Posted by Amanda Chapel
For those not familiar with the phrase "donkey dust," it was my mother's way to point out that one was full of shit. See, ladies don't say "shit." I was also taught that we also don't open doors. And to smoke while walking is just plain "white trash."
So with that said, I think Richard Edelman is full of... well... donkey dust. Frankly, I think it just might be the root of his renowned Cheshire smirk.
As most of my blogger brethren are aware, we here at Strumpette have recently been busy peeling back the leaves of the artichoke, so to speak. Let me tell ya, it might have choked Artie but it won't choke Amanda. Regrettably, like the PR that filled the Tech Bubble, we are finding it difficult to find any there there with the their "Me2Revolution." We concluded it's just a sham.
The email that follows and especially the subsequent response from Richard Edelman, et al., says it all:
Nothing, Nada, Zero, Squat! Not a word! As any card-carrying Buddhist would tell you, silence is not the volume turned down; it's the volume full up. And what their silence says clearly is "Richard Edelman is full of donkey dust."
CONCLUSION and COMMENTARY
If there is one thing that bothers me about PR today, it's the degree to which people are so completely full of it. It's terrible. It's absolutely epidemic. And this Me2Crap is a perfect example.
See, Edelman doesn't want real engagement. They don't! Real engagement is like sex. If it's any good, intimacy is sweaty, wet and messy. Companies aren't new to that. Conversations with customers are standard-business practice. They just do it with a little sense of decorum privately and properly behind closed doors. A beaner in the park is fun when you're young and drunk... but I would think getting caught as an adult is a drag. Later in life, when one actually has something to lose, that might be a little embarrassing and have real-life consequences.
Moreover, Edelman certainly isn't advocating "open" and "ceding control" with regard to themselves. How girlie is that? No matter what anybody tells you, business, as an animal, is male. "Open" and "ceding control" is tantamount to taking it in the giggy. Frankly, the only firm that I know of that can honestly boast that is Fleishman's "Out Front" Practice maybe.
The real problem is that Edelman is not alone in the ruse. They're just the loudest. Holtz, Hobson, Hynes, and the majority of the PR blogger elite are out beating the drums on the supposed benefits of corporate blogging. As I've been rather vocal in my frustration with that, a colleague (and PR blogging personality ironically) commented that "they don't necessarily believe it; they're just clinging to the next new thing out of desperation and giving themselves a pass."
And there it is... THAT'S IT!!! That's why I am so bothered by it. See, PR today is completely contradictory to its roots. In a recent commentary, Jack O'Dwyer, nailed it, "WPP's recent blockage of questions by stockholder John Fiorilla is symptomatic of the harsh tactics being used by some institutions in their relations with the press and public. Such tactics were common in the early 1900's and led Ivy Lee to invent the industry of PR which would cheerfully provide truthful answers to reporters. A backlash had developed to the rampages of the 'Robber Barons' that was resulting in tough anti-trust laws."
With that said, blogs, like any new thing, was supposed to be fully of hope. The promise was to level the playing field, but first and foremost to help institutions with concept of honesty. However, blogs have already been co-opted by PR as a tool to distribute propaganda more widely. And their first clients are themselves.
Sad. No, it's downright depressing. I was recently bemoaning this to an idol of mine who runs a $10 billion company. His response was that "business sees through people like Richard."
I responded that "Maybe from up on the mountaintop; But down here, the mob doesn't work things out without lynching a few innocents first." Bottom line: even with that exorcise, they still don't work it out. Down here, someone other than a few select beneficiaries always pays the price.
Which brings me back to the use of the phrase "donkey dust." My mother used it to make something vile and noxious sound innocent. It's not. Apparently, my training in PR started early.
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
Thank goodness for at least one sane voice in all this b.s. some are so disturbingly calling a "conversation". First of all, "Me2Revolution" is a stupid, stupid, stupid name that lends absolutely no credence from a business perspective. But I guess when there's no there there all that's left to do is come up with a fluffy name. Second and more importantly, the concept behind this practice is hardly a revolution -- owning the dialogue rather than simply being a participant was the cornerstone of the work we did at Applied Communications back in the 90s and early 2000s before the firm was acquired by Bite. Alan Kelly got it long before Richard Edelman.
And, in my opinion, Alan still gets it where Edelman does not. Both may understand in their heart of hearts that owning the dialogue means holding on to the message, whether by finessed, strategic moves not always visible to the public or by more muscled means, but at least Alan doesn't try to apologize for it by saying that companies need to cede control. And there's the rub...Edelman's public assertions don't match the firm's internal decisions, and that's why companies don't see them as credible.
It's not my job to stick up for Edelman or any other firm, but I'll play a little devil's advocate, with you. (That's devil with a blue dress on, if you get the off-topic reference.)
Anyway, as you likely know, there is a line of thinking in social media, WOM marketing, blogging, etc., that you don't have to respond to every negative or confrontational blog post. Or, communication like e-mail, for that matter. So, Edelman and et al responding to you would've given you a level of credibility. You're just a voice in the wind.
Besides, as in talk radio, the host blogger always gets the last word. It's hardly ever a level playing field. If Richard Edelman responds, it'll be on his own terms. (Kind of like how GM countered Friedman's NYT columns. See my blog and check the June posts.)
So, why should Edelman and his company respond to you? He/It won't benefit in anyway. Ignore you long enough, and you'll hopefully go away. If what you really say has any credibility or credence, others will pick up on it, and join in. Then, Edelman Inc. will have to respond.
It's all pretty simple.
The simple part is that that is, they are, totally disingenuous and hypocritical.
I cover those situations in some detail in the article. I suggest you reread the conclusions in my email to Richard.
Lastly, I wonder if the stick-your-head-in-the-sand-and-hope-it-goes-away plan is included as a contingency with every Me2 client engagement. Ya think?
I know Neville personally and he's a well-meaning individual who sees the world from a 'glass half full' perspective. I don't always agree with the man but he gneuinely believes in the power of this medium. Using your approach Amanda - there's no point in slagging off someone who is genuine, if, according to your criteria, they'd qualify as an idiot. And Neville isn't one of those either.
I am sorry... I cannot tell from your sentence whether you'd like me to give Neville a pass or not.
But that said, you do bring up an interesting point that needs to be explored. If someone "genuinely" believes in a shaky premise... do they deserve leniency? I guess the answer to that is that it depends on how thick the "wall." Is Neville open to opposing view? Like Edelman, I don't think so.
The name - Me2Revolution - is probably appropriate for what they're trying to do, i.e. waving their hands and shouting "Me too! We can do that for you, Ms. Client!" and calling it a revolution. Looks like they're trying to appear to be driving the bandwagon instead of jumping on it. Meanwhile, the wagon's got no wheels and isn't going anywhere. Does this revolution have any clients, does anyone know?
Clients? I don't think so. My understanding is that the majority of Edelman as a company isn't even buying it internally.
I'd say the second part is correct...the troops aren't all in lock-step with with general's battle plan.
The "revolution" does indeed have clients, though I can't say for certain whether those clients bought in under the Me2 banner. Edelman's work with Wal-Mart and the company's blogging exercise is a good example. Sadly, one of Edelman's most touted cases on the power of the Me2 revolution and ceding control of the message is also one of the best examples of Edelman counseling a client to take back control of the message. If Edelman and Wal-Mart were truly interested in participating in the dialogue and letting the public/consumers make up their own mind, they simply would have participated in the blogs already in action rather than setting up their own corporate propoganda (and I don't use that term as a negative) blog. There's no further proof necessary to show that Edelman knows letting go of the message doesn't/can't work -- Wal-Mart HAS to control the message. If they don't, somebody else will and, in that case, Wal-Mart has no chance of winning.
I'm a pretty simple person, and this "Me2Revolution" looks like the same kind of stuff that brought us "disintermediation" during the big dot.com craze. It's that "either you get it or you don't" crap that had PR geniuses touting bullshit dot.coms run by still-in-diapers CEOs while sneering at long-established Fortune 500 companies.
Lastly, please stop calling this a "revolution." For us liberal-arts majors who studied history and government, a revolution is the total overthrow of the old order. The dot.coms didn't do it and neither will the bloggers. And, don't forget, you will know it's the revolution because there will be no commercials.
U are sooooooo funny to read Amanda!!
U crack me up!
Shine on U Crazy Daimond*
sadly Syd Barrett* of Pink Floyd passed away*
Don't give Nev a pass, but I think you should have drinks with him and talk shop a bit. I think you'll like what he has to say. Matt's right.
The key here is this: Inviting bloggers to participate in the "conversation" isn't actually participating in a conversation. It's just shifting the top-down message delivery's tone and delivery vehicle.
You want a real conversation? You create a communications ecosystem in which a) your customers become visible participants in your PR mechanism, b) your responses to their feedback is public, and c) the impact of this "conversation" is showcased in your marketing and corporate identity. (Proof that it isn't all about appearances and lip service.)
Anything short of that isn't a conversation.
About Richard Edelman's commitment to blogs.....
I sent Mr Edelman's blog a post about his response to Sir Martin Sorrell's philosophical remarks re: the media power structure... nothing profound, just my ideas... two days later I received a personal email from Mr Edelman replying, in a considered and detailed manner, to what I had said on his site.
Fair's fair - he does believe in this, and he takes the trouble to walk the talk.
- Did you at all challenge him? Of course, if you are agreeing with him, I suspect he'll be cordial.
- With regard to him believing in this Me2Revolution stuff... indeed as he whistles on his way to the bank.
PS Suggested reading: DIGITAL MAOISM: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism, By Jaron Lanier (http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/lanier06/lanier06_index.html ). It's about a month old but truly a seminal piece.
QUOTE: "The hive mind is for the most part stupid and boring. The problem is in the way the Wikipedia has come to be regarded and used; how it's been elevated to such importance so quickly. And that is part of the larger pattern of the appeal of a new online collectivism that is nothing less than a resurgence of the idea that the collective is all-wise, that it is desirable to have influence concentrated in a bottleneck that can channel the collective with the most verity and force. This is different from representative democracy, or meritocracy. This idea has had dreadful consequences when thrust upon us from the extreme Right or the extreme Left in various historical periods. The fact that it's now being re-introduced today by prominent technologists and futurists, people who in many cases I know and like, doesn't make it any less dangerous."
Storm in a teacup love. Digital Maoism has so much more cred because Jaron has dreadlocks. If Pope Benedict said that Wikipedia was pernicious, the next question would be "Is Opus Dei's usage of the cilice a bit kinky?" Which it has to be for God's sake.
Anyway Richard Edelman may be 'well meaning' but that's for poorly chosen family gifts, not the upheaval of being answered back at boardroom level, which incidentally he'd better learn to do or his rep as a bit on the stiff side that is racing up the charts on this blog will stick. He might even need a P.R. firm to neutralise shit like that.
No offense Mr Edelman but you can't attempt to 'pop it like it's hot' and slum it with the little stakeholders through silence. Get it off your chest and don't be frightened to get it wrong. Mistakes can be endearing, embarrassing or contentious but they are authentic and that's the gig, or part of it.
You asked if I was agreeing with Richard Edelman. No, I was taking Sir Martin Sorrell's side, as it happens.
The point I was trying to make is that many people have dissed Richard Edelman for, as they aver, pretending to engage with the worldwide PR community via his blog while not really doing so.
I wanted your readers to know that, in this instance at least, he read the post and replied thoughtfully.
So - fair's fair.
Just checked your comments to my defense of Neville. Not happy. You make judgments without knowing the person concerned. That's atrocious. I thought you were smart. Now I know - you're smart all right - a smart arse with baseless opinions.
Say what you wish - my attention's outta here.
And you're on notice - you're in my spam filter. Why?
Intelligent, sensible debate I can handle. Trolls? I don't entertain under any circumstances. No wonder Edelman doesn't answer your emails.
Apparently, you are not open to opposing view either. Here's the quote. It happens to be fact!
"The real problem is that Edelman is not alone in the ruse. They're just the loudest. Holtz, Hobson, Hynes, and the majority of the PR blogger elite are out beating the drums on the supposed benefits of corporate blogging."
Now with regard to "troll," fuck you. My commentary is not personal. It is strictly about the business of PR and how individuals conduct that business, or not regrettably. Are we out to "annoy and antagonize the existing members or disrupt the flow of discussion?" Considering that the discussion of the PR blogger elite is completely full of shit, I sure hope so.
With regard to your attention, you're not in PR. Now with regard to Edelman's lack of attention... that's called ignorance.
Thank you for the critique. Although the web does have benefits in marketing, exposure, and networking..But wait I have yet to test that out fully and will inform you later....The point is....a new medium or environment establishes a social heirarchy---usually white men....so I dont believe that everyone will have equal benefits for a number of reasons..lack of access, lack of know how, lack of education, etc...and wanting in on the action but havent got a darn clue how to get a piece of that pie or empty promises from a web "snake oil" salesman.