Posted by Mark Rose
Let’s suppose that for one perverse week, there was no life outside of Strumpette.
Amanda Chapel is on a tear. Injustice has been committed and it involves Richard Edelman. It seems that the CEO who is running PR’s Web 2.0 revolution rushed to judgment in a blog post about the Duke lacrosse team and Amanda wants him to break down and visit the PR confessional. “At least Nifong apologized. What about our PR leader? How much you want to bet we do not hear a word?” We hear not a word. On this day Strumpette is about courage and conviction, ruthless accountability, qualities you do not usually associate with public relations. Maybe that’s why this blog stands out.
Amanda Chapel is on a tear. Injustice has been committed and it involves Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR. It has been 100 days since Torossian threatened to sue Strumpette, who has been relentlessly hounding him about taking “Girls Gone Wild” as a client. Chapel calls Torossian on his cell and asks for comment (talk about cajones). “He was quite emphatic about personally helping my dear old mother increase the size of my family. He repeated it several times. What a nice guy," writes Chapel about the conversation. In another post this day it is reconfirmed that Weber Shandwick CEO Harris Diamond is a clown and PR Weak is a toady trade pub. Where else can the head of a PR firm make this kind of news? When was our business close to being this interesting?
Today’s post throws you. It includes photos from Africa by “one of the Amanda(s).” You cannot confirm that there is actually is a single Amanda and now there are supposed to be several. We are operating on different levels here, involving mischief, myth, and art, subjects of the book “Trickster Makes This World” by Lewis Hyde. Could that book be the Strumpette Bible? I am only on page 72 but there are clues there to the mix of revolutionary vigor, practical advice, and playfulness we see on Strumpette. Could the prismatic reality of public relations actually have a basis in historical theory?
Today Strumpette breaks new ground with a “Breaking News” report on a PR murder mystery that may involve art imitating life, or the other way around. Is it true that PR now has a “seat at the table” in the “C-suite” because we are important enough to have our own murder mystery sub-genre?
Uncle Phil issues his latest gospel about PR basics. Stop, listen, learn. He is a consumer and he is pissed at eBay and he is letting us know that anybody with half a brain, a blog, and some time can damage a company. Some things bear repeating.
Amanda posts a short, entertaining video that highlights the similarities between crisis communications and bullfighting. The video features some really fun music. Fun, fun, fun with the new wave of Strumpette videos. Today Strumpette is about blending visuals, audio and text for a blog that stands out for its innate, subdued artistry.
Lessons in crisis communications from Eric Starkman. It’s Saturday, in the summertime, and I am reading about the business. This could qualify as an addiction.
“If you don’t come in on Sunday, don’t bother to come in Monday,” the mythical boss screams. Should be a rollicking good week. Murdoch is displeased with the Bancrofts (told you so), Paris gets sprung from jail (we’re breathless) and tells all (or some) to Larry King, the Fed may hint at raising or lowering rates, or do nothing, we will see dangerous lawlessness escalate in Iraq, Iran, Gaza and elsewhere, and who knows what we’ll find on Strumpette.
Mark Rose is founder and CEO of RosePR/new media, offering best-of-breed digital communications strategies and resources. He is also editor of PRBlogNews , a web publication focusing on public relations practices in the digital age.
Posted by Mark Rose
Am I Dead Yet?
It is a testimony to great drama that a full week after Tony Soprano was killed/not killed the reverberation from the final episode of “The Sopranos” still is: What the hell was that? Blogging conspiracy theorists connected infinite plot devices proving that it all went blank at the end because we were seeing from Tony’s point of view and he was dead. That’s how it is at the end, isn’t it? No drama, blankness, no action. “The Audience Got Whacked,” said the NY tab headline Monday morning, meaning we wuz robbed of a ‘real’ ending. True but not the way they thought. As James Gandolfini was quoted on the front page of The New York Daily News: “Hey, I don’t know if I’m dead.” And isn’t that the most brilliant ending – one we can’t agree on, we still debate, analyze. What next for the Soprano gang? We have it on uninformed sources that Christopher will be helping psychic Jennifer Love Hewitt solve crimes on "The Fuckin' Ghost Whisperah."
Bad Blog Tutorial for CEOs
Michael Kempner, CEO of mid-size PR firm MWW Group, has apparently unveiled a blog meant as a tutorial on why a CEO should not blog. Every two weeks or so Kempner posts a missive that screams “Don’t do this.” Recently, Kempner launched an impassioned defense of his firm’s blogola campaign and then followed it by announcing that he is now a co-chair of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in New Jersey. We are still how many months from the election? How many other Democratic Party candidates are there? Some MWW clients might actually be Republicans. Is there any better way to assure that potential clients pre-judge you, and existing clients and colleagues buttonhole you, than to forcefully, publicly endorse a candidate? Are MWW employees now free to post their political preferences on company blogs, or is that the exclusive right of the CEO? Doesn’t Weber Shandwick, MWW Group’s parent, have a blogging policy about this? Many questions, no answers.
Shut Up and Eat
“Many of the anonymous authors who vent on blogs rant their snarky vituperatives from behind the smoky curtain of the web. This allows them a peculiar and nasty vocabulary that seems to be taken as truth by virtue of the fact that it has been printed somewhere. Unfortunately, this also allows untruths, lies and malicious and personally driven dreck to be quoted as fact.”
So says the corpulent, trouser-challenged, obsessively self-promoting celeb chef Mario Batali as a guest author on, where else, a blog called Eater, in a post called, what else, “Why I Hate Food Bloggers.” Mario got his linguine all tied up because of his simmering beef with that “hapless NY Post real estate/food hack Braden Keil who has hated me for as long as I can remember, not that he has any value to journalism anyway.” Nothing personal, right Mario?
“But, in the end, I do not hate the blogger. I just expect, and want, more from many of them,” writes the wise chef. Sorry to disappoint, but what is it we should expect from our celebrity chefs? Like, what’s for dinner, and how can I make this at home? There are many comments posted to Mario’s rant but I subscribe most to this one: # 54. “You don't see Thomas Keller or even Bobby Flay or even Rachel Ray(!)for that matter talking crap about bloggers. He used to be cool. Now's he’s just a bitter, grumpy old man.”
Wolf in Hen House
The Bancrofts and Murdochs continue to circle each other for the esteemed prize of ownership and control of Dow Jones, including The Wall Street Journal. When we last visited this subject a meeting was imminent. It seems like the Aussie suitor wowed the Bancrofts enough that negotiation has continued in earnest. The big issue is editorial control and transparency, something Murdoch has finagled to his advantage his entire career as a voracious gobbler of media properties. Murdoch has salivated over the gem of Dow Jones for decades and he wasn’t going to play coy. His strategy of laying out a very generous initial bid worked. The issue of money has been eliminated with a nice chunk of change in the middle of the table, $5 billion. The market is expecting the deal to happen, and the pressure seems to be on the Bancrofts to make it work. Murdoch pressured them to the table through his well-honed PR skills and the power of the media … his media. Fox TV interviewing Murdoch about his bid for Dow Jones was a riot. Tell us why you made such a generous offer for Dow Jones? - asked a puppydog-like Neil Cavuto, obviously in a tricky position. It was like Murdoch interviewing himself, scripted by Howard Rubenstein, his long time PR guy. I would like to see this deal happen and I would like to see Murdoch re-vamp the Journal and the other Dow properties. Murdoch has proven his New Media savvy with acquisitions of MySpace and Photobucket. He can spark the Dow Jones leap into the future. I would also like to see the Bancroft family fight like hell to set up any safeguards possible to keep Murdoch from meddling in editorial. In the end, that’s not possible. It will be the Murdoch kids they will have to deal with. Pearson PLC, publisher of Financial Times, is reported to be considering a bid for Dow Jones, as well. Reuters has received a takeover bid, probably from Thomson. Big media is in play. As usual, Rupert Murdoch is in the middle of it.
Mark Rose is founder and CEO of RosePR/new media, offering best-of-breed digital communications strategies and resources. He is also editor of PRBlogNews, a web publication focusing on public relations practices in the digital age.
Posted by Mark Rose
Blogola reared its grinning ugly face in a big way last week and I am still pissed off about Michael Kempner’s barnyard defense of his firm’s blogola campaign. I speak as a blogger on this issue. I am offended by Kempner’s stance. All bloggers should be. Blogola disrespects bloggers and solidifies public perception that we are easily bought, third-tier amateur hacks. As long as Kempner and his ilk are allowed to get away with cheap blog payoffs, that perception is reality.
Kempner is CEO of MWW, a mid-size PR firm (they don’t release billings to O’Dwyer’s). On his blog he defends his firm’s program to give 50 bloggers Nikon D80 cameras for 6 – 12 months, with the right to purchase at a discount at the end. This is standard practice at major media, said Kempner (wrong), and it showed that they treated bloggers as journalists (really, really wrong). Critics of the program are jealous, self-serving and personally destructive, said Kempner. For background see Strumpette Kempner Puts Blog Program In Spin Cycle, and PRBlogNews Kempner Swallows Blogola Whole …
You wonder how the head of a mid-size PR agency can be so clueless about media relations and blogger relations but there it is. “Staff members who borrow equipment, vehicles or other goods for evaluation or review must return the borrowed items as soon as possible,” says the ethic guidelines of The New York Times. Those of us who deal with mainstream media know how sensitive they are to even the appearance of a gift that might sway their judgment.
“Here, take this $1,000 camera for a year and then you can keep it for $100” – try that line on David Pogue at The New York Times and see if he ever talks to you again.
That leaves Kempner and crew to troll for willing victims in the bottom rungs of blogdom. They did a great job of finding 50 who were just ga-ga over getting this wonderful camera to play with for a year. “I was a little surprised to be picked for this - I actually thought it was spam at first,” posted Joe Moraca on his Sarasota Livin’ blog, about receiving his $1,000 camera in the mail. B.L. Ochman was so thrilled about getting her camera that she did an interview with her benefactors, the team at MWW managing the blogola program.
Joe Jaffee, president of ‘new marketing’ company crayon, in his Thank you Nikon post was similarly exultant and disbelieving that he had been chosen for this great honor. Do we need any more proof that bloggers crave validation from established power and are willing whores for expensive swag? Do we have to look further to see why bloggers are dismissed by mainstream media and the general public as questionable sources of news or opinion?
Kempner was right when he said that his blogola program was: “Simple. Clear. Clean. So clean in fact that 46 of the 50 bloggers we invited to participate immediately accepted. Of the remaining four, two haven’t had a chance to decide yet and two declined as they were engaged by other PR firms and felt it would be a conflict.”
Easy pickins’, those bloggers. What should bloggers ensnared in the MWW blogola trap do? Have a personal set of ethical guidelines and be vigilant against PR payola. Check the camera out, record your opinions on your blogs, return the camera to MWW within 30 days (or a reasonable period). Don’t accept the MWW poison gift. Don’t let Michael Kempner and crew disrespect you, and the rest of us, with blogola. Don’t be blinded by the swag. Not all of us are jealous. Some of us think this whole thing is pretty pathetic.
Blogging about this by Nikon D80 blogola recipients has been sparse and defensive. The program is tainted and demeans bloggers and the product. Maybe if MWW is delivered that message through returned cameras we will see a little more understanding in Michael Kempner’s public communication about influencing bloggers.
Mark Rose is editor of PRBlogNews - a web publication focusing on public relations practices in the digital age.
Posted by Mark Rose
“Dow Dumps As Naked Arbs Run Wild,” might be the headline. Or “Inflation Tamed in Wild Whipping Session.” Who knows what headlines Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal will unleash upon the world but we can sure they will be suggestive, humorous, and more interesting than what we have now. This week the Bancroft family, majority owners of Dow Jones, the Journal’s parent company, agreed to meet with Rupert Murdoch about possible sale of the esteemed, well protected media property. They are scheduled to meet tomorrow, with Murdoch bearing a $5 billion offer for Dow Jones.
The Journal has always been a strange beast. The editorial pages flaunt a conservative agenda that makes Karl Rove look meek, while the reporting staff is generally young and liberal. It’s as if one side shrugs at the other apologetically and they try to get along. I love the Journal editorial pages because they afford extensive coverage to well-thought conservative opinion. Some of it is didactic ideology, some of it too dense to penetrate, some of it brilliantly researched and presented. The Journal was a major contributor to the rising tide of conservative Republicans seizing the intellectual high-road from Democrats, and it would seem that Rupert Murdoch being Rupert Murdoch would not want to mess with that.
The news and advice sections, the great majority of the paper, might be another story. Personally, I’m bored with the Journal. The recent re-design of the paper turned it into a Tip Sheet for the web site. The Weekend Journal doesn’t do anything for me. The Journal is a must-read during the week. Come the weekend I would rather read about Britney in the tabs and watch the Yankees lose another game (although Joe Morgenstern, 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner for criticism, does the best movie reviews on the planet).
The paper needs focus and some juice. I think merging the Journal with Murdoch’s New York Post would yield the best business daily imaginable. Possible news subjects, in any variation, are limitless: business, sex, scandal, jail, trial, sex, business, economy, pummel Clintons, sex, murder, bad accidents, yielding the real story - blessed profits trickling up to the next gen Murdoch’s taking over the great brand that Murdoch could only buy, not build.
The six next gen Murdoch’s, who are not wanting for play money (they were each recently granted $100 million in company stock for ‘personal use’), might integrate with another Murdoch property, MySpace, for a viral video MySpaceJournal raw hedge fund/naked arb/double dealing derivative virtual mashup, delivered through Murdoch’s Sky Media, integrated with the new Murdoch acquisition of Photobucket, filtered through the new Fox Business TV channel. Maybe it takes Murdoch to bring out the sex appeal and drama in the pursuit of money, and to bring it to your cell phone. Think about it. All Murdoch all the time. The family may soon have the ability to control all the information on the planet. Hallelujah.
The Wall Street Journal is the second largest circulation paper in the U.S., behind USA Today. The Journal, USA Today, and, arguably, The New York Times are the top national newspapers in the U.S. USA Today is available in almost every hotel in the U.S. The New York Times is available in every Starbuck’s. Money, and the pursuit of it, transcends geographic, demographic, and professional boundaries. It is the great equivocator. The Journal – the daily diary of the American dream – is sold everywhere, even in poor neighborhoods. The Journal online is one of the great successes in online media and has provided enough value since its early days to charge for content.
The Journal is increasingly being fed content from other Dow Jones properties, such as MarketWatch, a popular retail finance web site, and the Dow Jones newswires. Barron’s, a quirky Dow Jones weekly that is comprised of a handful of columnists and a lot of market and stock data, will always have a devoted 300,000 circulation following that can’t get enough Wall Street in five days. Dow Jones is an incredible media property and would hand Murdoch a legacy burnishing crown jewel, a halo of respectability he does not currently enjoy despite his fantastic wealth.
It will be very interesting to see how the drama plays out this week as the Murdoch’s and Bancroft’s (the Montagues and Capulets?) seek harmony among their families, and seek a deal in which everyone walks away a winner, with a stellar media property that is driven to rise to its greatest potential. Fat chance. It will get nasty. But it will make nice story material in the Journal and on Fox TV and in rival media outlets. And it could presage an assault on another esteemed, well-protected family-run newspaper property, The New York Times.
Mark Rose is editor of PRBlogNews - a web publication focusing on public relations practices in the digital age.
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