Friday, November 24, 2006

A Community of Poseurs

Web 2.0 loves to point out the community expertise that we all encompass (yes, the royal we), but when push comes to shove ... we are just poseurs. Well, not me, but a lot of the experts in the Bay Area.

Why? Well, the Laughing Squid party drove a point home - as I had noted to Jeremiah (and he blogged). Only the big squid himself, Scott Beale, could throw a party that crossed the Burning Man crowd with the Web 2.0 techie crowd along with other hipsters. Scott is one of the few people that can cross over so many communities - he's like that popular guy in high school that could cross the cliques and be friends with everyone. (And, yes, he really is that nice a guy.)

Sadly, though, not many people can cross over like Scott. The Web 2.0 marketers and PR people cannot move beyond Web 2.0 people, and that is a big problem. And that is why many web 2.0 companies are likely destined to fail: they cannot think beyond the Bay Area and Valley. It goes to my favorite mottos from the Web 1.0: Fuck the Bay, Fuck the 7x7, Fuck the Valley - mostly to remind myself that just because it plays in SF, does not mean the rest of the country would care. And, let's be honest, SF people are cheap and fickle.

Me, I can cross over also. I was off my game at Laughing Squid II but at least I talked to other people that I did not know. I talked college football. :) But, I was pissed because I have been off lately - preoccupied or feeling like something's missing - but that did not stop me from moving beyond the safe zone of Web 2.0 people to meet others, to talk to others.

But the sad statement of the event was that it is very very clear that we wear blinders, we are insular and we cannot think of the bigger community, and even worse (or sadder) we cannot work in the bigger community.

For all the PR 2.0 and marketing 2.0 people, all that really says is that they mean they can work in their little enclaves, but in the big bad world ... they are failures.

And, that's why I always tell people I'm a Detroiter (although I'm also from Phoenix, but it's the same thing): I think like a Midwesterner and try to think how and why a Midwesterner would like a product / Web site. When I was back in Michigan for my cousin's wedding, my Uncle and other cousin had an interesting take on YouTube and Google: Google did it for the tax write off. They don't use Flickr, they all use Ofoto (because they were supporting me while I was there). They don't know or care about Web 2.0 - they just want stuff that works online, and can get stuff done. Blogs, yes they read them (and mine), but podcasts and vidcasts are just not there for them right now.

And, this is the real world we need to think of - the flyover states that still control the nation (despite our disdain for them). If we cannot move into those communities - like most were unable to do at the Laughing Squid II party - then we are failing our clients and failing ourselves.

Photo of Scott Beale and Michigan autumn leaves by me.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Can Rubenstein save Kramer?

In Silicon Valley, there is one must read - it's TechMeme. Gabe Rivera has done a great job at getting the zeitgeist of the Web 2.0 and blogging leaders - and heck, I'm in there, so it's gotta be great.

He always laughs at me, though, because I tell him his more important property is WeSmirch - the gossip blog aggregator. And, let's be honest - in PR and publicity, gossip is what makes the world go round. Heck, the top blogs and TV shows are gossip-based (and I am not talking about the Technorati 100, but those blogs that are read by more people but are not thought of as blogs - like TMZ or Perez Hilton).

Hell, I knew I had made it as a blogger when I was on the same email as Perez, being pitched the Lucky cover with Alexis Bledel, and the chance for 60 entrants to win the DVD of Gilmore Girl's season six. Come on - how cool!

But, if you read WeSmirch, you know that Michael Richards went insane and off on a racial rant at a recent comedy club outing - here's the video from TMZ. He also did the apology - half-assed and odd to me - on David Letterman.

This morning - while unable to sleep - I was watching FOX News and saw ... that Richards has hired Howard Rubenstein. In PR, there are certain rules of engagement. And, one of them is if you are a celebrity, you go get Howard. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Rubenstein, partially because he was so nice when I interviewed him for this blog. He was interviewed early - before the blogging buzz got nuts - but he was gracious and nice.

But, can he save a man that has gone on two racial tirades - one against Blacks, one against Jews - and whose excuse for one is that he was angry, and the other is that he can't be anti-Semitic since he's Jewish (um, hello, ever hear of a self-hating Jew?). Rubenstein is a genius, and he is setting up Richards with meetings with some of the top community members of the African-American community ... but is that the right route? We have seen how Alan Nierob has handled the Mel incident - alcohol, bad rants, etc. But this is very different ... with the wonderful world of online video.

Is the usual dog and pony enough in a wired world? People have already passed judgement, the hecklers claim they are going to sue Michael Richards (but not sure for what), and it is just getting worse and worse with more claims of racism coming forward.

Others would say "launch a blog" and that would usually make me vomit. Everything does not need a blog, and in this situation, I think it would only fan the flames and make it worse. But, there must be some type of strategy that could marry online and traditional PR ... I am just not sure what it may be. Maybe vidcasting ... hello Blip.tv?

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Calling out fuckers

Okay, since I post my contact information (email address and IM names) on my blog, I get some interesting emails and IMs. I have met some great people through the blog as friends, colleagues, networking opportunities ... even new business.

And, I know I have teens that look at my blog, because I have had some very nice emails from high school and middle school students - and I always try to respond, and help them out. It's the same reason I'm a War Eagle - you know, for the kids (yes, Hudsucker Proxy reference).

So, I thought I got another one of those, but an unhappy one. Here it is, verbatim.

Subject: Are you the real jere
my pepper
From: Monica Salvitti (monica@revolutions.com.au)

We don't think so

Fucker

Okay, I laughed. I thought a 12-year-old got upset that I had the same name as a friend, so called me a "fucker" - it's immature, but hey, who can't remember the first time we realized we were not the only "Jeremy Pepper" or your own name? Come on, I was heart broken, and then totally weirded out. So, yah, the "we" would be Monica and her friend Jeremy Pepper.

But, wait, it is not a child or tween. It is an adult, a publicist in Australia that started a publicity firm, Revolutions Per Minute, in Australia. Maybe the "We" is her and Nicole Hart, her business partner. You think Sony Australia would train its people better than to attack randomly...

Why I am a fucker is beyond me - hell, I don't know anyone in Australia beyond other PR bloggers, and I am pretty sure that Paull Young, Trevor Cook and Lee Hopkins like me - or, at least tolerate me. :)

But, it makes me wonder. We are at a crossroad in PR - heck, I am speaking about this such thing at Web 2.0 Expo - and the fact is that the world is shrinking (not getting flat, sorry people). But, with Google and search and blogs - what you write and what you send electronically to people can be read by many if a person decides to blog it.

That is the best counsel you can give a client now - there is no such thing as a quiet launch, geography has disappeared, news has become worldwide. And, watch what you say or email.

Maybe you'll be the "fucker" on the other side of that email.

Photo by Chris Heuer - is that the face of a "fucker"?!?

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