Friday, December 31, 2004

Snippets - Part II of RLM, Copyright issues with Blogs, HNY

  • Richard Laermer talks about blogs. In the second part of Kevin Dugan's interview with Richard Laermer, RLM brings up a point that is sadly being forgotten in the corporate blogosphere: not everyone needs to blog.

    Now, as for his desire to replace PR textbooks with his own book ... well, unless he's looking to become a professor, that might be a wee bit hard.
  • The risks with blogging. The blogosphere is like the Old West. It's lawless, it's loose with morals and codes, it's crazy at times. And, part of what's been lost in this lawless part of the 'Net is the ideas of ... a copyright.

    When I first got into the Internet, the Webmaster in college said - when I was learning HTML - that I should just steal designs from other sites, because that's how the Web is built.

    Well, that's how the blogosphere works also. I do cut-and-paste full stories from O'Dwyers because they are behind a subscription firewall. Do I think I am going to get a cease-and-desist letter from them one day? Well, no.

    But, it is confusing - am I able to quote from their articles? Would that fall into the white zone?

    Or, look at Drudge. Does he pay for any of the photos on his Website, and if not, how come AP or Reuters or Getty hasn't gone after him and sued?

    Shel Holtz has a great synopsis of the issues, and probably would be able to answer my questions :-)
  • Happy New Years! Be safe, have fun and see you on Monday....

Thursday, December 30, 2004

PR and Disaster Relief

Nothing brings out the press releases like a natural disaster. Every company jumps in, and touts their charitable work and how much they are doing for the victims.

But, I have always been of the opinion that charity is supposed to be anonymous, to not benefit from the misfortunes of others. It's the philosopher in me.

PrimeZone is offering free wire distribution for companies assisting in the aid efforts. And, here's the list of all the companies that have put out press releases on Business Wire and PRNewswire. Heck, even Linkin Park got into the act.

Don't get me wrong - this is wonderful that the corporate world is going out there to raise much needed money. But, I feel dirty reading about all of this - as if there's an ulterior motive. When I worked in LA, a client's founder did a lot of great charitable work in the city, and for Holocaust victims ... he refused to ever use his charitable work to publicize his company. I agreed with him, but others in the office viewed him as a fool.

In my own way to help the Tsunami victims, I have added a button that links to Doctors Without Borders.

No, I am not going to send out a press release about this.

Snippets - Fortune on Blogs, USAT on CEgO, Epinions Irony

  • No escaping the blog ... . An interesting story from Fortune, and one that I'm mulling over right now as part of my session at the NewComm Forum.

    The article touches on the implications of blogs for PR, and then David Kirkpatrick delves into the issue deeper in his newsletter (with nice quotes by Richard Edelman and Tony Sapienza).

    Both the article and the newsletter have good points: PR needs to track what's being said on the blogosphere about their clients. But, how far do you go? I recently blogged about Bacon's new service, and Darren Barefoot posted his views on the Bacon's service.

    I noted in a comment that I think that if you concentrate too much on the blogosphere, you'll be buried in the minutiae. How many blogs do you need to track to get an accurate feel of what's being said about your client/company in the blogosphere? Who do you have to take seriously, who can you slough off as just babbling?

    These are the points that PR are going to have to address in the coming year, as the blogosphere continues to grow and get, well, monstrous.
  • CEgO and Blego. Mike Manuel has a great post on the USA Today article on CEgO, which to me is just the flipside of Podboy's Blego.

    You have to worry about a CEO that is spending too much time Googling his own name, or setting up Google alerts for his name. It's one thing to be scanning for comments on your company, but if it's just feeding the Ego, it's time to dump that stock.
  • Retired Websites. I'm not sure if Epinions meant to be ironic, but here's an interesting list of Websites that are no longer in existence (along with their companies), or are just no longer tracked by Epinions.

    Now, my question is why doesn't Epinions just pull those sites, instead of putting them into a dead letter file?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Blogging on the Tsunami

A lot of blogs out there are discussing the Tsunami that has reaked havoc - too many fanboy books as a kid - on Southeast Asia.

And, the PR blogosphere has gotten into the act as well. InfOpinions has two different posts about different PR people looking at the Tsunami from a crisis standpoint. O'Dwyers - okay, not a blog - has a story on Hill & Knowlton's Washington, D.C., office coordinating the PR for the Center for International Disaster Information.

On a more personal note, fellow Arizona-Global PR blog week participant-PR person-IABC member-blogger, Angelo Fernando, has turned his blog over to the Sri Lanka disaster relief effort.

Angelo is a native of Sri Lanka, and his parents and in-laws all live in Sri Lanka. Instead of blogging on the puff that usually is in the blogosphere, Angelo has turned his blog into a centerpiece on the happenings in Sri Lanka and how you can help. Check it out, and go help!!

The best thing to do is send money. Amazon has changed its homepage to showcase it's one-button donation to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief.


NewComm Forum and Blog Tracking

The New Communications Forum is coming up in January. Who should go to this? Anyone in PR, corporate communications or marketing communications that is looking at the blogosphere as a next step in their communications plans. This is the event that is a must-attend for communications professionals - the single practitioner, the in-house PR person, the large agency or boutique firms - everyone will find things that will make their communications me more amorphous.

And, no, I'm not just saying that because I am one of the people presenting at the forum. My session is on blog measurement, publicity and tracking, and I have begun gathering more structured information for the audience. The outline so far includes: PubSub, FeedDemon, Topix.net and other tools that I use to track the blogosphere.

How fortuitous of me that Bacon's just announced their blog tracking tool, which will be part of their MediaSource service. Beyond the press release, MediaPost's MediaDailyNews also covered the announcement.

I spoke to Ann Ertsas - the Marketing/PR Director at Bacon's - to get more information. We're all in PR, we know there's always more meat than the press release.

Not to give too much away - hey, I need you to come to my session and to the NewComm Forum! - but here's a recap of our conversation.

The value-add on blog searching really depends on what a company wants to do. If they want to track their own coverage in the blogosphere, or if they want to track for competitive analysis, competitive knowledge.

Bacon's believes in quality versus quantity for this product - we have research people that have identified good, respectable blogs written by journalists or pundits. It's a whole big world out there, and Bacons took the time to identity which blogs to track. Right now, it's 250 blogs of quality, where we would rather monitor less blogs, but those that are reputable and are news related.

There will be more about Bacon's during my presentation - with screenshots!! And some of the blog names!! - but right now I'm just trying to find out what Lexis/Nexis and Factiva are doing in blog tracking ... if I could only get calls back.

On a sidenote, kudos to Ann at Bacon's. Even though Musings from POP! is just a blog, she realized that there is value in reaching out to blogs, and taking the phone call and working with me on this presentation. Thanks!


Friday, December 24, 2004

Happy Holidays!


A very Happy Holidays from POP! Public Relations Posted by Hello


The POP! PR blog will be taking a small break for the holidays, most likely back on Monday with something interesting or fun ... at least hopefully!

I hope you have a very great Holiday, stay safe, and see you in 2005.

Hugs to all,
Jeremy


Thursday, December 23, 2004

Snippets - Old Navy Blonde, Bowling for Yasser and Lists!!

  • From Adrants, the Old Navy's Blonde Blog! Someone out there has a thing for the blonde in the Holiday commercials for Old Navy, and has even set-up a blog about his obsession.

    Okay, I think she's cute also. But, I also look at those commercials and wonder if I shop at Old Navy, am I supposed to become taller and a little Stepford looking?

    Some nice publicity for the campaign, albeit a little creepy since he's trying to find out her name. Personally, I'm still waiting for the obsessive blog about the Dell Dellf.
  • Bowlmor is owned by Yasser!! Well, not exactly, but it turns out that the former terrorist/president Yasser Arafat sank about $1.3 million of Palestinian Authority funds into the hipster hangout in 2002.

    Now, I've bowled at Bowlmor, and it's cool. It's fun. And, it has great AC in the summer.

    I will give the company credit: it did not know about the investment, it is in the process of returning the money, and is stressing its Kosher kitchen and its ties to the Jewish community.

    Good example of crisis communications done well: find issue, address issue, make amends, if necessary.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

PR and Detoxing

I always joke that I have a canned speach on public relations for students. It's interactive - and, come on, who doesn't like interactive speeches?!! - but it rings true.

So, here's the outline of the somewhat tongue-in-cheek speech.
  1. Who here is a people person? For those that raised your hand, the door is to my left. While you might think that being a people person is a good thing for PR, it's more important to be good with people. People persons want to be liked - that's not a luxury we have in PR. You're going to be yelled at by reporters, clients, coworkers. It happens. But, if you are good with people, you'll be able to smooth these rough patches without taking it personally.
  2. Who here thinks that PR is like Sex and the City? The door is to the left. It's not like Sex and the City, it's not glamorous, and most of the time your client is not going to recognize the hard work put into the campaign, or the credit isn't going to flow down.
  3. Who here thinks that PR is a 9 to 5 job? The door is to the left. PR is more like an 8 to 7 job, or doing whatever needs to be done to get the job done, and do it right. If you're on the West Coast, you get in early to hit the East Coast press - it's already 10.00 in the morning if you get in by 7.00 - and you need to be billable?
  4. Who here thinks that PR is a party, that it's all cocktail hours and shmoozing? Again, there is the door. Those parties and cocktail hours take planning, and the planning comes down to the PR department. It's our job to be behind the scenes in tradeshow events, to make sure that everything runs seamlessly. We're like the mice in Cinderella - we make things run well.
  5. Who here is afraid of telephones, and doesn't like to talk on the phone? Get over the phobia. PR is still a telephone-based industry, despite email and RSS and blogs. It's still about building the relationship over the phone and in person.
  6. At the end of the day, though, PR is fun. It's stressful, it's exasperating at times, but you do good work, your boss and client knows it, and you go home happy - but exhausted - at the end of the day.
What brings this on today? Well, I read a story today on a Cleveland PR guru that disappeared. I think this might be more of a common occurence than addressed in public relations - if you are in PR for more than a few years, the stress begins to get to you. And, you need to learn how to relax.

My old job, the PR people used to joke that'd we would rest and slow down when we were dead. It was a joke, because the head of the account would make sure we did detox, and he would take us out for team celebrations (ask me about my Birkenstocks one day).

How do I detox? Well, on the weekends I do sometimes crash and get 10 hours of sleep. But, mostly, it was what a psychic (no harassment on this one) told me to do. I had met him, and he noted that I was a little ball of stress. He told me to take 15 minutes in the morning, and just try to wipe everything away in my mind, to start the day anew each day. So, that's what I try to do, and if that doesn't work, there's always time to play with the puppy.

In the end, though, I love public relations. I love the stress, I live off the chaos, I love the thrill of the chase, the calls and the pitching and the writing. And, I make sure to detox and not overly stress.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Snippets - SV Biz Ink, WaPo and Slate, Examiners all around, PRW and PAO's

  • PR Week talks to the Public Affairs Officers. PR Week has a nice compendium of interviews with PAOs in war zones, on what they are doing during this holiday season and how they are making a difference. It's a nice, uplifting piece.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Congrats to Touby

Laurel Touby, the mistress of all that is Mediabistro, got married this weekend. Or recently.

Either way, the NYT wrote about it, and she still has items left on her gift registry.

Congratulations Laurel! And, if you are still looking for a PR blogger to buy, give me a ring ;) .


Sunday, December 19, 2004

30-Second Bunny Holiday


From the 30-Second Bunnies, It's a Wonderful Life Posted by Hello

From the best work stress relief Website on the Web - AngryAlien - comes the wonderful 30-second bunny theatre.

Plus, It's a Wonderful Life is an all-time favorite: Rembember, no man is a failure who has friends. That, and A Christmas Story: You'll shoot your out eye, kid.

They also have some cute Bunny Holiday gear, so stock up for next year.


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Corporate Blogging and Honesty

Recently, I wrote about The NewsMarket's new blog, NewsBluntly, and Plesser and Associates involvment in the project. My post on the situation was that while it's inevitable that more and more public relations firms are going to become involved in corporate blogging, it might not be the best of things.

Steve Rubel of Micropersuasion also wrote about the debut of NewsBluntly, and then on the issues that handing off NewsBluntly to the PR firm could raise. Steve's post concurrently ran on Webpronews.

The next day ... it got fun. Nicole Erazo - the AE / manager from Plesser - had written in, and pointed out some misconceptions she believed I had, and thus begun a dialogue on her point-of-view versus my point-of-view. Well, actually it was worse than that - accusations of image manipulation, and the such - but the blogosphere can be a cold mistress to people first jumping into it.

Then Mediapost picked up the news, and represented the launch of NewsBluntly as indicative of how the "murky world of blog-related marketing got a bit murkier." The article was picked up by Rafat Ali's Paid Content, as well as profiled in SiliconValleyWatcher.

SVW took a bit of a harder
stance than Mediapost did, but both had this issue: that NewsBluntly is being published by The NewsMarket, and that while the blog notes it ... there seems to be too much of a commercial push-to-action with the blog. As you can see on NewsBluntly, the left-hand column is for news producers to download b-roll and video news releases (VNRs) from ... The NewsMarket.

Now, let's be honest. VNRs are nothing new. It's a mainstay in public relations, and I actually just pitched a VNR/SMT strategy for a potential client. And, most likely, I would use The NewsMarket to distribute.

As I had been planning a follow-up of my original post, I called up Plesser and spoke with Nicole, who forwarded me to Andy Plesser. Nice guy, gave great background on Plesser and its past with newsletters.

Yep, in the past, Plesser has put together sponsored newsletters for clients. They published them, hiring beat or trade press reporters to pull together copy and content. It's a simple, yet genius, strategy: get news out to the client's customers and other industry influencers, in a timely and intereting newsletter that speaks of bigger industry issues. And, the client wins because they are the sponsor of the newsletter.

Plesser took that past experience, and brought it into the new medium of blogging. It's migrating the corporate newsletter and publishing - in this instance, creating and managing - to corporate-sponsored blogs.

Now, here's the irony: Plesser and The NewsMarket got burned for being honest.

Stop and think about that one - Plesser and The NewsMarket could have gone the guerilla route, never noting that the blog is published by Plesser for The NewsMarket. The NewsMarket started the blog for the same reason a lot of blogs are out there: name recognition. They provide information, the posts, as well as other content, the VNRs.

They took the high-road, and were pretty upfront about it, giving full disclosure. And, that was the wrong move, if we're reading the reactions.

Andy told me that the bloggers for NewsBluntly are news producers who took their psuedonyms from Broadcast News. It's two guys (?) presenting an insider's view of TV journalism, and are able to post on such topics.

Andy had some great points for one of my questions: Do you think that there needs to be more transparency between PR and blogs?
Blogging is controverial when there is a commerical element involved. NewsBluntly is a quality product which will prove its worth by being current, insightful and useful. While there is a fundamental controversy for blogs being used for commercial purposes, we are happy to address and debate the issues. The most important thing is to be transparent, and we have been with NewsBluntly.

It is the sneaky / guerilla marketing blogging that is going to be destructive and diminish the value of blogs. It's the same thing that happened to listservs. Accountability is important - not just in PR but in blogging - and if a company is going to be covert, it's a high-risk game for their brands and the whole blogosphere.

Being upfront and honest is the way to go.

I still feel that outsourcing a corporate blog somewhat defeats the purpose of a corporate blog, and stand by my original post. A corporate blog is supposed to reflect the internal personality of the corporation, to give outsiders a feel for the company. If it's a corporate blog outsourced, well, it becomes tainted.

But, NewsBluntly really isn't a corporate blog - it's a sponsored blog, and therein lies the twist.


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

PR vs Publicity and Bridge vs Barrier

There have always been discussions about the differences between public relations and publicists. Some people are in public relations, but call themselves publicists because they see that as more glamorous, while other PR professionals tend to wince when called publicists.

But, either way, both PR professionals and publicists are the face of PR/publicity, and it is how our industry is judged.

Recently, Liz Smith from Page Six had a screed against publicists, and Jack O'Dwyer, the industry stalwart, wrote a column on what she had to say.

The O'Dwyer article on Liz's story was:

SMITH RAPS PR "BLOCKERS"

Liz Smith, whose column is syndicated in 65 papers across the U.S., including the New York Post, used her entire Sunday, Nov. 28 column to attack PR people who she says are blocking access to their clients and employers.

The column not only rapped the big celebrity-handling PR firms like PMK, but PR pros working for "government and big business."

"Where the press once dominated publicists and treated them like slaves, the situation is reversed," she wrote.

PR people become "royalty" themselves when they represent a famous person and get in the position of being able to block access to that person, she said.

"The gates are locked against the press and much of the press, unable to do an end run, stands outside begging to be let in," she said.

PR's "iron control of the players themselves has created a vacuum where rumors, fancies and imagination run absolutely riot and the line between truth and fiction is utterly blurred," she continued.

She expressed sympathy for the "free-wheeling in-depth reporter out to get the truth (who) is stymied at every turn."

Dart Firing Cited

The starting point for the Smith column was the recent firing of Leslee Dart from PMK by Pat Kingsley.

Smith theorizes that the "powerful" Kingsley, after losing her No. 1 client, Tom Cruise, wanted to show that she was not "weakened in any way."

Another theory advanced by "Page Six" of the Post on Nov. 19 was that Simon Halls, a partner in the firm of Huvane Baum Halls, which was acquired by PMK, helped Kingsley to make the power play.

One possible reason thus far unmentioned by the newspapers is that parent Interpublic lost a record $587 million in the third quarter and that IPG may have sent word out to its many units to trim highly paid executives wherever possible.

Smith Likes 'Good Old Days'

Smith expressed her fondness for the "good-old/bad-old days" when publicists had to supply four newstips in order to place one favorable item about a client.

"There are no truly famous bylines anymore because PR types are more powerful than anybody writing or editing," she complained.

"Magazine editors and columnists alike go to the powerful PR companies and beg to be allowed to interview their clients, or even to get a simple question answered," she wrote.

The reversal of roles of PR and editors evens things up but the relationship is now "intensely adversarial," says the columnist.

She feels this "overt and sometimes hostile-guarded protection of stars and stories" is hurtful to the public.

"The reader of entertainment news is not made richer, nor is he much enlightened by so much control, spin and political correctness," she concluded, feeling "the three-headed dog of spin control (he can look many ways) is probably here to stay."

While Smith had some good points - points brought up by Jack O'Dwyer in the past - her main beef seemed to be that she misses the power that she had over publicists, making them bend to her will. You know, just like the good ol' days of the Sweet Smell of Success.

Jack had a good rebuttal of certain points, but had to agree on the barrier PR has become:

PR's DEFENSIVE RESPONSE

Liz Smith's venting about non-helpful PR people in big business as well as entertainment and government has a lot of truth in it.

The corporate pullback from actively building relationships with reporters started in the 1970s and was partly due to a wave of ethics that swept journalism in the wake of the Watergate scandal.

There was too much wining and dining of reporters in the '60s and '70s.

More to the point, it didn't have much effect on the media's coverage of the scandals of that day.

Companies figured, if it's not going to help us in time of need, why bother?

Our most frequent experience in calling a major company currently is that a PR aide will take the call and ask the reason for it.

Corporate PR pros almost never answer their own phones.

Whether they ever call back is a function of the status of the news medium you're calling from, the nature of the story, and the particular tack you're taking.

It's defensive. Large companies have major advertising and promotion campaigns under way and mostly don't need another mention in the press.

The marketing and legal depts. may have to be brought in on any dealings with the press, further complicating the situation.

Mid-Sized Firms Can Talk

However, mid-sized and smaller firms usually have no such worries.

Some have taken up the traditional PR burden, which is "educating" beat reporters and even roving reporters on how their particular company and industry operate.

There are plenty of companies like Omega Travel, the fifth biggest travel agency, that have a policy of spending time with reporters and helping them to get their stories straight.

"Reporters want to be educated and they're very grateful for it," says CEO Gloria Bohan.

This is where we see growth for PR in the future.

PR can get back to its roots if enough CEOs practice good press relations.

Traditional advertising has become too expensive for many mid-sized companies but an entire galaxy of communications techniques are now available, especially those that use the internet.

PR firms are moving into this area by positioning themselves as marketing communications firms.
Firms tell us they get much more attention and accounts when they bill themselves as marcom.

Short Definition of Marcom

What's marcom? The blunt definition is "pressless PR." Another definition is "everything but ads."

Clients don't have time these days to wait weeks or months while a newspaper, magazine or TV placement is set up. They need sales now.

Savvy "PR" firms are pitching "customer relationship management" to clients, stealing a page from the largest ad agency of all – Omnicom.

OMC says a third of its $10 billion business (actually $70B+ in value of ads placed, sales promotion, direct mail, etc.) is CRM.

The short definition of CRM is teach clients to improve communications with their biggest customers.

This is the quickest, easiest route to more sales and more profits. OMC practices this itself by concentrating on its 250 largest clients.

Activities include building websites for clients, creating direct mail pieces, staging special events, improving the graphics of clients, finding new markets, getting clients to participate in more trade shows, etc.

A major company told us that its biggest marketing goal at the moment is attracting prospects to its website. This involves having the proper "key" words that will multiply volume of visitors.

Don't Give Up On Press

There's no need to give up on the press. A company will get plenty of press if it makes its CEO and other executives available to reporters.

"Treat the press as you would a major customer," was advice given by West Coast PR and marketing guru Regis McKenna.

That advice is still worthwhile. Medium and smaller companies can build sales by considering themselves "educators" of reporters rather than adversaries and by using the host of communications techniques short of buying ad space that are now available.

The red carpet should be rolled out and a brass band should play when a reporter calls.

"Press calls have to be answered immediately," says Bohan, who has stacks of clips to prove the efficacy of this policy.

What companies don't need is a junior staffer blocking press access to their executives. Quite often executives have no idea of the number of press calls that come in.

A West Coast PR source told us the following story.

The CEO of a utility happened to be with a reporter from the Los Angeles Times and the utility's PR head.

The CEO complained to the reporter, "Why don't you ever write about us?" The reporter replied, "I call you all the time."

It turned out the PR head was pocketing such calls. The next day, the PR person lost his job.

Jack has previously noted that the job of PR is to be a bridge, not a barrier - including his interview with POP! PR and its blog.

Is this a situation that needs to be changed? Indubitably. Is the industry going to be able to change it, to work together as an industry for the common good? Doubtfully, and that's the sad truth.


Why the hating on Lizzie?

When I have written on Lizzie Grubman in the past, I always get a lot of interesting comments, some of them not too nice.

Some of the comments have to do with her wealthy father, buying her way into public relations. While others question her credentials, and her ability to do good work.

The fact is - from sources that I respect - Lizzie does a bang-up job for her clients.

What is the problem that people have? If there is such hatred about Lizzie over her family wealth, these people need help.

But, if there is such jealousy against Lizzie, those people must also hate and be jealous of a lot of things in the world.

They must hate the Edelman family for being involved in Edelman PR and the Zeno Group; ironically, Richard blogged about running a family business this week.

Or, they must hate the Pritzker family, for owning the Hyatt Hotels.

Or, they hate the firms of Ruder Finn and RF/Binder Partners, which are also family-run.

Or, they hate almost every owner of an NFL team.

Are we beginning to see the hypocrisy of hating Lizzie so much? So, she started Grubman PR with the help of her father. She's succeeded into building it into quite the publicity shop, getting press for her clients. We should all be so lucky to have supportive parents that could help us establish a new business.


New Comments Policy!! And new name!!

First, well, the birth was over a year ago, so I decided to change it the blog name to "Musings from POP! Public Relations." Not much of a change, but it works.

And, hey, look over to the side ... I have a new comment policy! This is in response to the past week...
This is not a public forum, this is My Blog.

This is very much my personal place. Please act as if you were a guest in my home, and I will treat as one.

Opposing views are welcomed.

I will, however, delete your comment if you descend into personal attacks, excessive profanity, mouth-foaming hatred, or other such immature behavior that I deem “unacceptable in my home.”

Please craft your contribution accordingly.
I want to thank Greg Brooks of Engage for forwarding me the comment policy from Photodude - which I used as a base for my policy - and I want to thank Ben Silverman of PR Fuel for his advice, and his response that "the people giving you shit are a bunch of clowns, tell them to go back to work, or the unemployment line."


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Snippets - Blogs and Libel, RLM interview and Backfence.com

  • RLM on Primetime! Kevin Dugan of the Strategic PR blog interviewed Richard Laermer of RLM PR.

    It's an interesting read. A few things popped out at me: if there's such little respect for Lizzie, why did Richard point out his show beat hers to air? Also, that the show sounds like a good representation of public relations, and that Laermer tries to show that PR isn't just media relations.

    Make sure you catch RLM's 6 lessons for PR practioners. He has some good points.

    Now, if he had only rethought the name of that book ... Full Frontal?! Geez!
  • Blogging to the local level. Backfence.com is trying to take journalism back to the local level.

    Launched by a former WaPo reporter, the open-source journalism is going to have the locals write stories on issues that are, well, issues to them.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Crisis Public Relations and the Art of Deflection

I like Karl Malone. He seems funny, he seems nice to the public ... and at times, he seems a little bit scary - come on, he hunts squirrels and he drives a big-rig. That combo is just a little frightening. Karl seems like the type of player you'd want to go hang out with, go on a hunting trip with - just a fun guy.

Oh, and he reminds me of Bill Laimbeer, who was just an all-around thuggish basketball player, but never slacked off while playing.

So, apparently there's this big to-do right now with Kobe Bryant and The Mailman. The Mailman supposedly hit on Kobe's wife.

Now, reading the article, I believe the situation is being blown out of proportion. But, not from hurt feelings, but purposely.

It's called the "big lie" tactic - I forget which book I read it in when I was younger, but the theory is that you tell small little truths, and then spring the big lie. It's a great diversionary tactic, and always seems to work.

How does this relate to Kobe and public relations? It's a simple art of deflection - bring up other issues, so people stop concentrating on a problem or crisis that you are having. It sometimes works, and other times backfires. It usually backfires when you are deflecting and taking no responsibility. In this case, Kobe is trying to get the attention off the many issues with the LA Lakers and himself, particularly the infidelity with said wife that's been harassed by Karl.

Nice try, Kobe, but no cigar.


Not everyone at Market Wire is reading my blog ...


Awwww, thanks! Posted by Hello

On a hectic day - the phone started ringing before I came into the office - I needed something to smile.

I guess Cindy over at Market Wire didn't read my blog posting on wire services or the SVP's response, but they do have a special going, so give them a call!

Hey, I give her credit - it's a good offer, and she sent it to me.


Friday, December 10, 2004

An Open Letter to Peter Shankman and his "Peeps"

Who would have thought that one post would have drawn such fire? After I pulled the post, I got other emails calling me a pansy and beating me up for pulling the piece.

I want to clarify about why I did a bit of self-censorship. I didn't pull it because of what I wrote - I stand behind what I wrote 1000 percent. I pulled it because the comments I was getting were unprofessional and ad hominem attacks. Certainly unbecoming of so-called PR professionals.

One of the letters I received asked if I would post it, and the writer has some good points. So, it's her title and her letter.

This time, though, I will delete unprofessional comments.
Peter,

It truly puzzles me why you would bother to take the time to forward to your friends, a blog post from a blog you refer to as being a "little blog." It's awesome your friends have come to your defense and have taken the time to read a post on a blog site that otherwise would not have ever been on their radar. After all, it's just a "little blog" since you should be focused on "continu[ing] to kick major ass ass on behalf of my clients."

You and your friends have missed the point completely. PR / publicity - whatever you want to call it, is riddled with problems. As a profession, there are some truly inept people out there providing bad counsel to clients, and there are some really incompetent people who made the jump in-house from the agency on an inflated title with an incomplete skill set. There are agencies who secure lots of clips for their clients, though the majority is unstrategic coverage.

As an "owner[s] of a mailing list comprised of over 2,000 PR professionals, the majority of whom look up to you for advice on how to get better in their chosen field of employment," I would hope you would raise the bar and set the standard by calling Jeremy directly to call him out on his post. If your client were mis-quoted, would you really just e-mail the reporter and get in some bellow the belt hits, or would you call that reporter and escalate up to rectify the issue?

I don't disagree with any of your comments or those of your friends, about Lizzie. At the end of the day, she delivers results and value for her clients, much in the way you do with your own self promotion and that of your agency.

Why am I bothering to write you an open letter? Like your friends have said of you, Jeremy is my friend, and while his comments may be not always be sunny, they make you stop and think. They get you worked up, they leave you wondering what his obsession with Lizzie is, they leave you feeling something.

It's petty and it's lame to get this worked up. Jeremy didn't set out to "go after you," as you and your peeps have suggested - you just happened to be in that NY Post article. Remember, his blog isn't a source of news, it's just a blog, a place where he can pen whatever's on his mind. So...everyone's up in arms over what again?

DW

Market Wire responds ...

In a post last week, I wrote about the business of the wire services, in particular Business Wire and Market Wire.

Yesterday, I received an email from Market Wire's SVP of Sales, Michael Shuler. Seems like a nice guy and I wanted to give him a fair shake, and pinged him to see if it'd be okay to post part of his response to my blog.
You should be aware that Market Wire is profitable and growing quite rapidly. The Company is currently expanding its sales and sales support teams and is well positioned to continue to take significant market share away from BW and PRN over the coming years. As a result, I expect you will see the wire service industry change dramatically, and you will see Market Wire profit from this change. BW's recent decision to drop their annual "membership" fee is just the start of this evolution.
I thought it'd be the decent thing to do. You're the reader, though, so you can make up your own mind on what is what in the wire industry right now...

Self Censorship - Don't Do It

Yesterday, I posted on PR, publicity, Lizzie Grubman and Peter Shankman.

Those of you that read my blog know that I have tried to make my blog into more than just about starting my agency, but about issues in PR that need to be raised, and trying to raise the bar. And, yes, sometimes rattling cages.

Apparently, I rattled the cage a little too hard and it offended some people.

Naturally, I saved the original post, and will likely repost portions of it. I had a great dialogue with Josh Hallett of Hyku on some points that I raised about the bridge / barrier issue, and he pointed to a similar post on BuzzMachine.

I have those emails, and with his okay, will repost them as well.

I blog to try to bring up issues in PR and the PR blogosphere. It's as pretty much cut and dry as that. I have had this discussion in the past with a few other PR bloggers, particularly Robert French at InfOpinions.

Why should we blog? Should we be trying to better the industry? With students - like the lovable Auburn bloggers - should we be mentors, helping them out and trying to get them to be better PR people? I know that I have helped out at least two PR students in the past month with interviews and jobs, as well as having volunteered to be a mentor for the University of Missouri PR Club, when asked by Heather Pugh of Buzz Magazine.

So, yes, I will continue to tear down what I see as bullshit in public relations. Potential clients may read my blog, and if they find offence with what I have written, it's pretty obvious that we might have not been a good fit to begin with. I didn't open POP! PR, though, to take everything and everyone that crossed my door but to work on things that interested me, and that I would find exciting, interesting, and, yes, fulfilling.

Keep an eye out, though, for the pulled post. It will reappear in some form soon enough.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

PR Grants for the NPOs

Got the pitch today from CyberAlert, and usually I either ignore the pitches, or somehow weave them into another blog post.

But, this is something different. This is for the kids. Well, it's for non-profit organizations.

According to the press release, CyberAlert is going to give out grants "ranging in value from $2,400 to $4,800 for each grant and consisting of one full year of free news monitoring / press clipping services.

So, if you work with a non-profit that needs a clipping service, this is the grant for you.


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Happy Hanukkah!


Posted by Hello

To all the Jewish readers of POP! PR's blog, have a fun and enjoyable Hanukkah starting tonight. And, don't do the latkes, but do the Israeli tradition of Jelly Donuts! Mmmmmm, jelly donuts.

Here's an amusing Hanukkah Jingle for you, to Outkast's Hey Ya!

Monday, December 06, 2004

Must Reads: John Paczkowski

Since 1996, the SJ Mercury News has been printing Good Morning Silicon Valley.

GMSV is an original blog - a newsletter that was a compendium of tech stories around the Web, that is emailed to its readers. It's a great, quick read and captures what's going on in the Valley in a fun, snarky way.

I've been subscribing to the SJ Mercury News' Good Morning Silicon Valley as long as I can remember. And, each newsletter - well, its a blog newsletter before blogs came around - ends with a technolust item from John.

Today he wants Shock Tanks. In the past, he's asked for special edition iPods, dogs and dog toys, plus some HUGE ticket items and just some regular PR schwag.

I wrote to him the other day - I always wondered if anyone sent him his requests. It seems like a pretty no-brainer PR move, that would at least generate goodwill and a laugh. From my email interview ....

You think someone actually offered to send me the custom A320 Airbus?

:)

I've gotten a few corporate t-shirts (in "trade" for SV shirts of course), but that's about it. Someone once claimed they sent me caffeinated soap, but sadly I never received it. I wish I had though, it would have come in handy - especially this week when I'm flying solo with twin 3-year olds.

It's worth noting though that occasionally when I ask for something particularly dear -- say the Treo 650 -- I get e-mails from people asking me to send them any extras I might receive. As if PalmOne would send me case of Treos...

Snippets - Jigsaw, Dart Group, Wired Magazine, Personality PR

  • What happened to Wired? For years, technology buffs (and, well, PR people) could look to Wired Magazine as a cutting-edge source of breaking tech news. I don't know if it was the acquisition by Conde Nast that took away their edge, or just the dot-com implosion, but now they seem to be 3 months behind.

    Case in point: Blogs may be a wealth hazard. A story on people who have lost their jobs because of their blogs, and the implications. Their analysis: get better employee blog guidelines, which may just be an extension of existing employee guidelines.

    My feeling - corporations are in their rights to fire bloggers for leaking sensitive information, and this will become a greater nightmare for companies.
  • Why it's never a good idea to personalize a corporation. As we are entering another dotcom era, it's important to look back at the last era and learn from PRs many, many mistakes.

    One such mistake was doing personality PR instead of product PR. Why do PR people play the personality PR game? Well, many CEOs and founders of companies like to see themselves in print - it's an ego thing. Plus, personality PR (if it's a dynamic personality) is easier to do than corporate PR.

    But, the problem is well highlighted by the former CEO and founder of Fresh Direct suing ... Fresh Direct.

    Here's a little lesson from dotcom history: it's never good to do personality PR in a start-up because those personalities tend to disappear. Then, you're left with a face for a company that is no longer there - and who could, potentially, start badmouthing the old company. It's harder to do product and corporate PR, but there's a much better ROI for it.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Censoring blogs while hyping blog technology?

Here's an oddity to mull during lunch.

I wrote about FH Out Front this week. I track my blog with Sitemeter, and for a few days, I was one of the top 5 results returned for both "FH Out Front" and Ben Finzel in Google.

Now, the POP! PR blog doesn't even show up in the results. Is Google censoring its results so I don't even show up anymore?

Weird. I think I hear the black helicopters coming ....

Who needs another wire service?

I recently got an email pitch to add a wire service to my sidebar of PR resources. I'm not going to, but I will mention the company's name here - 24-7 Press Release.

Does the world really need another wire distribution system? That brings it up to how many? We have Market Wire fka Internet Wire, PRWeb, PrimeZone, Business Wire (BW), PR Newswire (PRN) and others I am sure that are out there. To be brutally honest, PRN and BW are the two big dogs and its hard to catch up to them.

Recently reported in O'Dwyer's, BW is dropping its annual fee and will be like Market Wire, just charging for wire services. Of course, some wire prices are going up - ironically, those wire services that would most likely be used for smaller PR shops - so, in the end, the bottom line will stay the same for BW.

Is changing business models to be like Market Wire that smart a move? According to some whispers I have been hearing, the cofounder is about to leave, and the company is running out of money. So, in other words, buh-bye Market Wire.

Not exactly a company to emulate. Market Wire has had other problems in the past that have led me to avoid the wire service. One word: Emulex. It was part of the reason why Internet was dropped for Market...

BW has been around long enough - and is smart enough - not to fail where others have died, and like I already noted, they won't be losing money from dropping the annual fee.

Snippets - Alcoholism, Snocap, Google and PMK-HBH

  • Alcohol Brainstorm Sessions. Maloney & Fox likes to drink, and a lot. And, they like to encourage drinking during brainstorm sessions.

    I guess this takes PR to a new level of enabling? Hey, if you have a drinking problem, go work at M&F!

    Okay, I'm not a drinker, so this just seems odd to me that you would need to get people to imbibe to come up with good ideas during a brainstorming session. In a brainstorming session, every idea is a good idea, none are supposed to be shot down - so, people are able to say whatever they want. Or, that's how it's supposed to be.

    If you need alcohol to lose inhibitions, something's wrong at a higher level that people aren't comfortable there.
  • Napster goes Legit. And gets way too much press for the launch of Snocap and Shawn Fanning. Napster is dead - yes, even the new version - so can't we just move on from the story of a legit P2P network?

    But, this shows that the press is hungry for any story that has the stink of dot-com on it.
  • Speaking of the dot-com stench. Mike Manuel at Media Guerilla has a story about Google looking / not looking for an ad agency.

    I think Google is spinning, and it will be soon enough that they announce an IR firm, a PR firm and an ad agency for the whole company.

    The other day, I came across a very amatuerish banner ad for Google Desktop search on Drudge. The company needs REAL PR, IR and Advertising if it wants to stay the course. Right now, bloggers as PR people isn't going to cut it.

    UPDATE: As of 11.47 AM PST, O'Dwyer's is reporting that "Google has brought in Los Angeles-based CarryOn Comms to handle PR for the search giant's enterprise unit."
  • IPG's PMK in Crisis. Not surprising that after the firing of Leslee Dart that clients have been dropping like flies at PMK-HBH, but to have it broadcast in the NY Post Page Six - the bible for publicists - can't be a good thing.

    Oh, and IPG, Dart's been gone for about two weeks now - it's time to update the Website contact information.

Ketchum's a girl

Well, maybe to compete with FH Out There and niche markets, Ketchum has decided to launch Women 25to54.

I guess the mere fact that public relations is likely split 60/40 (with 60 being women, and this is a generous estimate for men), wouldn't it make more sense for Ketchum to launch "Men 25to54"?

Although that seems just as goofy.

Once again, it goes back to my last post - Fleishman Comes Out - that whatever happened to PR being all inclusive, instead of having to break down every ethnicity and group to generate more billings.

Oh, wait, maybe that's what this is about ... another way to squeeze more cash out of the clients.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Snippets - Blogs, MSN Space, XMas Gifts

  • "Blog" makes the dictionary. Millions of blogger heads swell up with self-importance, then explode, leaving the blogosphere empty.

    I continue to drink my 64 oz bottle of Odwalla OJ to fight a cold at home.
  • MSN Spaces Launches. And, the blogosphere goes nuts.

    I just launched my own MSN Spaces blog for POP! PR, just to test it out and play with it. I see that Robert Scoble, the MSFT evangelist, isn't going to switch over just yet. But, I think that's fine - from what I have been reading and playing with so far, MSN Spaces isn't for hardcore bloggers.

    To me, MSN Spaces is going after the My Space, Live Journal and, well, Blogger space - people that want to write about their lives (okay, 14 year old girls on some level), but quite easily through the integration with MSN Messenger.

    I give it a thumbs up - I think it'll give those services a run for their money and carve out a nice niche for itself. It seems pretty easy to use, it has some nice MSN IM integration, as well as mobile integration.

    I just don't expect to see tons of corporate blogs built on the platform.
  • How ethical is it to send XMas gifts to the media?

    Yesterday, on the leading morning news in Phoenix - Good Morning Arizona - Dan Davis commented that a local PR firm (okay, they are more like wannabe publicists) had sent everyone at the station a gift ... but him.

    Now, Dan's being doing TV here for 25 years. He's an Emmy winner, he's very personable and professional. I don't see him commenting on not getting a gift because he was upset that he didn't but more as a putdown of the firm and the ethics of giving gifts.

    How tacky, though, that they forgot him.

    So, readers ... what are your thoughts?

Snippets - O'Dwyers, Nazis, PsyOps and PR Ethics

  • The O'Dwyer Company gets ad pulled. To have your firm written up in the O'Dwyer newsletter and Website is a pretty big deal - they don't pull punches, it's read by higher-up executives, and they break a lot of stories.

    The company also influences corporate decisions, as noted in today's New York Times. Yesterday, on the O'Dwyer Web site was an article about the Simon Property Group using national landmarks for their ad campaign to get people to go shop at its malls. Today, the New York Times has the article on how Simon Malls has pulled its ad campaign, due to the article on Odwyerpr.com.

    Now, that's power.
  • Isn't PR Psy-Ops anyways? Love him or hate him, as PR professionals we have to admit that the current Bush administration is full of great spinmeisters. They make Teflon Ron and Bill Clinton look like amateurs some days.

    Today's LAT has the story on how the US Military has "duped" various news sources with false information, and is causing a rift within the Department of Defense's public affairs office - in time of war, is it the job of PR and PA to disseminate information, or to use propaganda and false information to give our guys the edge. It's a blurring of PR and Psy-Ops.

    Let's be realistic - if this were WWII, this would be a non-issue. The media landscape has changed where it's instantaneous information disbursal with the Internet and always-on cable news channels, but the old adage of loose lips sink ships still rings true.

    I'm on the fence on this one. Get back to me later, and I'll think it over more.
  • Edelman wins Birds Eye. Okay, I just wanted to write "Birds Eye" because it makes me laugh, but, hey congrats to Edelman.

    On the PR side of things, though, CEO Richard has an interesting take on PR and ethics on Speak Up.

    Now, why does it matter what one blogger says about PR and ethics? It's simple. Richard isn't a blogger; he runs the largest independent worldwide PR firm. His views and comments hold a little bit more weight than "oh, he's just another PR blogger."

    I can't do it justice in a snippet - so finish up here, and now go read it!