PR Opinions closes its doors…

[Cross-Posted] The PR Opinions blog first emerged blinking into the bright lights of the Interweb in March 2002. In the intervening four years (and over 1,400 posts), this blog has witnessed some incredibly interesting developments in the world of Public Relations and it has helped me to meet and connect with like-minded practitioners around the globe.

However, it’s time to make a change.

When I started PR Opinions there were only three other PR blogs [Jim, Phil and Richard] and I started it simply as a way to store links to interesting online PR content – 2002 style if you like. Today there are over 400 PR blogs, generating an amazing amount of content and opinions on the PR arena. PR Opinions’ raison d’etre is no longer valid.

So it’s time for a change. I’m putting PR Opinions in mothballs and moving to a shiny new blog which will continue to discuss the finer elements of Public Relations, still moan at the hype, but will also cover more diverse subjects that take my fancy.

My mother’s already changed her RSS feed subscription so I imagine traffic levels will remain unchanged. I’ve migrated all the archived PR Opinions posts and comments to a WordPress blog at:

I’ve already disabled the comments feature at due to the volume of spam.

If you’d like to make a comment feel free to visit the new blog.

Thanks to everyone who made PR Opinions so enjoyable, I hope you’ll stick around.

Tom Murphy

17th August, 2006

New Blog:

New PR Opinions Archive:

PR Miscellany – August 1 2006

  • Listen to your audience: John Scalzi offers a critique of two PR pitches he received for his blog. [Thanks to Trevor Cook]
  • For the love of all things holy listen to your audience: Doh!
  • Reading for the… well probably not the beach: Philip Young offers some higher end PR reading suggestions.
  • A chip on both shoulders: I can’t agree more with John Wagner’s post that it’s helpful to understand both sides of the Agency-Client dynamic. I think the empathy, understanding and insight you get on both sides of the fence is important.
  • The New PR: Leaving aside my aversion for the term “PR 2.0” – particularly given the fact that PR isn’t even in beta yet. Fair play to Todd Defren and the folks at Shift Communications who have released a new e-book on the changing PR landscape. It has all the bases covered: blogs, wikis, RSS, social media etc.
  • PR now available for download – but it ain’t pretty: 5W PR have created the first “Video PR pitch”… maybe it is actually time for 2.0. [Thanks to David Parmet]

Since I started in PR back in 1991 one of the constant issues I’ve seen discussed and batted around is the low barriers of entry to this profession. The phrase used to be “anyone with a typewriter and a phone”.

Although the professional bodies do a lot of good work there just doesn’t seem to be an appetite for regulation.

I personally think this is one (and only one of many) of the reasons for PR’s poor image. There’s a lot of bumblers out there with no ethics. Astroturfing is a great example. People adopting false identities, creating non-representative representative groups. It’s about as far away from “conversation” as you can get.

There’s some good news. Trevor Cook and Paul Young have kicked off a new anti-astroturfing initiative.

Of course this raises the question, can we stop astroturfing? I fear the answer is no. The very people who run these “campaigns” (and remember typically these campaigns aren’t just B2B PR, normally they are issue of public interest that affect you, your family, friends etc.) are the same people who would never support this. But that doesn’t matter IMHO.

What matters is that PR people are taking the lead in calling out this practice. I hope the next stage will be to publicly attack examples of astroturfing as they emerge.

This post leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

When a respected PR practitioner, who I have acknolwedged has in many respects been leading the way in online communication (as far as the large agency set go in any respect), takes time to write a pontificating post that takes a swipe at a competitor, I think it smells bad.

Now let’s be clear, GCI were well out of order, whether “Chris” is a Summer intern or an Account Director it doesn’t matter. The comment was ridiculous and shows GCI needs to do a better job educating it’s work force. They deserve a public slapping. We’re clear on that.

However, was that one comment a big enough issue for Mr. Edelman to (shock) publish a second post in a week? Is it an issue that is likely to shake the profession to it’s core? Is it the first time this has happened on a blog? Is there any more room on the pulpit? [Mr. Edelman is not the only one from the agency taking a pop.]

Well the answer to all those questions is no.

It smacks of opportunism.

I think Mr. Edelman should keep the number of a local glazier handy just in case. Maybe he can start writing posts about the everyday “malpractice” that is inflicted on journalists, bloggers and consumers every single day. That would keep him busy.

Chris at GCI, you are a bold boy (and probably not the brightest tool in the box), but I don’t condone the opportunism.

Jaysus what a crowd of preening self-appointed “experts” we have spawned up here on the InterWeb.

Oh you know them….

Dell, an oft maligned target of the Web 2.0 glitterati, have kicked off a blog. Now this is excellent. The company is making an effort to get a voice out on the Internet. Is it perfect? Eh no. Is that the most important thing? No.

What’s most important is they are getting out there. What’s most important is that they are willing to have a discussion.

The reaction from the blogerrati, many of whom are jumping hysterically all over their efforts, belies the immaturity of this thing we call blogging.

Get over it folks.

Well done Dell, keep working on it. Listen to feedback, engage in conversation and learn.

Some measured commentary from Kevin Dugan, Shel Holtz and Andy Lark.

Did I miss the election where all the experts were voted in?

You know there’s a bubble coming.

In “Interweb time” the bust was a long time ago and the frenzy of “Web 2.0” start-ups and services would seem to predicate an Internet Boom 2.0.

This is particularly obvious when you look at some of the new services.

How about a press release distribution service that offers to send your press release to bloggers.

Feel free to read that line again, it is what it says.

Now a service like that could only be set up by someone who hasn’t spent a lot of time blogging. Because believe me, after a couple of months of blog posts the PR spam e-mail will start to arrive promoting irrelevant companies and products that you have no interest in.

Why would you sign up to recieve these releases? Let me re-phrase that. Why would anyone in their right mind think that you, a blogger, would sign up for the service? Beats me.

According to themselves, The WeblogWire came about following a challenge to:
“build a viable web startup in 1 week, while spending no more than $500.”

I hope they gave the $450 they had left over to their investors.

Darren Barefoot put his $50 where his sarcasm was and posted a press release over the wire entitled:
“Marketer Intends to Write Blog Post Criticizing The WeblogWire”

The press release was duly published but was pulled soon after. He’s still waiting for news of his $50….

Come back Tom Foremski all is forgiven :-)

Greetings. Busy July so far. Hence slow posting.

Doing some thinking about this blog, but more about that anon. In the meantime, here’s some interesting stuff I’ve been reading recently:

  • David Parmet illustrates why PR will always have image issues.
  • Jim Horton has a link to to an article that looks at the changes taking place in our “audience”. Meanwhile John Wagner advises you’ll need a customer plan for potential blog issues.
  • The Hobson and Holtz Report continues, podcast 152 is now online.
  • Philip Young asks what is New PR?
  • Piaras Kelly has a link to a video of a really interesting presentation from Guy Kawasaki on start-ups.
  • Stuart Bruce reports on the CIPR’s Northern Conference.
  • Brian Oberkirch is now blogging at:
  • Derek Miller has some great resources on Presentations.
  • Congratulations to Stephen Davies on his new role at Edelman. In fairness they are walking the walk and with Stephen they’ve landed a great guy.
  • Oh an of course congratulations to the Azzuri..

Greetings, just back from a much needed week’s vacation, so I’m currently fighting a backlog of e-mail, tasks, calls, messages, comment spam and RSS feeds. Normal service will resumed shortly.

In the meantime, one interesting announcement today is a free download (from my employer) that will enable you to add a Creative Commons license to your Word, PowerPoint or Excel document.

Well I thought it was interesting…

  • Jeremy Pepper is in Seattle this week, but unfortunately due to conflicting schedules it looks like we won’t be able to meet up. He reports on a very interesting story from Information Week that press releases have overtaken trade journals as a source of information for information workers – and without any XML I bet. Are you listening Tom Foremski?
  • Another senior agency blog. Frank Shaw, president of Waggener Edstrom has a blog.
  • Keith Jackson over at Trevor Cook’s Corporate Engagement blog shares the nine best practice indicators for effective issues management according to the Issue Management Council.
  • Charles Arthur of the UK Guardian shares some pointers on feature writing.[Thanks to Stuart]
  • Todd Defren has a great example of someone cutting off their nose to spite their face agency style… life is too short for this.

Lauren Vargas takes me to task for my post on PR 2.0.

She believes that what’s required when it comes to PR, and the new brave world of online services, is a revolution:

“While tools may be evolving, a revolution in the communicator’s mindset must first occur. We do not have time for a gradual change of a communication professional’s thinking. Thinking is our problem! However ironic this might be for our creative industry. Part of the existing toolset is the mind and this needs an overhaul. Techniques/tools are a symptom manifested from our thinking. Scary concept.”

Mmmm. I’m still not buying.

The only thing that matters here is your audience. How is your audience finding, sharing and using information? Are they exclusively doing that all online? Maybe some very small sub-niches are doing that, but the majority are not… certainly not yet.

Life is rarely that simple. People still read newspapers, still listen to the radio, watch TV, talk with friends etc. Why are we in such a hurry to throw all that away for the online alternative?

I don’t buy it.

For some PR practitioners there is an increasing online element, for others it’s very limited.

If we can agree that successful communication is about the audience, and I am assuming we can, then our focus should be on building better insights into how those audiences want to communicate. It’s about being pragmatic about how we communicate, whether that is in townhall meetings, direct mail, media relations, face-to-face, by telephone, e-mail, instant messaging – whatever.

Talk of a revolution reminds me of the boom, and the boom failed because people thought of revolution rather than evolution.

Let’s all relax. Let’s focus on getting a better understanding of how our audiences want to communicate and then let’s focus on doing that well.

Rushing off to the shiny new new thing isn’t the answer. Effective, pragmatic communication is all about taking the best of what we have and merging that with best practice online. I realize that this may not by sexy, cool, hip or ground breaking, but it’s likely to be far more effective. That’s what pays the bills.