Monday, January 31, 2005

Thanks Bob

I guess Bob Parsons of Go Daddy doesn't read my blog, as I had recently written him an open letter, asking What About Phoenix in reference to his blog post on his Super Bowl ad, and how he did not go with an Arizona agency. Damn you Blogger for not having trackbacks!

Well, reading today's O'Dwyer PR Website, I guess that Arizona PR firms are also beneath Bob. According to the article (sub req),

Go Daddy, the Internet domain registry generating press with its upcoming Super Bowl ad, has hired Ruder Finn as its first agency of record.

Nima Kelly, the Arizona-based company's VP of PR who recently joined from sister company Wild West, told O'Dwyer's GoDaddy considered two or three other firms for the account after a review.

Going to go out on a limb on this one, and guess that none of the three or four firms were Arizona-based.

As for the Super Bowl ad, come on. So, great, now you have two ads, one in the last 2 minutes, but a re-run of the first one. Reading about the ad in the NY Post and the NY Times - and seeing the photo - I am going to make a prediction: Go Daddy's ads will be on the bottom half of USA Today's Super Bowl Ad Meter.

Making fun of last year's wardrobe malfunction? Please, that was an idea everyone had, and should have thrown out. Creativity and a fresh approach are normally what you want from an ad like that. It sounds, to me, like a bunch of other ads that were proposed (and later discarded) for the Super Bowl. The one thing I don't get, though, is what does this have to do with Web hosting and registering? And, having watched the "rejected" ad for the Super Bowl, um, still don't get it.

Go Daddy has been good to the Phoenix area. It has two call centers, and donates a lot of money and time to philanthropic endeavors. But, apparently Arizona PR and advertising are beneath Go Daddy.

It makes me wonder if it's time for me - who registered and hosts through Go Daddy - to look for a new company. I chose them because they are a hometown company, but that doesn't seem to extend to them looking at local firms for marketing, PR and advertising.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

At the NewComm Forum

This has been an amazing event, and some of the large PR firms had people out here to learn, to observe, to help their clients.

Some of the agencies include: Ketchum, Fleishman Hillard, Bite Communications, Edelman (but, no Richard).

And, some pretty big companies had people out here as well - either thinking of setting up a blog for the corporation, or seeing the blogosphere as a group that needs to be tracked and, well, pitched to keep the dialogue open on new products.

It's been a great event, and I'll be posting what I spoke about, what others spoke about, a picture of Andy Lark - and what he said - and an overall overview of the conference.

If you're in public relations or corproate communications, this should have been an event you attended.

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Filipinos are coming, the Filipinos are coming!

Well, it looks like outsourcing has hit the public relations industry ... or it will if RPA & Communicate, a Philippines-based public relations firm, has anything to say about it.

In today's O'Dwyer's,

RPA & Communicate, which is based in Manila, has sent a letter to American PR heads offering outsourcing services.

Philip Abadicio, managing director, cited “increasing labor costs in the U.S.” in offering to write press/broadcast releases and reports, develop strategies and create PR plans.

Since “labor costs are much lower in the Philippines, you can dramatically decrease your overhead expenses and lessen your employees,” wrote Abadicio.

He noted that Filipinos are “well-versed in both speaking and writing in English because this is the primary medium of instruction in all school levels.” Abadicio believes the rise of the Internet makes it “much more practical for your firm to outsource.”

RPA will charge $300 for a press release up to three pages, and $2,000 for conducting a press conference, including press kit content.

U.S. firms also may go on a package plan for $4,000 a-month. That includes five press releases, media briefing, Q&A, radio/TV interview, PR plan and ideas.

Well, this really is not that surprising, and not to sound too cynical, but I expect some of the large conglomerates to take up RPA or other outsource nation-based PR firms on these types of offers.

Why? For one reason and one reason only - the conglomerates seem to care less and less about quality, but only about billable quantity.If they can cut costs and grow the profit margin, I expect them to take the bait. The fact is that you can get a college graduate in the Philippines for about $8K a year - that's just a smart money spend.

This will hurt the industry in the long-run, though. As I have heard from friends at larger agencies, the quality of persons out there is just okay. The writing skills are not there, and the ability to pitch beyond email is scarce (I love phone phobics). If we outsource the junior level work, how are we going to train junior people?

Talk to any recruiter right now, and they will tell you that there is a whole generation of PR people missing: AEs to SAEs. This level left the industry when the bubble burst, as they were the easiest level to let go. So, if we outsource that level, we will once again be in a crunch to find the higher level.

The worst case scenario is if the large conglomerates start buying agencies in India and the Philippines and start outsourcing the writing, then the pitching. All that would leave to differentiate US-based firms is strategy and tactics ... which does not seem to be happening as agencies more and more are used as glorified admins.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Final thoughts on Ketchum

Well, after Jay Rosen's post yesterday on PR Bloggers being MIA, the PR blogosphere went into overdrive mode ... pinning the blame on Ketchum, on the associations for not speaking up, on not being a PR blogger but a blogger that is in PR and writes on other issues ... well, everything but thinking, hey, you know what, we should take a stand.

Poytner also picked up the story - it was the top story for Romenesko - and that lead to more action. Plus, Lisa Stone aka Surfette (she sorta does look like Smurfette) wrote another piece on the subject for PressThink, aggregating the views of various PR bloggers.

Us nouveau PR professionals - the ones that have embraced the blogosphere, and see the importance of citizen journalists - have more of a responsibility to take a stance. Doesn't our embracing of the grass roots nature of the blogosphere mean we should use the grass roots nature for own our causes? Shouldn't we say, "hey, the buck stops here" (so, be unlike Ketchum and take responsibility), and not pass the buck to the organizations?

As already noted, PRSA put out a tepid response against Ketchum, the Council of PR firms defended Ketchum ... and IABC said nothing. These are the three biggest PR associations, but they are not doing it for PR.

Now, IABC is just surprising. The chairman of IABC, David Kistle, has a blog. The Ketchum story broke two weeks ago in USA Today, but Kistle's most recent blog post reads like a church newsletter. We have new accredited PR people! We're doing a webinar! Aren't we neat!

The chairman of IABC has a venue, a forum to speak out on industry issues. Why didn't he use that venue to speak out against the first big issue affecting public relations in 2005?

I once belonged to IABC Phoenix, but never rejoined. I joined because I thought IABC would be a rallying force to showcase Phoenix PR to the Arizona business community - there is no need to go out of state for top-notch PR. I was told that that's not what the local chapter is about; the organization had shown through its silence that it was not about communications.

If the national IABC organization cannot come out with a statement on the issues of today, what is the organization really about? Ketchum/Williams case is about business communications - and since Omnicom is international, it's an international issue - but IABC stayed silent.

IABC should be a voice for all chapters, and if some disagree with what is said, that's too bad. The chairman of IABC should be setting agendas, putting out position papers and statements on the Ketchum/Armstrong Williams incidence.

But, if they are not, then us PR bloggers - even those PR bloggers that don't blog on PR issues - should fight to keep PR alive, to keep it ethical. As bloggers, we have a venue to have our voices heard, and we have a venue to expose the improprieties in the industry.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Silence on Ketchum is Deafening

"I have raised points that I thought should be picked up by other PR bloggers, where we would all raise a red flag ... and silence."

That was my quote last June for PR Week's article on PR bloggers push forth the medium.

What happened? Nothing has really changed - I blog about issues that I see as wrong in public relations ... and it's not picked up anywhere.

Why don't PR bloggers raise the red flag on issues within PR? Why have we stayed silent on the Ketchum debacle, and not raised our voice. While this is a PR issue - and we are all about how blogs are the new communications tools, change the world, blah blah - Ketchum has barely been brought up in the PR blogosphere.

And, now, we get to bear the brunt of this. Jay Rosen notes that while PR bloggers are not necessarily blogging about PR - nor is it mandatory that we do - they have been unusually silent on the Ketchum issue. A little bit of a brag, but the blog he notes has blogged the most - a measly three times - is my little blog. The other blog to raise the red flag? Richard Edelman's Speak Up.

It's not just the bloggers that have failed public relations - it's PRSA and its attempt to pin the blame fully on Williams and letting Ketchum off pretty free. Or, the Council of PR Firms flat out defending Ketchum ... then losing members for that defense.

PR Week allowed Kotcher to post an op-ed on the Ketchum issue ... where he noted that the Williams issue is a "transformational event," but fails to take full responsibility for being the reason that PR is possibly going through a transformation. What happened to responsibility? Ketchum did not disclose that they had paid Williams because it would have ruined the campaign, and Williams did not disclose he was paid because he doesn't see himself as a journalist, but a businessman. It's quite possible that Williams does not grasp his position as a pundit, but he thinks it's great that this might change PR for the better.

I think PR Week realized it had made a mistake on providing Kotcher a soapbox - if he wanted to address the issue, Ketchum's homepage would have been a good place to start. Julia Hood addressed the issue quite well in her editorial, that Ketchum needed to take responsibility for its actions. Ketchum, for its part, most likely realized that the op-ed it posted only added fuel to the fire, and released a new statement ... two week's later.

After the Rosen piece appeared, a few PR bloggers have picked up the flag and wrote about it:
  • Steve Rubel notes that he was one of the PR bloggers called out, but that his blog is about the intersection of PR and blogs. I already commented on his blog, and will provide a synopsis here: no matter what, this affects all PR professionals, including those looking at the intersection of PR and blogs. If we can't fully disclose with old media, how can the public trust PR with new media? It can't, and it shouldn't.
  • Robert French sticks his neck out, and sets an example for his students to follow. You can tell a man's character by his actions and his words, even if it could land him in hot water. Robert showed that he believes he needs to lead by actions, not just words.
  • Ben Silverman lends his usual snarky voice to the mix, but Ben brings something different to the table - a pretty newbie PR person, former journalist, former rabble-rousing DotComScoop blogger. The man's seen it all, has a twisted sense of humor, but raises a good point that maybe PR bloggers are afraid of the permanency of the blogging word.
The problem is that this is just one embarrassing issue to be brought up in the past year. Let's not forget Karen Ryan, Fleishman Hillard and LADWP, Fleishman being investigated for its work with the Drug Control Office. The whole shebang is here.

PR is changing, and its changing quickly because of citizen journalists, blogging, the new paradigm (and, yes, I read Kuhn's Scientific Revolution, so I have a right to say paradigm) to online communications and one-on-one communications ... well, the list goes on and on. But, PR is also changing because of less than honest actions with video news releases, paid consultants, satellite media tours ... well, the list goes on and on as well.

If we don't use the power of blogging to change the industry, what good is it to blog? Or, are we just blogging for self-gratification?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Where's the condemnation of the bloggers?

The past couple of weeks have seen Ketchum and Armstrong Williams (well, mostly Armstrong Williams) being condemned for paying/taking money to promote the No Child Left Behind program.

I believe that this is a bad situation for public relations, I blogged about it once already ... and will blog about it again this week.

So, we have seen Williams thrown to the wolves, Ketchum has brought some level of ruin - yet to fully be determined - to the business of paid consultants by not ensuring that Williams gave full disclosure (but, then again, Ketchum could have ensured that the program was promoted and disclosed, but that might have been too much for them). Hey, it's just like what they did for VNRs!

But, what about bloggers that were paid by the Dean campaign as consultants? What's the difference here? This past weekend, the Wall Street Journal wrote about two prominent left bloggers who were paid consultants to the Dean campaign (subreq). Slate then wrote a good discourse on the situation.

Journalists - and, let's be honest, Williams is a pundit, not a journalist - are prepared for their profession. They have the training, the practices, the ethics that they are supposed to follow. Yes, there are aberrations - Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass are the most famous - but overall the system works.

What do bloggers have? An informal blogger ethics code, but nothing concrete.

The argument for the two bloggers are that they disclosed that they were consultants to the Dean campaign. I'm sorry, but that just doesn't wash it for me. Imagine a reporter that covered Kerry or Dean or Dubya being paid as a consultant ... and still covering the candidate. Would that journalist get a free ride? Of course not. So, why should a blogger?

Many bloggers view themselves as citizen journalists. This "paid consultancy" is the sort of behavior that is going to smear the blogosphere, and get people to question the blogosphere as a resource for individual content.

Blogs have changed public relations, and its cases like this that show that the line Armstrong Williams crossed is much less defined in the blogosphere.

As public relations professionals, we should draw the line in the sand and ensure that whatever we do, we hold ourselves to a higher level of ethics. We don't need to pay bloggers to blog - we pitch, but no paid "consultants." There's full disclosure on VNRs, and there is no need to have anyone "reporting."

The fact is that when things like this happen, it's public relations that takes the hit. We cannot afford that, nor should we need to put ourselves in such a position to have our actions questioned.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Snippets - More on Armstrong Williams, Hoffman & Small PR Agency Pros, NewComm Forum

  • PRSA and Council for PR Firms take no stance. With the opportunity to take a stand, and put out a strong statment on the Armstrong Williams issue, and PR's future, both PRSA and Council for PR Firms decided that all the blame lay at the feet of ... Armstrong Williams.

    From the NYT article:

    Judith T. Phair, the president and chief executive of the Public Relations Society of America for 2005, condemned the decision by Mr. Williams to, as she put it, promote the law "without revealing that his comments were paid for by a public relations agency under contract to the government."

    "Any paid endorsement that is not fully disclosed as such and is presented as objective news coverage," Ms. Phair said, is a violation of the group's code of ethics, "which requires that public relations professionals engage in open, honest communications and fully disclose sponsors or financial interests involved in any paid communications activities."


    The agencies' trade association, the Council of Public Relations Firms in New York, also has an ethics code, but Ketchum did not violate it, the council president, Kathy Cripps, said.

    "Public relations needs to express total accuracy and truthfulness," Ms. Cripps said. However, she added, referring to Mr. Williams, "it was the spokesperson's responsibility to disclose the affiliation" rather than Ketchum's.

    Neither said anything about Ketchum, but excused Ketchum. This isn't the type of stance either association should take, but rather forward looking viewpoints and solutions.

    I'm not excusing what Williams did - and we all know that he's paying the price, losing Tribune and possibly Sinclair - but there is enough blame to be spread around.

    My main thought, though, is are these associations afraid to come out with anything too strong which would offend the member base that is employed by Ketchum?
  • Greg Hoffman's Blog ... I added a new blog to my list, which is usually not Snippets material. But, I wanted to point out what else Greg Hoffman is involved with: Yahoo Group's Small PR Agency Pros.

    The Small PR Agency Pros list is a great message board for any individual practioner. It's a group of open dialogue, where members ask for brainstorming ideas and actually provide input and thought. If you are in PR or starting out in PR, it's a group that's worth joining because the members are proactive.

    Greg also has a cool security focused blog, which is something all PC users should be aware of at all times.
  • NewComm Forum is a comin' ... As I continue to prepare for the NewComm Forum, I have had a lot of great conversations with different companies, and learned what they are doing in regards to the blogosphere.

    Some of the stuff is very cool, and more attuned to the average PR person, our less tech-savvy peers.

    Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Bad Day in PA

Hot off the O'Dwyer presses (sub required), Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington just filed a FOIA request with 22 government agencies regarding their contracts with PR firms.

This is the fallout of the recent mini-scandals affecting DC public relations and public affairs. In the past few months, we've seen fallout from:
  1. Fleishman and the LA DWP
  2. Ketchum and the Karen Ryan VNR for DHHS
  3. Ketchum and the Armstrong Williams plugs for NCLB
  4. Fleishman and the Drug Control Office
  5. Qorvis and Saudi Outreach and radio ads
These are just the ones I could think of off the top of my head.

This cannot be good for the agencies that have public affair practices in DC. We have yet to hear of any backlash against the other large firms, but maybe they have kept their noses cleaner in DC, or have been lucky. Ketchum, for one, has just begun an internal review of its DC practices, and will begin an external review of all its government contracts. Might be too little, too late for Ketchum.

One thought: is this the result of blogging, with participatory journalism and the citizen journalist? With more and more amateur newshounds with blogs digging for information, is public relations going to be forced to abandon some of its tried and true tools, like VNRs or SMTs?

The fact is public relations is changing, and we, as an industry, need to find new ways to get the message out there.

Snippets - Vonage Sensitivity, PR Driving Sales

  • Bad Timing Quote Award: Vonage!

    "Rising tides lift all boats,'' said Brooke Schulz, vice president of communications for Vonage.

    I guess Vonage forgot about a little thing called the Southeast Asia Tsunami, and wasn't fast enough to come up with another metaphor.

    One thing to note: while most companies have dedicated some part of their home page to disaster relief, there's no button or link on the Vonage homepage, nor does it look like they have sent out a release on the company's philanthropic endeavors for the Tsunami victims.
  • Is PR's objective to drive sales or awareness? Via PR Opinions comes this press release from SHIFT Communications.

    While, from the press release, it appears that some of the information is expected - marketing believes that PR is to drive sales, sales through PR have more clout - it's probably a study that hasn't actually ever been compiled. It's one of those things that needs to be seen on paper.

    And, let's be realistic - every PR firm notes that increased press and exposure can lead to increased sales and, for publicly traded companies, possible stock buys. But, just like PR can't promise press, we cannot promise increased sales. We can hand off tools to the sales teams - case studies, articles, press releases - but it all depends on if the sales team are a group of closers. And, coffee's for closers, dammit.

    Mike Manuel
    also blogged on this, and had a more succinct summary than me.

    Monday, January 10, 2005

    What about Phoenix, Bob?

    Phoenix is an interesting market.

    Even after practicing PR here for a couple years, I cannot put my finger on why it's a different market. Many of the boutiques here tend to practice AZ/Phoenix-only publicity, and let the larger fish in this sea go to New York, Los Angeles or other parts.

    Now, we are a big city - but we are also 300 miles from other metropolitan areas (excluding Tucson). Maybe that affects us: small town mentality because we are so far away from everything else. We are also known as an Old West type city, with a few very powerful families. Now, every year I hear the same thing: as more people move in, the demographics will change. Well, I've lived here for 18 years ... and it's still an old boy's network at times.

    Cities of similar size and smaller are able to support large agencices, and have vibrant PR and advertising communities. The local paper does not have a marketing or advertising column, but in the past we had some big dogs in Phoenix. In the past, these firms had offices in the metro Phoenix area: Cunningham Communications (here's a story confirming it), Porter Novelli (handling HP digital cameras and printers), and Hill & Knowlton (noted to me by a Phoenix PR service). The only multinational with a Phoenix office is Brodeur, and I had a large firm tell me that they never look to Phoenix for anything beyond vacations and high-end shows.

    What brought this up? Well, GoDaddy has signed on to do a Super Bowl commercial. And, the agency they went with is NY-based The Ad Store.

    So, why don't local companies go with local firms? I went with GoDaddy for hosting just for that reason: they are local, and it was important to me to support a local business. But apparently they can't return the favor.

    Now, if I were in advertising somewhere other than N.Y. or Chicago, I'd be annoyed by the attitude that only the big cities can handle a Super Bowl ad. That's bullshit. Advertising is about creativity, not about where you are.

    Word is that GoDaddy is also looking to begin outsourcing some of its public relations - are they going to pass up the firms in Phoenix and pay the money to a firm in NY or SF? If so, that's a sad statement to their commitment to Phoenix businesses.

    There are many great ad agencies here. There are some great copywriters here that can compile great brochures. There are many great PR firms and PR consultants/freelancers here - and, yes, I mean besides POP! PR.

    Snippets - CES vaporware, Panda Express, Cingular's Tsunami Fund

    • Is CES becoming COMDEX? Mike Langberg - the CE reporter - writes up about convergence being the word at CES. But, that convergence is likely going to be a long way off, and that right now it's hard to see who is going to do what, and if any of it will be delivered or rest in history as vaporware.

      My thought is if the show becomes too vapor-heavy, it might be doomed to the same end as COMDEX.
    • Bad fortune cookie fortunes: You will order more Orange Flavored Chicken in the near future.

      I like Chinese food, and it's always a toss-up when I want fast Chinese food on how much I want to spend: Pei Wei versus Panda Express. Or, if I'm turning left or right out of the house.

      Part of the Chinese food experience is the fortune cookie. Yes, it's a cliche, but I look forward to what a cookie says is going to happen.

      But, after my fortune last night, I likely won't be heading back. So, guess they were wrong on that fortune.
    • Texting for a cause. Cingular comes up with a good idea and way for people to donate toward the Tsunami efforts.

      Via Anthurian, Cingular has set up an SMS to give people a way to donate either 99 cents or $1.99.

      Now, this is cool - it's not a big amount of money, but has the opportunity to raise $46M if every member of the network does donate.

      Plus, it's a smart way to show off SMS to all its customers.

    Sunday, January 09, 2005

    Getting caught in the crosshairs

    From the same firm that brought us the Karen Ryan VNR debacle, now comes the Armstrong Williams blow-up.

    Now, this cannot be much fun for Ketchum DC, but the fact of the matter is that the office somewhat brought it down upon themselves.

    First, this is the firm that hired Karen Ryan to do some work for the Department of Health & Human Services. She went out their on a video news release - something that everyone in PR does - but signed off as Karen Ryan Reporting. A group of words that will likely haunt Karen and Ketchum till the end of time ...

    Of course, the Ryan debacle would have likely fallen out of the public's mind if not for ... the Armstrong Williams debacle. Now, I would bet that the Associated Press would not have been so hot on the trail for a story on the push behind "No Child Left Behind" if Ketchum had not worked on both NCLB and DHHS ... see how Ketchum has gotten itself caught in the crosshairs? For his $240+K, Williams lost his Tribune syndication deal (and, well, the respect of a lot of people). That should hurt his pocket book more than taking the Ketchum cash would.

    Now, this type of "expert" hiring is nothing new in public relations, and likely happens a lot more in the world of DC public affairs. If you want to see the full extent, just go to O'Dwyer and search for Qorvis or read Disinfopedia and the firm's campaign with expert outreach for Saudi Arabia.

    Now, don't expect Ketchum to stop such campaigns. Estimates are that the DC office pulls in $15M - and that's not chump change. But, do expect reporters to be up in Ketchum's face all the time, searching for more of these connections through the wonderful freedom of information act.

    Thursday, January 06, 2005

    Lark Leaves Sun

    Just hot off the PRW presses, Andy Lark is leaving Sun.

    Besides Lark being the VP of global communications and marketing at Sun, he's also a blogger and he's a keynote speaker at the NewComm Forum.

    Lark notes that he's "not going to be taking time off to discover myself or spend more time with my dog" which I find sorta sad. His dog is pretty cute.

    I wonder what the next thing will be, and if he's going to expand his blogging knowledge into a new venture.

    Only time will see ... or maybe he'll give us some skinny at his keynote at the NewComm Forum.


    update: Lark now has a posting on his moving on from Sun.

    Tuesday, January 04, 2005

    PETA doesn't play Kosher

    PETA is an organization that has taken on the likes of McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken ... but now, it's taken on the Jews. Well, specifically, the laws of shechita and Agriprocessors. Agriprocessors is an Iowa slaughterhouse that is ordained as kosher; the laws of kashrut are not simple, but are quite complex.

    One of the main tenets is that the animal live a good life, and die a painfree death.

    Well, PETA decided to go guerilla to film how cows were being slaughtered at Agriprocessors, and then, using their usual grass roots efforts, to spread the word that Agriprocessors wasn't really kosher. The story had widespread interest, and was most recently covered by the LA Times.

    Now, how does a group of orthodox rabbis, the different groups that ordain food as Kosher, and, well, Agriprocessors take on an organization that is a well-oiled PR and grass roots machine? Well, the rabbis and the kashrut organizations hired Lubicom Marketing Consulting, a firm that has a long history of working with kosher companies and causes.

    I interviewed Menachem Lubinsky, the founder of Lubicom, to ask him a few questions: how do you take on PETA, and what is being done.

    Has Lubicom and/or Agriprocessors been in contact with other groups that have had to deal with PETA, to work on messaging?

    No, we believe that kosher slaughter is unique in that it is part of religious freedom and protected by our constitution and specific exemptions of humane slaughter laws. We are not like furs.

    Beyond the traditional media outreach, what are Lubicom and/or Agriprocessors doing to counter the bad press from PETA?

    • Telling the truth, such as releasing the statement of the 12 rabbis and kashrut organizations saying that the schechita in the video was kosher and that animals with their esophagus and throats cut don't bellow and after schechita movements are not signs of consciousness or pain;
    • Publicizing Rabbi Shar Yashuv Cohen's statement of how he was duped and misquoted;
    • Circulating the statements of the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture after her visit to the Agri plant of how impressed she was with the humaneness of the slaughter;
    • And, widely publicizing the statement by Rabbi Dr. I.M. Levinger, international Veterinary Surgeon and expert on kosher slaughter, about the humaneness of the schechita at Agri.

    PETA is notorious for grass roots and guerilla efforts. Is Lubicom responding in kind, with its own grass roots efforts?

    LUBICOM is merely a PR agency representing the interests of the rabbis and kashrut organizations. Major Orthodox Jewish organizations like the Orthodox Union, Agudath Israel of America and the National Council of Young Israel are doing their share to get the truth out to their grassroots.

    Have you been surprised that this story has had legs, with another article appearing in the LA Times?

    And why not? Pictures of alleged animal abuse, rabbis making statements, PETA - a good combination for sensational journalism.

    Has this caused a rift between Orthodox and Conservative groups and the laws of Kashrut?

    There never was a united policy on schechita standards, so a rift would not be a good term. Who is interested in glatt kosher standards and who is eating glatt kosher meat anyway?

    Has Lubicom and/or Agriprocessors been reaching out to Gentile groups that view Kosher as a higher quality meat?

    Hopefully, they realize who PETA is and have seen some of the stories with the truth.

    While others share the view that PETA is anti-Semitic, has that hurt the campaign for pushing out the message that Agriprocessors is Kosher? Could others see that as knee-jerk reaction to PETA?

    There was NEVER any question about the kashrut at Agri, as all of the rabbis have testified, or for that matter that procedures at the plant are humane as people like the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture have observed.

    As far as anti-Semitism is concerned, PETA is already on record on referring to animal slaughter as a Holocaust. How else can you describe people who are more concerned with the use of a donkey in a suicide bombing in Israel than the killing of Jews.

    Lastly, the venom they have spewed and the degree of how they continue to go after a major supplier of glatt kosher meat in this country can only be construed as anti-Semitism, especially when stunned animals and practices at non-kosher plants certainly are nowhere as humane as the practices at Agri.

    Now, full disclosure. My favorite place in the world is here. My minor was Judaic Studies, and I took 7 years of Hebrew. If needed, I could go vegan, but I would really have to love that girl (thankfully, I love Middle Eastern and Greek food, so I'd be safe).

    This is a great case study, though. Have us Jews learned nothing from the grassroots campaign for The Passion of the Christ? The best way to combat a grass roots campaign is ... with a concentrated grass roots campaign.

    Lubicom is doing all the right things - the typical media campaign, getting out the message to
    the constituents, working with the press on messaging points. And, Lubicom has brought up issues that point to possible anti-Semitism in PETA: a group that complained to Yasser Arafat that a donkey died in a terrorist attack - hey, they're just Jews, they're less than animals is nice WWII propaganda - and used WWII again to denigrate the Holocaust in comparison to dinner.

    Here's what would have been a good grass roots campaign for Agriprocessors and the kashrut organizations:
    1. A push to churches portraying this as a cause for religious freedom
    2. A push to churches on the humane nature of kosher meat
    3. A push to orthodox, conservative, reform and humanistic synagogues, informing them that Agriprocessors is certified kosher
    4. A Website, promoting Agriprocessors in a child-friendly way
    5. A Website, promoting shechita and the underlying principals, including the respect for animals
    6. Stickers, because everyone loves stickers
    These are just thoughts off the top of my head, but when confronted with grass roots and guerilla marketing - especially with a group like PETA - it's best to fight fire with fire.

    And, it's a good PR lesson for any crisis. There's always a way to use the core community to support your cause.

    Snippets - MWW snort, Dunkin Donuts giggle, and HP wonderment

    • MWW starts blogging service. HA!: Well, actually, this is not a surprise to me that MWW has started a service to help its clients with the blogosphere. A lot of PR firms are going to get into this. But, as the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding on whether MWW can deliver what it is promising the clients. If this screws up royally, companies will sour on outsourcing blogs or hiring PR to promote them.

      Do the MWW people understand the blogosphere enough to correctly pitch blogs? As we have seen in the past, covert blogs don't work and people eat alive blogs that are overtly marketing tools.

      How is MWW going to carry this off? The company itself - admittedly - does not have a blog, and could not name any employees that blog. Plus, the two blogs mentioned for Nikon are the no-brainers - let's name some blogs that might not be mainstream, but are still influencers. Or, do they not know those blogs?

      Shel Holtz has a great analysis of the situation. My take? Leave the blogosphere to the hipper, younger, more nimble boutiques, as we are less apt to screw it up.
    • If HP blows it in the blogosphere, does anyone hear it? Andy Abramson usually blogs about VoIP and Internet Telephony.

      The other day, he goes off on HP and its lack of customer service, inability to build a good machine, and then having junior PR people get back in touch with him ... with no real help. Actually, no help at all.

      I wonder if HP has read this, or even aware of the power of the blogosphere. Granted, this isn't their core audience, but it's a highly read blog.

    Monday, January 03, 2005

    Snippets - Lack of Ad Creativity, Battelle on Online Ads, NYT on Dotcoms

    • How uncreative is advertising? While watching cable this weekend, I caught the new TV commercials for Vonage ... which use the same exact song as the new Chevrolet Cobalt ... which also has the same music at Hotwire. But, Vonage's ad agency must have taken an extra stupid pill. Not only is it the same music as the Hotwire commercial, but the same mono-tone announcer.

      Kudos for the inability to create distinctive advertising. It's really too sad, because Vonage had an opportunity to present itself in a good light, but now, I hear the commercial and think Hotwire first, then the Cobalt ... and Vonage third.

      Plus, small problem: mainstream consumers have no idea what VoIP is, and the ad campaign should have been both educational and branding. Ofoto had the same issues when they launched their first ad campaign - they decided they didn't need to go with educational. Um, wrong.
    • Battelle on publishing and advertising. I read this article from the Technology Review on Friday, and knew that there was something in there that was important.

      It just took me the weekend to figure out what it was.

      Advertising is cyclical. It's the one thing that amazes me about the rebirth of online advertising. It's hot again because companies have put the money back into the budget because the economy is chugging along. But, as soon as the economy goes South, online ad budgets will be the first to get hit (like PR).

      But, Battelle has a good point ... online advertising needs to change from a per-click model to publishers driving advertising, finding the best advertising for the content. It's an ingenious idea, that should be investigated more.
    • Fool me twice ... . A pull quote from Gretchen Morgenstern's column on Sunday, that needs to be read by every person that might get caught up in the next round of the dot-com.

      THE FOOL ME TWICE AWARD To investors who chased momentum stocks into the heavens last year as if they'd never heard of the crash of 2000. Adding to the 1999 feel of things, penny stocks soared, funky pro forma figures resurfaced and formerly disgraced Internet analysts dusted off their pompoms. All we need now is for a Wall Street strategist to say, "It's different this time."