Monday, January 30, 2006

Going for that 25 Percent

There's been a lot of talk about the 25 percent. It's supposed to be this great answer to all that ails PR and ways to fix it. It's great that there's all this talk about the 25 percent ... what about the 75 percent that is still screwed up?

What do I mean? Well, let's take a look back at recent events: Tello versus Arrington; Alaska Airlines versus Jeremy Hermanns; Six Apart versus anyone that dares criticize them; Everyone versus Kryptonite. There are tons of examples, but these popped into my head.

Well, what's so important about these? Well, it shows that blogging is not that elusive 25 percent, but that we need to worry about the other 75 percent, such as "who is an official spokesperson" for a company. I like Six Apart, for the most part. They seem like a nice company, blah blah. But, after Anil came to my blog, I called them up for a simple question ... is he an official spokesperson? After a lot of avoiding the question - Apple PR people rock - and talking about what the future might hold for me and for PR and for blogging, I finally got an answer. No, not an official spokesperson.

And, that's the issue - the old 75 percent of PR is where we craft messages, and in a crisis everyone sticks to that message. Is that such a bad thing? No, because PR can be transparent and honest about a crisis, and that's what you are looking for. What is a PR person if they don't have the balls to cut off a reporter, and their OWN spokesperson? Useless - and in this new era of PR, do we need those types of PR people?

That leads me to ask - well, what is PR to do with that 75 percent that we are used to working on, if we have problems with people commenting for the company. That's where PR comes in (to help craft messages), and where a blogging policy comes in. Were those comments from Alaska Airlines? Were those comments from Tello employees or its PR firm? I don't know - but the IP addresses (while they can be spoofed) usually don't lie. And, well, it's not just blogs we need to worry about - it's message boards, where I am working on a fire for a client because, well, engineers like to talk.

The Schedule - Originally uploaded by philgomes.

But, there is that whole issue with the 25 percent. Do you remember that Gawker story on that poor PR person?

What happened there? By no fault of his own, Brandon became the story. He stupidly - yes, stupidly - pitched Gawker on a story for KFC. First, Gawker always seemed more ghetto than KFC to me. It's more a Popeye's type publication (best biscuits, btw and I am ghetto fab). And, second, read the freakin' blog. Gawker is like Page Six without the Murdoch cash. Would you pitch KFC to Page Six? Not unless there was a good tie-in to Lindsay Lohan.

That's why my personal hero right now is Phil Gomes. While others are talking about the 25 percent for personal gratification and to pretend to be leaders - notice the Wiki has died already - Phil is out on tour for Edelman speaking about the 25 percent. Kudos to Gomes, because he gets it (as his tour pic shows).

And, that's why this news is news - I know that I am not going to affect change sitting in Phoenix, but need to be in the trenches and the foxholes in San Francisco at a large firm. I hope to help them not make such mistakes, be their Phil Gomes. And, btw, this is the only time you'll see me blog about them.

But, the story isn't about me, and shouldn't be about me. It's about the most important PR lesson, that seems to be forgotten in the era of PR bloggers ... the story is about the client, not the PR person. Some of us are forgetting that, hoping to keep our A-list (no, not me, because I just don't care) and looking for free invites to conferences and pimping for speaking opportunities. It's not about us - the best PR people I have ever worked with knew that. They were never the story, even when they were the spokesperson. It's about the client.

That's a lesson we should all remember.
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