Sunday, February 12, 2006

Ethics and PR Blogging

A two-part post: first, thanking everyone that voted for me (self promotion) for the AdLand Battle of the Ad Blogs, and, second, well, the perception that PR isn't ethical.

Yes, I won in the PR category, and for everyone that voted for me thank you very much. I am pretty sure that includes my kids at Auburn, and big thanks to Scott Baradell and Mike Drierhost for their endorsements.

The contest was close, all the PR blogs are great ... but an interesting comment came out during the tallying of the votes by Dabitch.
PR people are pretty honest folk too. Who would have thunk it? ;) (I'm kidding amigos!)

Aptly named POP! PR wins the popular vote, with BL Ochman Whats Next not too far behind. Applause!
Now, I didn't blog about the contest, just added the graphic and then added a line in my signature. I asked some people, did a few emails - never went on the attack against others, because in the end I was doing it for the T-shirt ... and some glory. But, all in all it was pretty ethical, despite people's perceptions of PR ... and not just Dabitch.

Why? PR isn't like it's Guerilla marketing, and in my career I have always tried to be above the board. I am honest with reporters and if I don't know the answer, I say so and try to get the answer.

It's the same approach I take to blogging: I don't think every company in the world needs a blog, and I believe that those counseling such are doing a disservice to companies, to themselves, and to PR. Heck, it might even be unethical because it comes down to firms trying to cash in and not thinking the counsel through. I believe that there are better things that can be done for companies, and sometimes it is better to bypass online blogs and do traditional PR, depending on the company and the product. There is no shame in mainstream media, as, well, it tends to hit the mainstream audiences.

Tom Biro brings up a similar thread in his blog (yes, I'm in the post). Where is PR going with blogs, and are firms just going to goose-step

Now, while I am not sure Biro is supposed to be pissing in the IPG pool, let's forgive him for that one, as he is just pointing to a few good examples that his sister company has the misfortune of being. Which, well, really comes down to "where is the training, where is the supervision?!?" Heck, where is the oversight?

This is an issue across all of PR, and the question of ethics has to be brought up - are we being ethical in letting things go willy-nilly out there? Doesn't all of PR have an obligation - from the smallest of firms to the largest of multinational conglomerates - to give the best counsel, support and PR for its clients? If a PR firm does not get blogs, but is pitching them without even a cursory look, what good is that for the client? It's about transparency, in a way - we need to be honest in capabilities, and teach the staff how to work in such areas like blogs, or even media, especially since media is changing more rapidly than ever before (yes, trite/cliche). This all has to be done top-down, though, from the highest levels to the lowest peons. Only then will firms change.

But, hey, I just wanted to thank you all. :)

Friday, February 10, 2006

Tag ... Four Things

Parmet is now on my "revenge" list.

Four Jobs I’ve Had
* Camp dishwasher
* Bookkeeper's assistant / Secretarial assistant
* Campus Columnist
* Florist gopher

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over
* Meatballs
* Dr. Strangelove
* Dazed & Confused
* Chasing Amy

Four TV Shows I Love to Watch
* Arrested Development
* Simpsons
* NewsRadio
* Ultraman

Four Places I’ve Been on Vacation

* Charlevoix, MI
* Florence, Italy
* Israel
* London

Four Favorite Dishes
* In-N-Out Burger ... well, any great hamburger
* Homemade Macaroni & Cheese
* My Bubbi's Challah French Toast
* Truly Mediterranean's Shawerma

Four Websites I Visit Daily
* Gmail
* TechCrunch
* GigaOm
* BlogDigger

Four Places I’d Rather Be
* In Bed Sleeping
* With Certain Lost Loves / New Loves
* A Good Hockey Game
* Playing with Perry / Spending time with Spencer

Four Bloggers I am Tagging
* Erin
* Robert
* Ricci
* Scott

Sunday, February 05, 2006

CoComment Gets Half the Job Down

Okay, I track blogs. I always have. It's not a big deal, it's part of PR and what I hope to convey to others in the industry and the agency life - that it's not just enough to be tracking the media, but you need to get your Pubsub / Technorati / Blogpulse on (yes, all three).

But, part of the big problem - especially for PR people - is that it is not possible to track the conversations. And, let's be honest - that is a big part of what blogging is really about: the comments and trackbacks that add to the conversation. The best way to do this so far - and what I have had to do with certain posts that I think can be detrimental to clients, or lead to something more - is to go back again and again.

From Robert Scoble comes news of coComment. After I read the post - damn, it only had 12 comments at the time - I signed up for the beta, and actually got one. It's pretty cool, and an interesting service. You download the bookmarklet and then add it to your Firefox toolbar, and prior to commenting, you click on coComment and ... voila, your comment becomes tracked, as does any other comments on that post, and you have one page to view your comments and other comments. It's an all-in-one stop to view comments and conversations on blogs, without the original post. Stowe Boyd has already taken the time to break down the system step-by-step.

Now, this is not the first service I have seen for tracking comments - actually, Blogger has a tool that plugs into Firefox. To quote: Blogger Web Comments for Firefox is an extension that makes it easy to see what bloggers are saying about a page you're viewing in Firefox and
even make your own blog post about it, all without leaving the page you're on.

I have that one also installed, and I ran into two problems: first, it was overwhelming and too much. Second, it's not centralized. While it was a great way to track comments to my blog and on other blogs - and posts on the same issue - it was too much a pain. I think coComment is a better application for PR people ... but you have to comment on the post to be able to start tracking. Often - well, almost always - there is no reason for me to be commenting on a post on a client, nor should a PR person entertaining such a thought (unless it's to correct erroneous information). In that instance, the Blogger Web Comments might be a better tool - but it's not centralized on one page, like coComment.

So, a mashup of the two might work best for PR folks, and help track the second part of the blogging conversation - the comments.

An interesting sidenote ... as most people know, I strongly dislike (read hate) moderated comments and only use them when I have no control/choice on the platform. Well, I posted a comment using coComment on another blog ... and while it does not show up on the blog, it does show up on coComment. Here's an interesting twist: a blogger can moderate all he/she wants, but on coComment it shows up immediately; it's going to start showing out some people quite quickly who try to control the conversation flow for their own purposes.

This, in itself, is going to be dangerous and become ugly for PR: the outing of comment moderators, which includes clients' blog. If clients have a blog and do not let through comments ... well, that is now a wasted effort and perhaps more detrimental than letting through a comment and answering it. Likely, most corporations are going to opt to just turn off all comments, thinking that is the best way to control and not track elsewhere.