PR Misc, October 29, 2004

 PR blogger, John Cass is moderating a session in Waltham, MA on November 11, 2004 on ï¿½Blogging: How companies are using blogs to engage their audiences and build brand�. Panelists include representatives from Macromedia and fellow PR blogger Greg Brooks.

 Michael O’Connor Clarke gives his views on the role PR can play in the creation of corporate blog content. (Amended)

 Neville Hobson is looking for a new PR challenge.

 Dan Forbush over at PR Newswire has announced that their popular Media Insider site will now be available exclusively as a blog [via Trevor Cook]

 Dan Gillmor scooped the 2004 World Technology Award for Media & Journalism. [via Mike Manuel]

 A new blog, SiliconBeat, written by Matt Marshall and Michael Bazeley, will cover technology innvoation in Silicon Valley and the money that drives it. [via Giovanni Rodriguez]

 The latest issue of Bacon’s Expert PR news letter is out with articles on persuasive pitching, photographers’ pet peeves, blogs, speech making, client retention and traditional media and new technology.

 Blog Navigator is a new RSS feed reader worth a look – I love the way it searches for previous reader installations and offers to migrate those feeds.

The children of the boom….

The Internet boom was a period of excess that we’ll probably never see at the same scale again… hopefully.

If you worked in PR during that time, and in particular technology PR, it was at once both amazing and scary.

Technology companies (and PR) moved center stage, money was no object, fees went through the roof and although I’ve no data to prove it, I imagine the number of people employed in Public Relations swelled to unknown levels.

The aftershock of the bubble was severe. All of a sudden, to quote my CEO, someone found the gravity switch and turned it on.

Layoffs, agency closures, salary reductions and changed expectations were the order of the day and in 2004 we’re still in recovery mode.

As Jim Horton observes:

“It was a pity society misled so many into thinking they were going to do well from the beginning and rise to riches. What happened in California was a Gold Rush and like the original Gold Rush of 1849, it lasted five years until most went bust. I suspect the class of 1999 has a hard-earned conservatism about money and lifestyle. It was and is much needed and not so bad. How many SUVs do we need on the road anyway?”

One of the major trends of this has been the advent of a new generation of sole PR practitioners and small firms who are building successful careers and businesses offering targeted services.  But what about the graduates who emerged during the boom and accepted it as the normal business environment?

The Associated Press has a sobering article that looks at how graduates of the boom have been managing in a tough economy.

The Boston public relations firm where she interned during her senior year promoted Erk to a full-time employee. It was 1999, the economy was booming, and Erk’s higher-ups told her she’d be a vice president in a few years.

But the past five years haven’t brought slick suits or a corner office. By 2001, Erk found herself unemployed and struggling to make her rent, pay her utilities and feed her cats.

It's the communication stupid…

Dan Gillmor recently received a blundering PR pitch on behalf of a company that offers online monitoring services.

One of their pitch “ideas” to Dan was:

“What F1000 Companies are doing to take action against bloggers”

The post includes loads of comments from Dan’s readers covering blogs, PR, journalism and a combination of all three.  Many of the comments try to re-iterate the standard steroypes of journalists, public relations pros and bloggers.

It’s a great illustration of the common misperceptions that plague this subject.

So here’s my take.

Public Relations is about the PUBLIC

PR does not stand for press relations.  Just because that’s the high profile element does not mean it’s true.  If you are conducting PUBLIC relations campaigns and programs that are aimed at helping organizations achieve specific objectives, you’ll soon realize that while the media are very important, they are one constituent.  Effective PR also reaches out to staff, partners, customers, prospects, analysts, distributors, friends and family, regulators, industry bodies, investors, the local community and yes even bloggers.

Blogging is not THE conversation

Blogging provides a great means of communication.  It can provide a useful means of engaging with your audience in a more personal manner.  It can stimulate debate.  Reaching out to bloggers can help reach your audience.  But guess what, there are other conversations you need to have as well.  You need to build dialogue with journalists, analysts, staff etc.  These conversations will NOT all happen through weblogs. Blogging promotes good discipline on how to communicate in a more personal manner. But if you are only promoting conversation through blogs then you are missing the point.  The widely respected Cluetrain Manifesto pre-dated blogging and it covered all facets of communication.

Revenge and leverage are yesterday’s tactics

The changes in how people receive, use and share information affects every element of a Public Relations campaign. The re-emerging art of conversation provides a fantastic opportunity to re-engage audiences.  Conversation is not exclusive to good news.  In fact, conversation can often be most effective when dealing with problematic or contentious relationships. For example, organizations often publicly keep score with journalists or analysts they believe have treated them unfairly.  Does that make the situation better? Does that solve the problem? No. Building a conversation with your adversaries, addressing their issues is the best way forward.  There will always be battles you simply can’t win, but at least be engaging in open dialogue you give yourself a chance of turning a bad situation to your advantage.

Control is mis-understood

Controlling any audience these days is fast becoming a myth. The free flow of information, the advent of independent bloggers and the pressures on journalists and analysts are fast making control the PR equivalent of Atlantis. It’s a great idea but you’ll never get there. If you approach PR with control in mind you will miss it’s greatest potential – connecting and communicating with your audience.

Remember the basics

Effective PR comes from solid foundations.  Get the basics of your campaign right.  Who are you communicating with? What are your communicating? Why are you communicating? How are you communicating? What are the problems and issues? Understand the challenges and the opportunities.  Tie your programs to your client’s business objectives.  These basic building blocks provide the best way forward for a successful campaign.


I think Dan summarizes these views perfectly in his closing comment:

“No doubt, what’s happening is messy. That makes everyone uncomfortable, especially those of us who grew up in a relatively centralized, top-down media environment. But complaining about it won’t work. Dealing with it — not as a threat but an opportunity — is the only rational answer.”




Talking about the elephant in the room….

Nope it’s not a political post, the elephant we’re talking about (or not talking about) is PR measurement.

The last great unconquered area of Public Relations.

However there may be some good news in the area of media relations measurement.

KD Paine & Partners have just released a new service called the DIY Dashboard that promises to provide media relations measurement for $50 a month.

The DIY Dashboard system starts with an in-depth consultation with KDPaine & Partners to define the specific metrics that you want to track. KDPaine & Partners developers then customize the application to produce data based on those specific metrics.

If you have your own clips, you can start entering data right away and produce a performance report in minutes. If you don�t have the clips, you can import data from Factiva, Nexis, CustomScoop, Cyberalert or any other XML feed. You then code the clips and instantly produce the requisite charts.

How do you know you've already arrived?

It’s probably fair to say that you know you’ve arrived when you bring along two of your friends to keynote at your industry’s premier event and they both attract standing room only crowds.

That was Howard Rubenstein’s achievement at the PRSA’s 2004 conference in New York which finished up yesterday. His friends Larry King and Donald Trump regaled packed auditorium’s with their take on Public Relations. Rubenstein’s longevity in this business alone, he celebrates fifty years this year, is an achievement. But his influence, his success and his committment to pro-bono projects is a credit to him.

PR Week has great coverage from the event.

They cover Larry King’s talk:

King dismissed the notion that PR people are bothersome to or unwelcome by journalists. “I think they’re valuable to broadcasters,” King said, to an applauding audience. “Some of my best moments have come from a guest pitched by a PR person.”

And they have a very interesting story on Donald Trump’s session and his ten tips for success. I’m sure number nine is very relevant for most of us….

1) Stay focused.
2) Think big: “Go for the big client. Go for the big reputation.”
3) Enjoy what you do – or you won’t be good at it.
4) Never give up: “If there’s a concrete wall in front of you, you have to go through that wall.”
5) Be (a little) paranoid; even your friends will walk all over you to get ahead.
6) Momentum: “You have to know when you’ve lost your momentum. Don’t expect anyone to be on your side.”
7) Be lucky. Some people are naturally lucky, but luck also comes to those who work hard.
8) Get even: “If someone gets you, get them back. They’ll learn their lesson if you know what you’re doing.”
9) Always have a prenuptial agreement.
10) To be a winner, you have to think like a winner


  • You can hear a short audio interview with Rubenstein at the PRSA conference where he shares his views on how PR has changed over the past fifty years here (MP3)
  • Many many years ago, I attended a meeting in Rubenstein’s offices in New York, not to meet with him you understand, just attend a meeting! I was struck by the marked difference in the layout and atmosphere of their office compared to the high-tech PR agency environments I was used to at the time.

Managing e-mail – upwards and downwards…

Anything that helps to make the daily deluge of e-mail more effective is worthwhile.

Stever Robbins offers some ways to make e-mail more effective.

This suggestions will go down well with your boss 🙂

If you are constantly copied on things, begin replying to e-mails that aren’t relevant with the single word: “Relevant?” Of course, you explain that this is a favor to them. Now, they can learn what is and isn’t relevant to you. Beforehand, tell them the goal is to calibrate relevance, not to criticize or put them down and encourage them to send you relevancy challenges as well. Pretty soon, you’ll be so well trained you’ll be positively productive!


Link courtesy of the excellent Online Business Networks blog.

The advent of Flackster…

Long-time blogging PR maestro Michael O’Connor Clarke, who among other things was the first PR pro to have a speaking slot at a major blogging conference, has kicked off a new blog venture, Flackster.

It’s part of the Corante stable of blogs which deal with areas from venture capital to e-business and communications.

Michael’s mission statement for the new blog is:

Flackster explores, through the voices of PR professionals, journalists, cultural commentators and others, how the rapid rise of social media and participatory journalism is impacting both the business of news reporting and the role of public relations.

Michael’s always worth a read.