Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Google Frightens Me

And, if you are in public relations, it should frighten you as well.

Why? Because it's the rebirth of the dot-com era, which hurt public relations in such a way that we are still recovering from it (okay, it's been brought to my attention that still recovering might be wrong - it might be that we we are still trying to crawl out from underneath the mess). The Google IPO will set back the industry a year, at the least.

Here are just 4 reasons that the Google IPO frightens me, and should worry the industry.

  1. Google's IPO will bring their market valuation on-par with Sony, higher than Yahoo!. Stop and think about that for one second - a company with one revenue stream (paid advertisements) going for $100+ a share, when it should really be a $20 a share stock - and that will be worth more than Sony, a company with products.
  2. The company does not value public relations. From sources, I am told that the person in charge of PR was a former blogger / online journalist. Stop and think about that. How many journalists do you know that could do the jump to PR, let alone a blogger?
  3. Jonestown. Google is another Jonestown, but the people will not die, just go down in flames. When a company consistently pushes against hiring an IR firm or a PR firm, they'll most likely drown on their own Kool Aid. Unless there is a voice of reason within the company - something that I doubt - Google is going to believe it's own press. Actually, that's too late, because it already does.
  4. The Google internal PR team mishandles issues, or has relatively arbitrary reasons on how they handle issues. Two more prominent examples include the Jew / Google incident and Mailer-esque about this (overblowing issues, as my old boss said I liked to do at times).

However, I do think that the hype that is being built up over this IPO will hurt technology PR for the long-term. As I noted above, our industry is just overcoming the damage it did to itself during the dot-com era; blame should be passed all around - VCs, dot-com PR boutiques, dot-com journalists - but PR took the brunt of the downfall.

If, as an industry, we don't try to bring some balance to hyped stories, we are as responsible for the downfall of our industry as anyone else.

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