Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

What happens if I hit your kneecap?

If you’ve worked in any kind of Public Relations role for more than four or five minutes you’ll know the joy of knee jerking. Ah yes, nothing is more personal than a media story.

How many times have you taken calls from clients or colleagues who are outraged at something a journalist has written, which in the cold light of day is at worst case a mistake and best case the truth.

Your job (should you wish to accept it) is to bring the world of reality to your client. We live in an imperfect world.

Often what seems, at the time, to be a major injustice, is in reality, when observed with an objective viewpoint nothing.

One of the more unappealing aspects of blogs and blogging is this same knee jerk behavior.  It seems to me that people spend more time reacting to issues than actually thinking about them.

The most recent example is Molly Wood‘s article for CNET which I referenced below. Molly talks about how in a world full of blogs and rumor sites the traditional NDA tactics of technology vendors have passed their sell by date. I agree with her in many respects, and in fact for all the blog zealots out there, she’s actually saying that blogs are becoming a mainstream source of information.

Now you would have thought that was something that the bloggers would like – particularly as she linked to them.

Oh no.

Jason Calacanis, CEO of Weblogs.com fires a broadside at Molly entitled:

CNET tries to take down Engadget

Oh dear.

What follows is a self-serving rant on how wonderful weblogs.com is and how Molly is a bad journalist for not contacting them for comment. Now re-reading Molly’s column I still can’t work out why there would have been a need to contact them.  Furthermore did anyone notice the irony that Jason contradicts his entire argument by not contacting Molly for a comment?

He makes it worse by finishing up with what can only be described as the “throwing your rattle out of the pram” strategy:

You don�t own the news, and since you�re so interested in ethics you�ll be happy to know that I�ve launched my own little investigation into ethics at CNET. Anyone with information on ethics at CNET can call me at 310 828 8284 or send me details at jason at calacanis dot com.”

Jebus.

Now whilst I am not a ‘leading PR blogger’ (Edelman said so, so it must be true), I am an ‘old PR blogger’ (I said so, so it must be true) and one of the advantages of old age is experience and reason. 

This child-like rant serves no purpose other than to make Jason look like some sort of spoilt child.  He has completely mis-read Molly’s column, in my opinion, and of course in the blog echo chamber I’m sure his rant is getting more pick up than the original column.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the latest example of why traditional PR counsel is every bit as relevant today as in the past.  If Jason had some sensible PR advice he could have used this episode to his advantage rather than coming over as some sort of crank.

Always think before you push the send/publish button.

 

Written by Tom Murphy

May 5, 2005 at 8:47 am

Posted in General

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