Posted by Amanda Chapel
A Chronicle of the Media-PR Flamenco
First, let me tell you up front, it just didn't work out. Okay? No hard feelings. I knew what I was getting in to and did it anyway. Whatever brief affair I had with Howard Kurtz is apparently over.
This is a story of total infatuation. It's a reiteration of what I have relearned a thousand times, "the flame that burns brightest; burns out quickest." And I always end up feeling burnt.
From the beginning: about three days ago, Tuesday, July 18, 2006 11:05 AM to be exact, a total stranger walked into my life and was to change it forever.
Howard Kurtz is the media reporter for The Washington Post and writes a regular column called Media Notes. He's the host of the weekly CNN program Reliable Sources. Marcy says that I am having a celebrity-induced hallucination but I think he's drop-dead gorgeous.
I am sitting at my desk and I get an email that says simply, "Hi, Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post here. Can we talk? Is there a number at which I can reach you? Thanks."
Of course, my heart skips about six beats. Nothing more sexy than a successful man who wants to know all about you. My knees shake. My palms get sweaty. Howard Kurtz! I imagine us on some deserted Polynesian island, a gaggle of kids, living on seafood bisque, wild rise and coconut. Life is carefree, filled with sun, sand, love and laughter.
So, true to form, I play a little hard to get. I respond, "Regrettably, we are a little (a lot) shy when it comes to interviews." I raise my fan to cover me face. Smart girls run away from the boys and hide in order to catch them. Howard and I spend the day secretly trading emails.
"Are you 5'4"?" he asks. "Do you have more than 15 years in the PR business?" "Are you enjoying the attention that Strumpette has stirred up?" "Are you concerned at all by some of the sniping?" Note: His interests are physical, my accomplishments and about my psyche (and in that order). And then he wants to know if I feel vulnerable. I'll tell ya... when it comes to seduction, that's what they call "all the food groups." Wow.
And he's politely persistent. "Is there any way, perhaps in a brief phone conversation, that you could tell me OFF THE RECORD and NOT TO BE REVEALED EVEN IF I HAVE TO GO TO JAIL what your real name is?" This is the media-PR flamenco! Again, I raise my fan.
And then his overtures went public, VERY PUBLIC. On Wednesday at 8:54 AM, The Post ran "'Who Is Strumpette?' By Howard Kurtz." The intensity of the dance rose significantly. I stomped my stilettos and together we raced toward crescendo.
The dreadlocked tech guy behind the scenes, working my server, was scattered but cool. I got an email where the intro was a quote from Bob Marley, "Aint no rules, aint no vow, we can do it anyhow: I will see you through, cos everyday we pay the price with a little sacrifice, jammin till the jam is through." He was obviously stressed. Sounds like the ganja was helping him keep it all together. We were up to about 50 visitors a minute; I am told. "It's holding, mam," he said. "But I don't think she can take too much more."
As if he heard him, Howard then turned up the heat. From small-type link near the bottom of The Post's website under "News Columns and Blogs," we were moved up to one of the four top stories on the front-page. Our traffic tripled instantly. During the course of about 12 hours, we had 11,178 visitors and 319,242 hits. "OH MY GOD! DON'T STOP! DON'T STOP!," I heard myself. Your little Strumpette crashed twice!! Trust me, it take a lot to get me there. I may be good but I ain't easy.
And then as unexpectedly as it all started, at 7:52 PM Wednesday it was over. We were off the front page. Howard was gone. And then he didn't call. Nothing. Not a word.
Okay, like I said, I've been through this a thousand times. It's a cycle. And then to fill the void, you eat and you start to ruminate over just what had happened. That regrettably is never pretty.
A fan, Peter Shankman, said it all, "You're no one until The Washington Post writes an article about you that has no real purpose or point." Exactly right. Although very flattering and totally titillating, Kurtz' story really left me empty the day after. In light of the recent ideological debate with Jarvis about what this whole populist blogging phenomena means... whether a mob "bearing pitchforks and torches" is ethical let alone legal... a story exclusively about my identity really missed an opportunity.
But then it really hit me. There I was, Washington Post front page news, "A 'Naked' Approach to PR," directly below (same oversized type) "Israeli Bombs Bunker in Beirut" and right above "House Protects 'Under God'." The juxtapose is almost pornographic (and we're not talkin' good porn).
Again, I've been through this a thousand times. After a media affair, you always feel a little less off then if you hadn't had done it at all. It's pretty depressing actually. Maybe this is where I quit Strumpette. I mean, if that's all there is, what's the point?
Sure, I guess I could always give in to it. Now that I am a celebrity with vacuous notoriety... there's always Edelman. I expect Richard will now be sending me roses and candy... or maybe a car hint hint. I feel so cheap. Like a PR Strumpette. :)
Well here I am, barely off the ferry and already getting back in the blogging saddle, as it were.Â There were hundreds of RSS feeds awaiting my return and as I scanned them I was struck by the ebb and flow of the PR blogosphere.Â A week offline gives...
Weblog: Strive Notes
Tracked: Jul 22, 15:51
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You might be naked, but in the pathetic world of covering the PR industry, you're the only one who's not a complete whore. Some advice: Never let H&K, Edelman, FH and the rest of that gang buy ads on your site or your newsletter. Don't give awards to the same guys that require huge entry fees. Don't host expensive awards banquets and demand the assholes you cover buy tables. And NEVER show up at their senior management meetings and charge a huge fee for telling them what they're doing wrong. If you need money, go to LA and market a sitcom or movie. The PR business makes the advertising and fashion worlds seem boring.
Hi, Have you heard about the UK female blogger who was sacked for gross misconduct, and she was nowhere near as naughty as you. She lived in Paris and wrote a web journal which has become very popular. She is now hoping to write a book. http://elleeseymour.blogspot.com/2006/07/it-helps-that-shes-blonde-and-pretty.html
I did see that. Certainly underscores the need for anonymity.
I think everyone just clicked through to see if they could find any naked pictures, and fortunately you deliver at the top of the first page.
Just popped by to say "Hi".
Good luck with the blog. Remember, "content is king" and the more vanilla you become the less you will be read.
Jack Friday aka "Insider"
"A question no one is asking"! Apparently Paul is a bit out of touch. My traffic is only about ten times the Holmes Report.
Maybe he should add a picture of himself half naked. Oh God, I just made myself sick.
A shame about Howard's article. As far as his quest for your ID, who can blame him? Who can blame a media reporter for trying to unveil the Strumpette? Could you imagine if he got a name? Editor coming to him the next day, slapping Kurtz on the back, and praising him with a cigar dangling out of the corner of his mouth, "Helluva job there Kurtz, way to find out that Strumpette was really Mr. Wieten, owner of the spooky amusement park. Would've gotten away with it too if it weren't for those damn kids." As far as the reporter ceasing correspondence, I feel your pain. I am sure that most account coordinators feel your pain, being used up by the media. Thus is our symbiotic relationship. Engaging in e-mails and phone calls, confirming dates for our clients and their events, promising them they can speak about the topical issues of the day...
Then the event/interview comes. The rush of blood to the head, the almost audible beating of the heart, building up to the ecstacy of rising anticipation of going out to the news stand to see if your client's been quoted in their story, to see if your event has occupied just a little bit of their print space, right next to that coupon of 2-for-1 roast beef sandwiches at Arby's or those annoying little Ameritrade ads....
And then it's over. You collect yourself, brush back your hair, smoke a cigarette, and get ready to do it all over again.The client's quoted, or not, and subsequently happy, or not. You write the reporter, telling them to contact you any time they need help with their coverage of . You represent a lot more sources that could talk about , or . Sometimes you get a response back, usually not. "We'll speak again," "I'll keep you in mind," "Thanks for your help." Heartbreaking.
Oh don't get me wrong. I have my normal customers. Come in for a chat, leave with a quote. Every AC worth their salt does. But it's those good ones, your Reuters and AP's and NYTimes, and of course, the elusive Wall Street Journals, with their fancy fonts and cool pictures made of dots; the elusive reporters that never seem to ring twice.
Oh well, enough of my drawn out, multi-paragraph metaphor. Glad to see you were able to keep your secret identity secret....
....in a way, however, I am kind of sad you were too ;P
With nearly nude pictures of you all over your blog, I assume you are neither surprised nor offended that the reporter's primary interest was physical -- although if he bothered to read the articles on your blog, his questions would be more substantial and intellectual.
Jeez, do you really think those are pics of a 37 yr old woman? I'm a little skeptical...(no offense Strumpette). It seems that someone set on staying anonymous is probably not going to post actual pictures of herself, esp her face!
This is quite complex.
On the one hand you have a compulsively readable blog and I love the picture of you in black knickers.
Some PR companies do very silly, and sometimes morally reprehensible things.
Some journalists do very silly, and sometimes morally reprehensible things.
There is a symbiotic relationship between the two.
The daily news simply would not be published, or it would be very, very slim, if it were not for PRs.
Journalists are fed false leads by some PRs and stay in a state of rage abouty it.
Some PRs are incompetent, So are some journalists.
Howard Kurtz was merely doing his job.
Strumpette is a good yarn. Finding out who Strumpette is, would be a better yarn.
If you can get a picture and she is not uncomely you have it made.
That is what Howard Kurtz is paid for. I thought he handled it with some style and dignity.
As it happens, I know you are Alfreda Plumm who use to work for Mike Morley at Edelman and had an affair with a downtable sub on the San Antontio newspaper who was an Australian called Arnold and that, according to him, you bang like a dunny door in a gale.
Eventually I shall publish this. I think the world deserves to know.
You are too harsh on Howard Kurtz. Deep down he loves you.