Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Om and the Return of Hype 3.0

Last night, Om Balik posted a few links, and one was titled Return of Hype 3.0. I like Om's blog, and it's one of the tech blogs that is in my "Favorites" channel in FeedDemon.

I posted a comment to his blog already.

re: Return of Hype 3.0 / PR firms are hiring like crazy (nice double title, though).

The dot-com hype cannot be blamed fully on the public relations industry. It took two to tango, and journalists need to take some of the blame for not vetting stories. If some background research had been done, most likely half the stories would have been spiked.

But there is really a lot more to say on the subject than really fit on his blog. Journalism and public relations is like a dance. A dance where both parties know the rules.

To blame the dot-com hype and boom on PR is to ignore the greater story. How hard is it for journalists to dig a little? Maybe I'm a different type of PR person - I don't drink the Kool Aid, and I try to have POP! PR follow the same route - but the dot-bomb magazines seemed to be serving it in barrels.

It seems to me - and has been confirmed by reporter friends - that technology reporters do not care about the business story but about the technology only. Here's a perfect example of that: I was at a meeting at Wired Magazine, and I was up-front with the reporter, whom I respected tons and worked with a lot before. I thanked him for taking the meeting, but let him know that the product was currently vapor. He said "that's okay - we don't care if the product works or ever comes to market, as long as it's cool."

One of the worst dot-bomb perps was The Industry Standard. Staffed by what seemed to be a bunch of first-year journalists, the magazine bought everything lock, stock and barrel, and then perpetrated the dot-scam image with it's monthly roof parties. After one meeting with a reporter at the magazine - whom was the most unprofessional woman I ever dealt with - I realized that I did not need to pitch them anymore, it just didn't matter if a company was in the Standard. People might have subscribed to them, but did they actually read the magazine? I know that when they folded, I was one of many PR people that was not surprised (and somewhat glad), and thought that they embodied a lot of what was bad in dot-com journalism. Okay, fine, I cheered when I heard the news that they shut down.

You think, though, that since so many reporters got burnt during the dot-scam age, that reporters and editors would research more, do a little digging. Well, I guess not.

This month's Fortune has a huge VoIP article, and Vonage is the company in the first few grafs. How hard would it have been to Google "Jeffrey Citron," the company's CEO, and then found out that he has one of the largest SEC fines ever levied against an individual? That plays an important part, to me, in a business story. Here he has struck gold with Vonage, but there are skeletons in the closet that would lead you to wonder if Vonage is a good, long-term option for my VoIP services...

So, don't lay all the blame on the dot-com hype at the feet of PR. Journalists should take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask themselves if they should have been more cynical and drank less of the Kool Aid themselves.


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