.0 release of every 1.0 piece of hardware or software "game changing"?

Me? I love my HTC, fantastic resolution, full touch screen, proper camera, great keyboard for grown up e-mail and word processing, not to mention loads of software – and the best part?

It’s not threatening to kill any industries, take people’s jobs and the battery lasts more than 35 minutes and HTC don’t advise you to turn off the 3G, you can have all the speed you like baby.


*I debated whether to categorize this under "He would say that", and I did in the end. But regardless this is true.

What’s PR then?

Bill Sledzik takes a run at a unified definition of public relations working through a variety of textbook definitions.

Tom’s Opinion: This is a breath of fresh air, it’s great to get some informed writing on this topic.  Too often when PR is discussed, what’s really being discussed is "media relations", which although a major element of the profession is not the whole story.  This is also the reason why we see so much rubbish about the "death of PR".  The reality is that great communication remains a strong and valuable asset and Web 2.0 doesn’t change that.  Yes it’s about relationships (duh), yes it’s about understanding the tools and channels, but at the core it’s about great communication and and audience insight.

[Bill also tackles the issue of whether PR is part of marketing.]


PR Blog Ranking Mania:

Man it’s PR blog rank weekend an I’m sinking faster than a stone, however while I’m gurgling water, I’ll use one of my last breaths to pass congratulations to Stuart Bruce :-)

More here, here, here, oh and here.


Web 2.0 Fatigue

Lauren Vargas has an interesting post on Web 2.0 fatigue and how to avoid it, she has a really interesting video (though it’s a little out of date) at the foot of the post -  worth a watch!

PR depression, online PR slides, online journalism, Spectrum 48K, McDonalds, social media and the best telemarketing call ever…

From the perspective of a long-time PR practitioner, I have to admit that I find this thoroughly depressing.


Karen Miller Russell has an interesting post on measuring social media.  The post is based on content from the recent Edelmen summit in the US. Via Mr. Collister.


SlideShare has a collection on online presentations on the subject of (ahem) PR 2.0. Via Mr. Dugan.


And speaking of online slides, Neville Hobson shares some of the content from his recent CIPR talk.


Chris Green, Editor of UK publication IT Pro, shares his views that journalism online is about more than writing, it’s about search engine optimization, generating comments, and driving the visitor to read other content on the site. Andrew Bruce Smith has some detailed perspective.



Clive Sinclair pioneered bringing computing to the masses in the early 80s with the ZX80, ZX81 and the Spectrum 48K.  Chris Vallance from the BBC has an interview with the man himself… who doesn’t use the InterWeb :-)


Steve Rubel shares his views on how to get productive with social media, and I’m sure we can all do with help in that department. has an interview with Jill McDonald, McDonald’s Chief Marketing Officer for the UK and Northern Europe.

We’re not an online retailer, but our consumers are spending more and more time online, so what is the appropriate way for McDonalds to manifest itself online and engage and entertain our target audience? I really want us to take a step back as a brand and look at how we should be using the digital space.


If you haven’t already heard this Tom Mabe telemarketing call, I suggest you do, it’s absolutely fantastic..

Ireland: Online media shorts…

The Irish Times….

One of the Irish Times’ triumvirate of journalist bloggers, Shane Hegarty has announced he’s putting his “Present Tense” blog on ice for a while. (Interesting (to me anyway) there are over 70 comments on the post so far..). Then there were (as far as I know) two active official Irish Times blogs:

  1. Conor Pope’s PriceWatch blog
  2. Jim Carroll’s On the Record blog

[Other Irish Times related blogs: John Collins, Karlin Lillington, John Butler]


Newstalk 106….

In Irish Times (kind of) related news, Karlin Lillington has decided to step down from the Technology slot on Newstalk 106 but will be focusing her energies on a new podcast series. [I assume Mr. Joe Drumgoole is remaining in situ.]


Sunday Business Post

I didn’t know Nadine O’Regan from the Sunday Business Post had a blog.

[Other related blogs: Adrian Weckler]


Filed under “Other Irish media-related blogs I know”:


So what other ones am I missing?

In the spirit of Irish blog-operation… do please feel free to add any more local media blogs :-)


Cian GInty passed along a useful list he pulled together here.

The PR spam victims bite back… and the response…

Bad or irrelevant PR pitches are nothing new. 

Many of us, in our more quiet moments, will admit to probably not investing the time and effort we should have from time to time (a long time ago obviously :-) ). 

The key thing is to remember your mistake and learn from it. 

We’re seeing more journalists and bloggers publishing lists of PR firms they are blacklisting. [Ref: Chris Anderson last October]

Now a guy called Matt Haughey is doing something similar as has Gina Trapani.

See here and the PR Spammers Wiki for more details.

(For the more evil minded among you, although it’s a Wiki, you won’t be able to edit it without the right log-in.  You could always ask, but I get the feeling you won’t get a favourable hearing :-) )

Todd Defren, whose firm is on the list, has posted an “open post” (I am assuming that’s the correct blog equivalent…) to Gina.

I like it.  It’s conversational.

Brian Solis, whose firm is also on the list takes a different tack. (I have to admit I came away thinking about meat more than anything else and I’m not sure that was the objective!)

I hope that before any “holier than thou” PR person starts to crow, they stop and realize that we all live in greenhouses on this matter.

We should strive for best practice, reinforce the right and wrong way to communicate (online and offline) and reflect that sometimes mistakes happen, and sometimes people are more or less forgiving.

That’s not to say that I am adopting a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil stance on this matter.  To be honest, even this little blog receives a lot of “PR” pitches that don’t make the mark.

If you’re going to engage online, then for the love of jebus do some research.  That’s what Internet browsers and search engines are for…

On a related note, Alice Marshall offers some advice on the importance of being proactive before an issue arises rather than hiring shady companies to try and out rank negative blog posts.

Hear hear…