The killer application of blogs….

One of the bonuses (?) of the proliferation of blogs is that they provide a window into events or angles on events that you would have been hard pushed to find in the past.

One good example is PR agency bashes. 

Whether its Text 100 (my alma mater) opening a new San Francisco office, or Bite Communications opening their new office or even the Horn Group celebrating 13 years in business you can find out all you want….

Of course that may be a blog too far… but interesting all the same.


Party coverage courtesy of Tom Foremski.

PR Misc – November 17, 2004

 Mike Manuel looks at the role prominent corporate bloggers such as Robert Scoble and Jeremy Zawodny play in their corporations.  They are in effect evangelists. 

Of course this is nothing new.  Microsoft has employed armies of evangelists as long as they have been building software. What’s new is that those traditional evangelists are now supplemented online and potentially reaching more people in less time.

 Trevor Cook points to a talk that Jay Rosen, who is one of the foremost thinkers on journalism and online media, recently gave at a conference in Toronto.  Trevor points out that:

“Note blogging is not a replacement or substitute for mass media, it supplements and enhances the media environment by offering an alternative for people who want more on a particular subject or viewpoint than what’s currently available on TV and in newspapers.”

I think that’s a fantastic summary of where blogs fit in the media landscape.

 Meanwhile Jeremy Pepper unearthed this feature on Jonathan Cheban the NY celebrity publicist. If ever there was an article that highlighted the antithesis of my daily PR life this is it.  I’m sure for many people this lifestyle-profession is a dream come through – for me it’s the worst nightmare….

 Jupiter analyst Michael Gartenberg provides some corporate blog advice in Computerworld:

“Independent bloggers who identify their employers on their weblogs had better know what the consequences will be at work. For example, in many industries, employees may not know that there are regulatory issues that mean certain things can’t be spoken about casually. Of course, this isn’t a new problem that has just arisen with the dawn of blogging; many companies forbid employees to speak with journalists or the media about the company unless they have had media training or public relations folks are present. There’s a reason for that, and it’s important for every business to extend its policies to include guidelines on what can and can’t be said in personal weblogs.”

Passion, PR and blogging redux….

Thanks to everyone for the fantastic feedback both through comments and e-mail following my posts on blog relations, and the need for PR people to stand up for their profession.

Blog Relations

Probably the largest response I received to the call for ‘PR blog case studies’ were e-mails from practitioners who are relatively new to blogs.  The common theme in their e-mails was that they are desperately trying to understand the tool, how to use it, how to monitor it productively, and how to incorporate it in ongoing communications programs. 

I believe that that is a good, albeit statistically insignificant, measure of the current maturity of blogs.

We’re still at the early stages of blog relations. That was my belief and I called for blog case studies to see if maybe I was wrong.  For once I wasn’t.

Hopefully I’ll tackle the questions raised in those e-mails in the near future.

PR’s Image Problem

Jim Horton commented:

“Give up notions of regulating PR. It won’t happen in the US because of the First Amendment. It is doubtful that it will happen anytime soon in other countries.”

I completely agree.  These efforts have failed in the past so it’s unlikely they will suceed in the future.

However, I don’t think that means we should ignore the problem of PR’s image.

What’s clear is that the only way to change the misperception of PR is that individuals must take responsibility — collective responsibility.

I think Piaras Kelly has a point regarding the international code of ethics as a starting point for establishing acceptable behavior.

However, if you as a PR professional are interested in improving the profile of your profession, it is up to you to do something about it.

Only when individual practitioners take a stand, can we turn the tide of negative publicity. At the very least it might force people to re-examine their perceptions.


Why PR practitioners need to stand up and be counted…..

Probably the single issue that unites (or should unite) Public Relations practitioners, regardless of your industry or discipline is the profession’s image.

PR suffers more than any single profession, possibly with the exception of the law, from misperceptions, sterotypes and ignorance.

Of course the irony of this situation isn’t lost on anyone.

It is time that right minded practitioners stood up to these issues.  Industry bodies have in the past, with the best of intentions, tried to tackle these issues but for a variety of reasons they’ve had little success.

What is required is for PR people to stand up, address issues, highlight poor practice, respond to ill-informed criticism and stop accepting untruths.

The profession’s image isn’t helped by the unethical practices of high profile “practitioners” or the never ending list of shoddy and unprofessional people purporting to implement PR campaigns when it’s clear they don’t understand the very basics of good communications.

What is required is Passion.  If you enjoy your job, if you believe that PR provides a positive, useful and important service in helping individuals and organizations communicate, then stand up and fight.  Surely it’s time to damn malpractice and protect what PR stands for.

Maybe I am living in a world of my own, but I am passionate about this. I don’t accept that PR should by synonomous with spin, dishonesty or stupidity. 

PR is a fantastic career. It is challenging. It provides an important service not just to global multinationals but to non-profit organizations and individuals.

The only way to tackle these negative perceptions is for every right-minded practitioner to be counted on this issue. You must take responsibility for your own profession.

Gerry McCusker has made a start in the UK Edition of PR Week:

“In fact, after I added too much salt when cooking risotto for friends the other night, that was, in its own small way, a PR disaster: my reputation as a convivial host lay in shreds……. If you believe everything that you read, watch and hear in the media, a PR disaster is anything that causes embarrassing or negative publicity for any given organisation or entity. And I’m sick of it – sick of PR getting it in the neck. More than that, though, I’m really cheesed off that the profession I’ve studied, practised then studied and practised again over the past 20 years is becoming almost synonymous with the word ‘disaster’ – and no one in our industry seems ready to combat these ongoing and damaging slurs against our reputation.”

Too right..


Thanks for JC for the link!

Outsourcing… is PR next?

When I first saw this news feature from the UK’s Sunday Herald I immediately dismissed it as rubbish.  However, maybe I was a little too hasty.

But others argue that this only applies to media relations, and that there are plenty of lower-end jobs that could grow legs. Anne Gregory, the president of the Institute of Public Relations (IPR), says: �I think some of the elements of practical PR are becoming commoditised and therefore price sensitive. I could certainly see online research going out to India. Press releases could be written there if they were the sort that just required people to put words on paper � technical press releases like product updates.�

As services such as media monitoring are outsourced, what will be next?

I personally don’t agree with this idea. PR in all its forms (this article in common with 95% of articles on PR, focuses on media relations) requires local knowledge and expertise. While some of the more mundane operational activities may be outsourced, I think anyone considering it should be very very careful.

It reminds me of the “media list” argument. Agency A will build a media list for their client at a rate of $50 per hour (using relatively inexperienced staff) while Agency B will build a media list at $90 per hour (using senior staff).

The likelihood is that Agency A’s actual list may come in cheaper, but is it as good as Agency B’s list? Probably not.

Cost is a factor in every business planning decision, but return on investment is how we are all primarily measured.

I would take a lot convincing that outsourcing is the best alternative.  I would also expect that agencies were completely transparent.  If they’re saving lots of cost and I have agreed with the process, those savings had better be passed on. I would have no hesitation is reviewing the account should they attempt to hide this practice….

PR Misc – November 16, 2004

 MediaInsider has an interesting case study on a crisis communications planning exercise which used new technology to alert and bring together participants at a “test” crisis.

 Marc Snyder, who is back blogging again, points to the ZDNET UK’s ever vengeful Rupert Goodwins and his latest PR run-in, this time a press release on a T-Shirt. I kid you not. No wonder he’s angry…

 As showcased by the “press release on a T-Shirt” episode, there’s a thin line between innovation and disaster.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide which particular category this  Flash CV fits into….

 Elizabeth Albrycht has discovered the Social Customer Manifesto. Great idea, but I wouldn’t be waiting for companies to sign up…

 I see that one of the world’s most interesting PR accounts is up for review. Amazon is one of the brands most firms would die for.

 While this is quite anti-PR, I have to admit that this Washington Post piece by Gene Weingarten raised a smile this morning.  After all ANYONE who refers to themselves as “Mr. PR” deserves everything they get….



What is news?

Iain Frazer-Halpin from Pleon, takes a detailed look at how a story becomes news. I have to admit it’s a bit of work to get into the article but it’s an interesting concept and worth the effort. 

“The insight that news is a disruption in the intuitive narrative and that this sets in motion a train of events in which we try to grasp �what comes next� reinforces a strongly held belief: information alone is not news. Giving information to journalists who are deluged with press releases and who have access to the biggest repository the world has ever known – the Web – is akin to pouring water on a drowning man. What is of value to a journalist is information in context; and that context is given by the narrative flow of the audiences for whom the journalist is writing.”

PR blogs… the volume is rising…

When you go away for a couple of days, trying to catch up with blog reading is a major task even using RSS.  I have always wondered when does a blog move from being useful to providing too much content? Does it ever?

Mike Manuel has done some interesting, albeit non-scientific research on the volume of PR blogging.

I’m not sure volume is the best indicator.  There are a wide range of different posting habits among the PR blogs. For example, Jim Horton only posts once a day, but his posts are insightful and valuable. At the other end of the spectrum you have Trevor, Neville, Robb and Steve who have fantastic multiple posts every day and then a group in the middle.

I read and enjoy them all, but I’m not sure there’s one formula that’s better than the other. 

I started the PR Misc postings some time ago as a means of providing a lot of links to relevant information without putting in individual posts. I wonder is that the best approach or should every link have its own posting?

Who knows? Do you care? Probably not…..


By the way I had a staggering response to my call for PR blog case studies. Yes indeed we had one response. So there are three scenarios:

  1. No one is pitching blogs
  2. No one wants to share their experiences
  3. No one reads this blog

All three are strong possibilities at this point.