It's OK, I'm a PR consultant…

I thought that since I haven’t been trawling the Internet for PR stuff in over a week there would be a wealth of news, views and links.  But it seems the Summer season is in motion and things are very quiet out there.

One interesting story I did come across was an opinion article in the Boston Globe written by PR practitioner Gene Denterlein of PR firm Denterlein Worldwide. The story looks at the implications of the recent court ruling that found there was a “client privelege” between PR practitioners and their clients.

While reading the article I thought one particular quote succinctly sums up why PR has a greater role to play in today’s complex and noisy media environment:

“In a society saturated by TV, radio, the Internet, and e-mail messages, no one, including the very real human beings who interpret and apply the law, can possibly block out the loud shouts vying to shape public debate.”

Good morning

Back from vacation and catching up on what’s been going on for the past week.  I’ve over two thousand five hundred spam messages waiting for me and only eight hundred have been caught by my spam filter.


Hello, it's me. You know, the business-nerd in the basement

Up2Speed have published a list of business blogs.  It’s worth a look.

On the upside they have included Cape Clear’s corporate blog and on the downside….

“I am not so much interested simply in B2B blogs written by business-nerds that track a particular niche but are really written in someone’s basement and have nothing to do with supporting an actual business venture.”

Jeez, I’m a business-nerd. Now that’s embarrassing.

Just do the truth…

The Sacremento Business Journal has a detailed piece on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to refer the Nike case back to Californian courts. Effectively the case centers around whether PR content comes under free speech or commercial speech. If the Californian courts find it is the latter then PR content (press releases etc.) is therefore subject to the same regulation as advertising etc.  Although this law is unique to California, it will affect any firm operating in California – read everyone.

The Portland Business Journal has a firm rebuttal from the PRSA.

I think the quote from Paul Vetter, president of the local PRSA chapter (see below) is a little over the top.

“Vetter sees a chilling effect from the decision, with companies cutting back their public communications to reduce their chances of ending up in court.

The Buzz about well buzz…

I’ve never been truly comfortable with the term “Buzz”.  It’s a little esoteric for my tastes.  Don’t get me wrong I understand the value it’s just that the term is a little fuzzy.

A new book published under the auspices of BrandWeek entitled “Buzz: Harness the Power of Influence and Create Demand”, which follows in the footsteps of previous books like “The Anatomy of Buzz”, is sure to create more interest around the whole Buzz concept. (Note: I didn’t say it would create Buzz 🙂

Richard Bailey points to an article in Fast Company that examines how smaller firms are using Buzz to compete with larger companies.

When I read the piece I couldn’t get the thought out of my mind, that maybe what we are doing is creating an alternative channel.  Most companies use a sales channel to distribute and promote goods in a traditional sense, but with Buzz there is an alternative influencers’ channel.  Where the “goods” are ideas.

I think that’s a nice way of looking at it and we could then stop using the term Buzz which makes me cringe every time I type it.

This is a typical buzz-related quote:

“Finding the superconnectors is the key to a targeted, successful buzz strategy. Go to the trend spreaders and plant yourself intelligently on their radar.” According to a May 2001 McKinsey & Co. study, 67% of U.S. consumer sales are influenced by word of mouth.

Follow up: Blog Relations

There was some interesting follow-up on yesterday’s post on Blog Relations.

Justin Hitt asks the question what’s the best way to target bloggers that are covering areas relevant to your business.  Dave at B2Blog responded that he appreciates well targeted pitches.

My thoughts on this particular issue is that most blogs are different.  Some will definetely be interested in relevant PR pitches (me for example) however many others will be defensive against what they see as commercial interests.  When you come across that type of blog, rather than pitching a story, sometimes it’s more beneficial to try and get a dialogue going. Do your executives have passionate views on relevant issues? Are there new trends in the area? These less commercial approaches can often be better.

The difficult thing from a PR perspective is you will only find out their preferences through reading their blog, understanding their audience and then carefully targeting them.  To add even more problems to the mix, many bloggers will want nothing to do with you.  But that’s life.

On the plus side, there are a host of bloggers willing to listen if your (product) pitch is interesting. Gene Smith points to Anil Dash’s account of a positive PR pitch.

So what does all this tell us? Well here are the takeaways for me:

  • There are no hard and fast rules – because blogging is in main a personal not commercial pursuit.
  • There are thousands of blogs ready and waiting to hear from you in traditional PR style
  • There are thousands of blogs who will never want to hear from you
  • There are thousands of blogs willing to engage in dialogue if it’s relevant and interesting to their subject matter

I think one of the final comments posted by Anil at the link above sums up the challenge nicely.  In response to a reader’s comment that he had been “played” by Fox, he wrote the following response:

“If you accept that promoting something in response to a request to do so is being “played”. I don’t. Sometimes my friends make websites and ask me to link to them. I don’t feel like they’re playing me, either.

I mean, I got a free DVD. What’d you get for pimping Jello on your site? Doing it for free seems more like you’re being played.”

Your challenge is to identify blogs that are relevant and understand which is the best approach. It’s PR 2003 style.

PR Nudist on the prison shift….

Over the past few years a lot of firms have had their wrists slapped for “viral” marketing like painting sidewalks and putting little stickers all over a downtown district. 

In most cases the offenders, normally large companies, have got away with stumping up for the cost of cleaning up the mess.  But what if your clever PR tactic resulted in a jail sentence?

In Seoul, the planners behind a PR launch of a new milk product (Director of Marketing at the client, Owner of the PR firm and the even co-ordinator) have been given six months in jail and a year probation for organizing a nude performance to mark the launch of a new milk product.

Now that seems like a perfect punishment for those behind the Raging Cow incident.

Blog Relations…. yes Blog Relations again.

Blog Relations: The practice of effectively communicating with your audience through the medium of weblogs (also known as ‘blogs’ and ‘online diaries’)

What Blog Relations is not:

  • Treating bloggers as second class journalists
  • Adding bloggers’ e-mail addresses to blind PR spam
  • Expecting that bloggers will write about you (or your client) because you have deigned to add them to your “exclusive” media list

Now I know, gentle reader that you think I am off on a tangent again.  But this posting has been prompted by a number of things. 

First off, B.L. Ochman, the tireless force behind the Adventive I-PR mailing list (which is now under the considerable wing of the Up2Speed folks) posted a thought provoking piece on how PR people are lagging behind in terms of adopting new technologies and techiques (sign-up for I-PR now if you’re not already on the list, it has fantastic peer-created PR content).

Secondly, a number of bungled Blog Relations attempts have come to light.

At the risk of appearing like a slightly deranged down-and-out muttering to myself (too late you cry!), here are some pointed observations:

One size doesn’t fit all
Your relationship with a blogger is not the same as with an anlayst or a journalist.  In most cases they are not writing for a living, nor do they answer to a higher authority – other than you-know-who.

Flirting is not for everyone
Just because XYZ Corp. has decided that a certain blogger is worthy of your valuable time, that does not necessarily mean they will be flattered by your attentions.

Sometimes no means no
Some bloggers will never accept PR approaches.  Full Stop.  Recognize them and move on.

The workmen and tools analogy
I can’t believe that some practitioners still breach the very basic rules on online communication.  Are some of you really still sending press releases as attachments? Tell me it ain’t so

A penny for them
Preparation and thought are two much ignored parts of PR.  Think about what you are doing.  If you think you’ll help your client by whacking out a press release to a few bloggers along with your usual suspects.  Think again.

Don’t give up
There are of course thousands of bloggers who will appreciate well targeted information that’s relevant to the blogger and their audience.  It’s your job to find them.


On a purely personal level, I recieve very few PR pitches (which means people are scared or no one is reading this blog – that’s kind of sad in either case 🙂

However, any PR pitches I have recieved, have been well written and relevant and I have written about them.

Matt Haughey has an interesting post on his experiences with PR people and Gene Smith has also posted some salient thoughts.