Meh or Shmay, 2010 is Just Another Year

I don't blog much. It's partially because I have other priorities that come first: work, life, friends, gym. The blog is not an extension of my persona, but a place I can write about the industry.

I don't blog much as I've moved my thoughts onto Twitter, where I can push off one-liners that can still be thought provoking and start conversations.

I don't blog as much as I'm waiting on the move of my blog to (which I'm thinking of just calling @jspepper) and will incorporate the oft-ignored Pitch Blog and twitter but will not be called the uninspirational, not new and not groundbreaking lifestreaming. Lifestreaming isn't new, and if you want a great example that's been around for years, go look at News @ Cisco.

And I don't blog as much because PR/SM blogging has become Barney - I love you, you love me. And that's just shit because PR and social media should be about calling out the bullshit, pointing out the inconsistencies, demanding case studies or examples that move beyond personal experience - I don't care what you can do for yourself on Twitter, oh social media expert. Show me what you've done for others - because personal means very little in the corporate world. Yes you might have your fanboys, but see how many stick around when you go corporate.

Through this concept of community, PR (and now SM) has become cheerleaders for one another. No one (well, no one that is respected) is pointing that these emperors have no clothes, and I'm tired of doing it. Tired and don't have the energy to take it on myself. I get the backchannel comments that "damn, you're right" - get out of the shadows and speak up, and help save PR and social media from becoming a punchline of a joke.

There's plenty I have to write, and most of it is pricking the balloon and upsetting the apple cart. Let's be honest here, and realize that:
  • PR 2.0 is a sham and nothing new. Well, actually it's a scam and by my count, we're on PR 8.0. But the thing is that those that subscribe to the PR 2.0 notion ignore, well, the real users are are too caught up in the social media bloggers and realm. Hey, guess what, most likely those aren't your users and your ignoring mainstream press and telling a good story.
  • The social media release is a joke. If you go look at most SMRs on sites such as PitchEngine, the problem is not press release versus SMR, it's just that the content sucks. Not all items are news, and putting it into an SMR isn't going to magically make it news. How about focus, and better writing? How about less market speak and more storytelling? You get what you pay for, and most of that is free. And let's not forget that wire noise IS a viable PR strategy.
  • There are tons of examples of unethical practices in public relations, but no one (including me) are pointing them out. Why not?
  • Social media is just one tool in the PR toolbox. Not sure how many times I can say that, but I will continue to say it. And while it is a nice buzzword, it is not going to change the world and not going to change corporations unless they really want to change and listen to customers and engage. You can give lip service, but it's just that. And, you know what junior staffers? It's best left NOT to you, but to senior PR people that understand those little things like strategy, tactics, and have a long view of the clients, the space and the industry. So thank you very little and now STFU and learn from those in the industry longer than one year.
Yes, these are all posts - and more - that I have started in 2009, and should finish for 2010. But, I'm trying to have a balance, and like that I do yoga and workout and am healthier than I ever was before. And that wasn't from a new year's resolution, that was just a decision I made one day.

That's the key. You don't need a special day to change yourself. You can do it any day. And, what that really means for me is to point out the issues and help make PR or social media better. If you want to be that expert - or have changed yourself to be that expert - and cannot take criticism, then maybe you aren't that change agent that you think you are. If you have a thin skin, and cannot take criticism, then get out. Seriously, get out because criticism is what makes you better, and the whining that a thick skin makes you hard is an excuse because you cannot take criticism and don't want to improve. That includes me - bring it on, if it's constructive. If it's ad hominem, I'll defend and reciprocate.

That's my 2010 message: you don't need a special day to decide to improve or be better or make something better. But have a great New Year's, and hope your 2010 is what you make it and want it to be.

BTW, if you want a different point-of-view, check out Doug Haslam's very nice post on 2010. Great post, great ideas and comments, even if I don't agree 100 percent. ;)
  1. Oh, I like your style. Doesn't every industry become lovey-dovey after a while?

  2. Hi Jeremy,

    I agree with a lot of what you're saying, and find myself also very frustrated at the pat-each-others-backs mentality that is pervading in the largely self-serving Social Media industry.

    I'm also highly irritated by the amount of crap content that points out the obvious under the guise of 'how to' and '5 steps to'. There seems to be a total lack of actual methodic framework strategy, which is what I'm currently writing a lot about.

    And finally, I agree that little of the SM world seems to be actually 1. having any proof for all they are talking about, and 2. doing anything to actually help the world and bring about social change.

    All the best,

  3. Jeremy - I'd like to say kudos for a refreshingly candid blog post, but I don't want to sound like one of those contemptuous cheerleaders. In fact, you almost make me feel obliged to tell you you're wrong in one way or another.

    Despite that impulse, I think you're entirely on-the-mark regarding the need for some legit proof to back up the lofty claims. I was especially annoyed a few months ago with all the hype surrounding Twitter's influence on Hollywood box office. I'm not saying that Twitter buzz can't influence the success or failure of new film (I'm sure it can), but none of the stories or related comments I read on the topic bothered to cite any sort of proof -- once the idea was out there, everyone drank the Kool Aid and accepted it as fact. Ditto for the social media release -- I'm all for adding links and multimedia assets, but they don't by themselves give value to an otherwise worthless announcement.

    So thanks for the worthwhile blog post... and don't STFU! :)

  4. This is a very refreshing post. I am in my third year at the University of Sunderland and about to go out into the world of PR and we have been taught about social media. This has been great for me as I have had skills that experienced practitioners haven't necessarily had and has helped me to get noticed during work experience.

    However, I think there is a problem with things that you believe should happen. For example, pointing out PR's unethical practices will undoubtedly damage its own reputation; couldn't this undermine its perceived value to companies and possibly damage the PR industry as a whole?

    Another view though is that it is in line with the CIPR where you should remain open, honest and transparent and surely pointing out the unethical will only make the industry stronger and more focussed in the future, cutting out bad practice. It is a difficult choice to make. To me it looks like a catch twenty two.

    Overall though I do agree with the fact that Social Media is not the be all and end all of PR, it is another tool in the PR toolbox and should be used appropriately. For me personally although I take part in blogging and tweeting I do so to take part in these conversations, broaden my knowledge and overall get a job at the end of my degree. I want to be a well rounded practitioner and not necessarily a one trick pony, it may suit others and I haven’t got anything against being a social media ‘expert’ but it just isn’t me, or at least not at the moment.

    All the best

  5. Jeremy, you've already said most of it. And it's considered bad manners to link back to something you wrote three years ago that lays waste to what most assume is brand spanking new.

    There reason there are so few telling the truth and calling out the BS is because there is no money in it. You and I have punctured balloons as pure avocation, because it's just fun for us. But we're wired differently.

  6. And, you know what junior staffers? It's best left NOT to you, but to senior PR people that understand those little things like strategy, tactics, and have a long view of the clients, the space and the industry. So thank you very little and now STFU and learn from those in the industry longer than one year.

    Guess I should shut my mouth, then! ;-)

  7. Nice post, lots of great points. BTW, did you see that I included you in my 'Original Gangsters' post :)

  8. ITA with Tyler, et al. that I like your style. There is too much back patting, self promotion, spin and buzz out here in PR and Social Media, not enough sleeve rolling and getting the job done. Look forward to more posts.

  9. wow dude. came across your post via @cthilk.

    This post echoes my everyday struggle with respect. Ill bet half these "experts" havent brought in $100k in a year. Prolly not even $50k. Anyone disagreeing with you is either 1) new to the game or 2) still drinking the juice.

    My hope is that one day people will have the frankness and balls to call people out. A 14 year old knows more about social than most of us, let's be truthful. Good post.


  10. Reading this post was extremely refreshing. I am required to read other public relations blogs for my online classes, and I get tired of reading about everything positive and happy all the time, when I guarantee that is not always the case, especially for a field where dealing with problems and fixing issues is the main job. One of my online classes deals specifically with social media and the ways it is changing public relations, and I love that you do not think it is necessarily going to "change the world." I cannot agree more. While it is an excellent tool for companies to use in creating easy relationships with customers, it does have its faults and is not as great as it's played up to be. People can talk all they want about change and making a positive contribution to the world of pubic relations and communications, but I have not been that impressed with anything that I have learned about. Until something absolutely amazing comes along and causes people everywhere to live easier, then I will be convinced. Until then, I will enjoy honest and down-to-earth blogs like yours.

  11. Exactly."Social Media" is just a tool. It provides a platform for two-way communication but will not fundamentally change anything if either sides of the communication is not into real discussion or any constructive ideas.


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