PersonalDNA ... SF/SV PR MeetUp ... Blogging Right

You know, doing the PR blogger tour - or, well, just meeting other PR bloggers at a few past PR events - people ask me "why are you so hell bent on issues" or "what does it matter" when speaking about PR blogging, and the purity and honesty I demand from myself (at least try) and I demand of others.

So, today I am going to write about blogging. And, PR bloggers. And, well, best practices and why I seem to get so hyper about best practices ... pretty much pointing to a test I took online (and the new cool fun little icon on the left hand, bottom side).

Jeremy Pepper, Tom Biro
Originally uploaded by philgomes.

But, let's talk about PR. It was interesting, because the other day I was talking to another PR person about the PR blogosphere. Say that really fast.

My point was that most of us have a respect for each other, and occasionally share best practices. Yes, it is a competition as we all work at competing agencies, but at the same time we do not go around looking to stab each other in the back ... well, most of us, those of us who are not too big for their britches and then link (in false modesty) to people saying calling them a "guru."

PR is about growth, and it's about the next generation. It's about moving the industry forward, not moving one's ego forward. It's about the community as a whole, and helping that community grow. Why do I comment and link to the posts from Auburn students? Did I have any connection to them prior to two years ago? Not at all - but I caught a link to my blog, went to the page, embarrassed the girl ... and became involved for the past two years. Do I have any real vested interest (besides the hope that they send me Auburn schwag?). No - but I do have a vested interest in the future of PR.

The same goes for the blogging PR students from SMU - they were out there asking questions via email and on comments, and some PR bloggers responded. And, likely, some PR bloggers thought it was beneath them.

Me & Jeremy
Originally uploaded by philgomes.

But, that's the wrong attitude. Because, well, if we are not there for the students of PR - and, as noted by Edelman's Rick Murray (he's the guy in the corner), there is a desperate need for it - then, who will help? I work with the interns as well, to school them about blogs and blog search and smart blog practices, and it is not for me, but to help them in their careers.

As to that, I am leaking information on a group that was proposed by Mike Manuel, and which I, Giovanni Rodriguez and Phil Gomes are part of: Third Thursday.

The goal for Third Thursday is to share best ideas - and, no, this is not some ego event like the dead Going the Distance - but this is a group of PR bloggers that believe in moving the industry forward. It is about best practices, to hopefully kill stupid ideas ... like this one from Fleishman Hillard. But, it is all okay because FH apologized (from O'Dwyer's - subscription required): Fleishman-Hillard says it was wrong to "blog" about the disappearance of 12 giant St. Louis Cardinals redbirds from billboards in the St. Louis area without saying that it was in on the heist.

Yep, FH staffers went around to various message boards for fans of the St. Louis Cardinals' baseball team, and posted about "where the birds?!?" that went missing ... only to appear on the radio station billboard. So much for transparency in PR, which is one of the things that I have been harping on for the past year ... and heard mainly the chirping of crickets from the silence, or little girls giggling about the issue.

Originally uploaded by david parmet.

But, a junior staffer at Bite decided to pick up the baton ... one that had been sitting desolate on the ground for quite a while ... and go run with it. Why he did not post to the Bite Blog, I have no idea ... but he wrote it on Silicon Valley Watcher. He had some good points, the comments had some good points, but at the end of the day, is it that hard to disclose on a blog what you are doing (Bite, by the way, needs to disclose that Plaxo is a client, if that is why Plaxoed is such a favorite). Does PR want to sully its hands by doing guerrilla campaigns that lack transparency? How are we going to work in the new media, and how do we do it smart? That's a question on both transparency and moving us forward (and, hopefully, one we will figure out on Third Thursdays).

So, the PersonalDNA part - well, just read the page, and you will understand why I am the way I am about blogging, and transparency and why I think some people are bad for both PR and blogging ... and you can see the fun graphic on my page now.

Originally uploaded by Brian Oberkirch.

Oh, the pictures above? Those are just a handful of the PR bloggers that get it (and that I have photos with myself with). Tom Biro (full disclosure, sister firm) gets it. Phil Gomes gets it. Brian Oberkirch gets it. Josh Hallett gets it. Mike Manuel gets it. David Parmet gets it. Shel Israel gets it (although we argue about what it is at times).

No, that's not an exhaustive list. Check out the Auburn students, the instructor and Forward - they get it. Check out Robert Ricci (disclosure, he's a colleague). Check out Giovanni Rodriguez - although I think a recent post lacked transparency, he gets it. Check out Constantin Basturea and the Texas PR Bloggers ...
  1. Jeremy:

    Keep speaking up ... it's too important an issue to let die.

    Why? It's just far too easy for agencies to slide down the "slippery slope" and start gaming social media for their own financial gain.

    That's why during the Edelman-Wal-Mart discussion I wrote several times that the responsibility for transparency falls completely on the professional agency, not the amateur blogger.

    Everyone was writing that a blogger who was "bought" would lose credibility, but that's just hype. Who has more to lose -- the client and the agency, or the guy who started a blog for free and whose readership consists of people who think just like him?

  2. Isn't transparency all about simple honesty and ethics?

    I know every industry has its good and bad points. Too bad something as simple as honesty is not a strong point for PR. If we -- the PR and related marketing comms industries -- need a transparency "champion," it's sad, but appreciated. You've worn that hat already, so just keep it on.

    If transcripts or notes for your Third Thursday meetings are posted somewhere, do let the rest of us know.

    -- Mike

  3. Note to self, never take goofy face photographs when Phil Gomes or Jeremy Pepper are around.

    As for taking a stand on issues in general, I'm of the opinion that you *have* to do this sort of thing to keep moving the needle in whatever space you talk about (blogosphere or not) - hence my continued reading of this blog and your comments elsewhere. Good stuff.

  4. Great post, Jeremy. Keep doing what you are doing.

    Your mentoring of our students has been beneficial in so many ways. Students are better for having worked with you in their blogs.

    Also, keep the eye on what's right. That, too, is a role that you play well and - as Micheal said - it is kind of sad that we need a champion of trasnparency. It should be a given that all practitioners take the role on with pride.

  5. Wow Jeremy! After pulling a Houdini, you come back with a rockstar post that says more about PR than anything I've come across in a weeks. Nice pix, too :-)

  6. Jeremy, Bite's junior PR staffer here. Very glad to pick up the baton. :) Our relationship with Plaxo is listed on our website. Check it:

  7. Jeremy:

    Thanks for your post. It's all about transparency, transparency, transparency and not gaming the system.

    I'm also a beneficiary of Robert's great work over at so I have to give props where props are due. (Thanks Robert for putting together a great project and a great blogging community!)

    I'm curious about one thing though, there seems to be some bad blood between you and a certain prominent blogger that will remain nameless. (Yeah, for those of you who are curious, I was the one who called him a guru.)

    Anyway, any chance that you and him will work it out? I know it's none of my biz, but I thought I'd ask since I've noticed a few of the comments you made about him -- and you mentioned one of my blogs.

    Thanks again for the great post!

    Fard Johnmar

  8. The reason PR need a "Transparency Czar" is that a lot of people don't trust us to begin with. Until you build a good relationship with journalists, the default mode is skepticism. The public as a whole is harder to win over because of their assumption that we are spinning or have something to hide.

    Good PR people, when they perform well, become invisible. We are like offensive linemen -- we usually only get our name called when there is a penalty.

  9. So by your linking method am I to assume that I put the "PR" in "Texas PR Bloggers?"

    Jeremy, your intensity on this topic amazes me. I think you should be required to only post when drunk from now on.

    Works for me.

  10. Daniel, I know that Plaxo is a client of Bite, but the full transparency should be that you note on the blog that it is a client. It's a small detail, but a one that speaks volume about transparency.

    Fard, some A-listers have their priorities mixed up. PR is not all about blogs. And, contrary to their popular belief, it is not all about them. PR is not going away, and while blogs may be hot now, they will not be the only tool. The smart communicators will need to adopt.

    But, there is no bad blood, just a disappointment that he pushed and pitched himself as a leader, and never taken a leadership position. It's also a recognition of the lack of transparency. When the MSM does not check things, and continue to cite him as an expert (or, in your case, guru), who else will do it? The sad thing is the issue could be solved by just being transparent (moreso than just those links that he got exclusives - because we all get exclusives), and that is not hard to do.

    The saddest thing of all may be that he does not seem to realize that prac­ti­cing trans­par­ency will lift him, and PR overall, up ... not bring him down. It is the lack of trans­par­ency by any PR blogger that does more harm than good - for all of us.

  11. Scott: I am willing to concede the PR in the Texas PR Bloggers to you, you rule after all! I am just glad I got in there at all. I think Texas may be on the verge of a Tipping Point ;-)

    Jeremy: I appreciate all you are doing with the Auburn students and also with the Blog Run, it is a really helpful resource. I also appreciate that you write when you have something to say and aren't all that worried about your stats or your ranking (though both are still excellent, Houdini or no).

    And yes, I am very interested in learning how to "move things forward." It is, in fact, why I blog at all.

  12. Jeremy:

    Thanks for your rapid, candid and transparent ;) response to my post, I appreciate it.



  13. Jeremy,
    I just wanted to let you know that we, Auburn students, appreciate you and anyone else that is willing to help us out. I like that you are willing to stand for something that you believe in. Transparency and good intentions are important for gaining the respect of others. There are those that treat those new to the practice of blogging as an annoyance. It is egotistical people like this that prevent this practice from moving forward like it should.

    I hope to someday work for an agency that shares similar beliefs to yours. We should all be working together to move this forward. Those who are unvilling to contribute should be made aware that they are only hurting themselves and their business.

  14. As usual, your commentary is as insightful as it is entertaining. Keep it up, buddy!

  15. The same goes for the blogging PR students from SMU - they were out there asking questions via email and on comments, and some PR bloggers responded.

    Wow, I don't think I ever got an email or comment from an Auburn student. I would sure be flattered if I did.

    I'm flattered if anyone reads my blog.

  16. Jeremy, you're absolutely right. At the end of the day, what keeps this profession alive and kicking are the people and their passion for PR. We have to believe in ourselves and what the profession is about, and do our best to grow PR, whether it is by helping the next generation, or educating clients as we go along.

    We need to communicate the enthusiasm, passion, excitement and value of PR, as much as we communicate the positive values of our clients.

    We are used to being the voice of others. Maybe it's time we found our own and spoke up, people!


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