Glutton for punishment….

I have always believed that the PR person shouldn’t really become the story.  At the very least you should try and avoid it.

Unfortunately Lizzie Grubman (and many others) doesn’t agree.

Many of you will remember Lizzie as the PR person who mowed down some people who were quietly minding their business while queuing outside a club in the Hamptons, before driving off.

The incident generated a lot of negative publicity, funny that.

Now it’s emerged that Lizzie’s latest step on the road to redemption is a starring role in a new MTV reality series “PoweR Girls”.

Oh my lord. An AbFab reality series.

It’s a strange strategy she’s taken – though no doubt it’ll be a big success. Unfortunately it’s bound to reinforce the usual sterotypes about working in PR. Which is fine if you’re closer to Lizzie’s world, but looks foreign to poor old business-to-business grunts sitting in the windowless office in the basement.


Some previous posts on Lizzie:


Gorilla Marketing Awards…

I’ve had received two “Gorilla Marketing” award nominations for Real Networks.

Both nominations centered around the Freedom of Music Choice campaign and in particular the online petition “Hey Apple Don’t Break My iPod”

After a lot of consideration I’ve decided against it.

Although the petition should have made full disclosure that it was created by Real Networks, it does provide a link to the Freedom of  Music Choice website – which is clearly driven by Real Networks.

The campaign has generated a lot of ink, though personally it rings a little hollow.


Murphy's Law #3,455: The better the tools the higher the expectations…

One of the interesting changes online is that we now have at our disposal, powerful technology for communicating with each other and with groups.

The corollary is that people’s expectations have grown in line with these advances.

People expect companies to communicate with them based on their preferences.  They want plain text e-mail, they only want information on product X, they prefer RSS feeds… whatever.

The simple fact is that if your organization isn’t properly managing your databases then you could have some very upset consumers on your hands.

Media relations is facing a similar challenge.  Journalists know that MediaMap and Vocus hold vast volumes of information on journalists, analysts and bloggers. But they also have expectations that PR people will use the technology at their disposal to fine tune a pitch.

The simple fact is that a lot of information in online media databases is out of date – regardless of the sales pitch. So it’s important you only use the databases as a reference point. Before putting your finger on the “send e-mail” icon, make sure you’ve done your due diligence.  The risk is you’ll look ridiculous.

Steve Rubel points to a great example of this. Jeremy Wagstaff recounts a media database-driven pitch that was a little wide of the mark:

“Bottom line: I don’t mind being pitched. And I don’t mind it that much if the product is actually either too old to really get excited about, or too far away from the stores to burden readers with it. But couldn’t these media research databases, and the people who use them, do a bit of basic research (it’s called ‘Googling’) before they fire off their pitches? We bloggers, just like journalists, are a sensitive lot and hate to feel we’re being taken for a ride by folk who haven’t done their homework first. Otherwise it looks dangerously like spam.”



This is another illustration (if it were needed) of the perils of pitching bloggers…. You may end up reading your pitch online…

Search Engine Research…

It’s not all bad news for Google.  Research just published by the Pew Internet & American Life Project and reported by EMarketer has found that 85% of US Internet users seek information through search engines.

Google still leads the way with 47% of respondents with Yahoo in second place (26%) and MSN and AOL limping in with 7% and 5% respectively.

One of the stranger findings was that 50% of respondents reported that while they like search engines, they could definetely go back to alternative methods of using and navigating the Internet. I think I am firmly with the 32% that couldn’t live without search engines…

68% of respondents felt that search engines are a “fair and unbiased source of information”, while 87% said they find the information they are looking for through search engines “most of the time” or “always”.

Another reason why search engine optimization is becoming one of the most important elements of the online marketing mix….

Build redundancy into those successful PR plans

Human nature is a fickle thing. 

The one guarantee for a successful company is that at some point in the future, people will tire of your success and will turn on you.  Of course this transition from hero to zero will often be aided by the fact that successful firms often believe their own hype and lose the run of themselves.

What’s interesting is that in the crazy 24×7 media environment where we now live, these boom-bust cycles are reducing all the time.

Think about this.  Microsoft was a poster child for just over twenty years before the wheels started coming off the perfectly manicured profile of innovation, intelligence and great marketing.

Today a company’s honeymoon period will never last twenty years. 

Look at Google. They have executed a staggering PR and Marketing campaign. The company joined a “stagnant” product category that was, at the time, saturated with large players. Google not only built a business, they changed how people used the Internet – and generated billions of dollars of cash along the way.

Now with their imminent IPO there’s a growing wave of cynicism surrounding the company.  The combination of dutch share auctions, profiles in Playboy, and millions of bloggers is taking some, though not all, of the sheen off the Google logo.

The lesson for PR professionals here is simple. If you are executing brilliant campaigns, achieving your objectives and building a successful business, then you should be aware that at some point in the future things are going to get difficult. 

Rather than waiting for that to happen, think about it, understand it and plan for it. It is an inevitable result of success.

“Google has become an embarrassment for the entire tech industry. Google should pull its IPO and come back later. If the company won’t do that, the SEC should stop the IPO for an extended period while the company tries something it can handle–like a traditional IPO. The auction format looks more like a means to separate unsophisticated investors from their money that a means of letting the �little people� in on the riches.” – Dave Coursey, EWeek


On related search matters:



Thanks to Jeremy and Robb for the links.

Second Winner: PR Opinions Gorilla Marketing Award

The PR Opinions Academy is delighted to announce the second winner of its prestigous PR Opinions Gorilla Marketing Award….

And the winner is…. Warner Brothers.

The company has merited this award for the spirited defense of their organization through anonymous (read: employees) postings on music websites and blogs.

According to The New York Times:

“But as is sometimes the case when marketers try to insinuate themselves into online communities, the company’s approach did not go as planned. Warner – which was part of the Time Warner media empire until February, when it was sold to a group of investors led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. – ran into a culture clash with the small world of MP3 blogs, annoying some of the very people it wanted to win over, especially after one or more people at Warner apparently posted anonymous messages to make it appear that ordinary music fans were defending the label.”

Now in fairness to Warner Bros. they deserve a lot of credit for initially attempting to promote their band through weblogs.  That is a good idea and one, I personally, give them a lot of credit for. 

However, in the aftermath of that positive initiative having staff members post anonymously on message boards in the company’s defence  has undone most of the good of the original campaign:

“But Ms. Bechtel (of Warner Bors.) said this kind of activity was not part of the Secret Machines campaign. She said the comments could have been posted independently by fans of the band who worked at the company. “We’re not sitting here typing in message boards that the band is great,” she said. “But if somebody in the building loves the band, I can see them doing it. People at record companies are also huge fans.”


Ladies and Gentlemen if we take Ms. Bechtel at her word – and I have no reason not to – then this is a great example for Public Relations practitioners on the importance of clear internal communication on acceptable online behaviour. If you’re posting your “personal” preference from your work computer it has repucussions for your employer.


Either way, they still win the award….

About the award:

The Gorilla Marketing Award was created to recognize companies whose “ham fisted attempts at Guerilla marketing should really be called “Gorilla Marketing” because of its unimaginative fumbling efforts at creating buzz (a term I’m not hugely fond of).”

Previous winner.


It looks like New Zealand travel website Ticketek could deserve a baby Gorilla award

PR Misc – August 18, 2004

 Jim Horton points to a Fast Company interview with Mona Williams, VP of Corporate Communications at embattled Wal-Mart.

“First, we determine if the criticism is valid or if it’s generated by people who are simply looking out for their own self-interest. We’ve found that there is some of both. Where it is valid, we learn from it and become a better company.”

 Colin McKay has unearthed an interesting lengthy paper that looks at the changing dynamics of communication and reputation being created by the Internet – and how people are developing strategies to help them cope with information overload.

This kind of thinking is important for PR practitioners.  Online communication increasingly requires a deeper understanding of how people find, use and share information.  Furthermore, if you are truly interested in Public Relations, then your expertise will need to extend across all audiences and media, not just the traditional suspects.

“But for inbound reputation � the reputation that others form about you � there will be a shifting balance between your right to privacy and the reputation former�s right to share and collaborate with others. Those with public functions � politicians, doctors, lawyers, professors, and so forth � can expect to be more exposed in roles where others have legitimate interests. A dentist�s reputation as a dentist may be public, while the same dentist�s reputation as a debater need not be. It is easy to foresee intense debates, differing legal interpretations, and the emergence of customs on this issue, similar to existing tensions on the desirable scope of intellectual property rights.”

The authors Hassan Masum and Yi-Cheng Zhang are writing a book based on the paper called “The Reputation Society”

 I just came across Neville Hobson’s blog on business communication and technology.  He notes that there’s now an RSS-feed based calendar application available that enables you to share your calendar – and update it over RSS. A great example of innovative thinking.

Changing this and that

If you’ve been keeping up to date on your blog reading you’ll no doubt have come across ChangeThis, a new website that aims to publish thought provoking opinion pieces (or manifestos) on a whole host of subjects.

They’ve done a fantastic job reaching out to the blog community and have garnered a lot of blog inches and links already.

Catherine Hickey, one of the people behind ChangeThis describes the site as follows: “our mission is to find compelling arguments and pieces that make a point.”

The opening salvo of content includesa variety of themes:

It’s worth a look!