Posted by Amanda Chapel
I need to preface this some. For those readers not necessarily familiar with Strumpette, I am NOT a big fan of the PR Blogger elite. There seems to be a central hypocrisy to what they evangelize. Money is at its core. Actually, I find that the majority of them are self-promoting numb nuts with little to add considering that amount of our oxygen they seem to consume. But on the other hand, there are people like Mike Manuel.
Mike manages Social Media Services for Voce Communications, a boutique PR firm located in Palo Alto. He is currently an Advisory Board Member and the Best Practices Chairman for the Society of New Communications Research. He is also a regular contributor to WebProNews and the Corante Network where he writes about PR, new media and marketing trends. His blog Media Guerrilla was twice voted "Best PR Blog" by Marketing Sherpa and the Business Blog Awards. Mike also has received honorable mention honors for the 2005 Technorati/AlwaysOn Open Media 100 List.
In a sentence... Mike's the real deal. That's a fact. As I am also one to deep discount PR credentials, per se, I focus on words and especially where one's words align with action. Actions speak louder than.
Here... last week we at Strumpette got into a little dispute with Mike. Mike had previously posted a link about Strumpette that ended up very high in Google's ranking, which, in Mike's words, had "some ugly tags" associated. It was borderline pornographic. It was a juvenile prank that went bad and ultimate resulted in harm. Oh, well, seemed like a fun idea at the time.
Anyway, we called him on it. We called Voce on it. And in short order, our disputed escalated out of control. We were soon at Def Con 4. The warheads were armed. Lawyers were appraised and ready. We were but a hair breath away from the launch sequence.
How'd that happen? It was a combination of things. First, there was perhaps some naivete and subsequent misinterpretation of law. That was followed by a little testosterone in defense of presumed rights. That was then thoroughly complicated by a challenge to authority. In the words of Richard Cline, president of Voce, "Let's dance." And who could fault him for wanting to dance with a fetching strumpette. And in the presence of pretty, who could blame him for temporarily forgetting Crisis Communications 101: admit the mistake, take responsibility, correct the mistake and apologize. That was reduced to: obfuscate, side step and threaten. Not good. Not prudent.
Anyway, with the advice of council, we then forwarded to them select lines from our draft legal claim for "tortuous interference," as well as a link providing an overview of "respondeat superior" (Latin for "let the master answer").
Well, soon after that we were pleasantly surprised with a complete public apology. Mike says that it was completely of his own volition, "there was no pressure from Rich or any other source to do this." He did it because it was the right thing to do. I believe him.
Done. "I sincerely apologize." With three simple words the crisis was over. We, of course, immediately instructed our forces to stand down.
Lessons learned? Really, there's one... and it's pretty clear in Mike's apology. The key on the net is to police oneself.
But sadly how rare is that? This new medium his given access to people that otherwise would have been kept from the public microphone, so to speak. Unfortunately, its hype aside, the "conversation" has become the perfect medium to quickly spread and magnify ignorance. It also, like no other medium, has helped lightweights congregate with peers to give the appearance of girth and broad acceptance.
And who holds the blogger to task? No one really. Because, the system, by its nature, is marginalized. That lone practitioner likely has no money. As such, he's virtually judgment proof. And in a world of little consequence and made up character, what's of any value? Not a lot. Project that out some and tell me what value the net has in five years. Depressing forecast.
Alternatively, God always seems to throw a glimmer of hope to the abject cynic. That said, we at Strumpette are humbled, hopeful and deeply grateful. It was/is a lesson for all of us. Thank you Mike.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
Yet here is the rub: physician, heal thyself.
I do not mean to be flip or coy. If one buys into the "playground ref" analogy (and I do, because it is strong and apt,) then Amanda needs to understand why the PR-blogrealm is so polarized.
Amanda, you sat on the sidelines and watched "the game" as it was being played. You thought the game could be better, an opinion to which you are entitled. You've certainly backed up your opinion about PR-blogodrama, and stated your philosophical objectives enough that I can clearly choose which of your premises I can agree with, and those I cannot.
Which brings us to the logical extension of Mike's analogy. You entered the game in progress and started punching people in the nose. Some of us took it better than others, some have easily-bruisable egos, and some have declared Jihad upon you. Exactly what did you expect would happen? I honestly believe that 80% of the friction generated came from the defensive posturing that accompanied your splashy debut.
If I assigned your blog as reading to new PR-blogging types, and started them out with what is now "page 8" of your archive, you would be congratulated on your outspoken nature, your reasoning, and your philosophically contrarian view. (It does exist -- John Wagner comes to mind.) We need thinking like that.
When the fists started flying, there was a lot of traffic in the room, but the energy was all heat and no light.
I'm glad you have patched things up with Mike. And I better understand your position about who ought to blog and their reasons for doing so, even if I don't always agree. But don't you think it's time for you to "man up" and whistle yourself for a couple of playground fouls? You've got the readership and the following, so you don't need the archived posts as evidence anymore. Follow Mike's lead, walk down that path of sincerity, and bare all.
If there's anything I've ever learned from a Strumpette, it's more fun to score with one than without one.
"But don't you think it's time for you whistle yourself for a couple of playground fouls? You've got the readership and the following, so you don't need the archived posts as evidence anymore. Follow Mike's lead, walk down that path of sincerity, and bare all."
Do I think it's time? Almost. We're certainly close.
See... Strumpette was set out as a mirror. As such, I fully recognize that it's a perfect nightmare. It's judge and criminal. It's sinner and salvation. I am the worse case and relying on the honestly of openly admitting it. I am the snake oil huckster that tells you this stuff will kill ya.
Functionally speaking, as a rhetorical tool, Strumpette is both a character and caricature. It's that mix that grabs readers by the throat. And it is that combination that has a far greater potential to affect a cure than just some individual's perspective, however insightful.
But I hear you, Ike. Frankly, I agree totally. I am truly ready to quit. But every time I think that, some knucklehead presents me with another lead.
Maybe next week. Something to think about.
Amanda, I love the Voce guys -- they are friends of mine from earlier in my career. However, isn't it enough that we have to see Manuel's grill, and his comments about new media, plastered throughout every issue of PRWeek? The magazine seems to think that Manuel is the only blogging expert in the agency world. Sheesh....
I hear you. I'd only say that there are a lot of scouts that could provide perspective from the trail; but Mike's credentials are definitely of the Eagle Scout class. He's got all the right merit badges for sure. Hard not to defer to that.