Posted by Mark Rose
Fascinating week in the PR blog world, capped for me by the Communitelligence PR Online Convergence in Los Angeles. Three days of immersion in blogs, podcasts, virtual reality, social media, SEO, RSS, and other acronym-laden digitas left me wanting to totally unplug and deeply converse with a cedar tree, which I am now doing. Oh, the wisdom and peace of nothingness.
This business of PR can be numbing. You sit in new business pitches and they go something like this: blah, blah, blah, I want to be on the cover of BusinessWeek, blah blah blah, I want to be in the Wall Street Journal, blah blah blah, get me on the Today Show. I long for the day when media relations as we know it can be eliminated from the equation and account execs and MSM can sigh relief.
That’s why I am so fascinated with PR online convergence. It makes the business fun, adventurous, and egads, an intellectual exercise. There is much to figure out, the landscape is constantly shifting, there is no single answer, and we have to become real communicators, not simply glorified (or undignified) publicists.
We got to access some great talent at the conference – Katie Paine, Phil Gomes, Linda Zimmer, and others – and we were treated to a new breed of entrepreneurial entertainment in the form of Jason Calacanis, whose new passion is, appropriately, Texas Hold ‘Em.
Of course none of this can hold together without a deft ringmaster. Conference chair Steve Schwartzman, founder and chair of iPressroom Corp., was able to meld all this info together by relying on two anchors: show, don’t tell; and make the business case. In order to implement new media PR strategies we usually have to convince a skeptical gatekeeper who holds budget approval. What’s the bottom line in all this online PR stuff. Show me how it works. How do you measure it?
Curiously, I did not detect one attendee from a major PR firm at the conference. It will be very interesting to see how far we advance by next year’s conference.
Quick scan around the hood: Steve Rubel offers a week of interesting posts, including video of Robert Scoble scanning his RSS feeds and deciding what news to pay attention to. The video is obviously done with a cheap handheld with no editing. Half the time you see half of Scoble’s head but it is engaging and intimate. If there is one criticism of I have of PR Online Convergence it is that only the high end solution was explored and discussed when actually there are very cheap ways to create audio and video news.
Strumpette reports that 5WPR has staffing problems. How shocking. I never understood the fascination with Ronn “I’m-growing-as-fast-as-I-can” Torossian and his go-go at any cost strategy. Why would a prospective client be enamored with an agency impressed with its own stratospheric growth when that usually means: poor service, high turnover, over reliance on publicity, a setup to a fall. You can only be “fastest growing” for so long, especially when you’ll take anything to get you there. Whenever I see Girls Gone Wild I think 5WPR. That’s great branding if you want to make a name for yourself in the porn industry.
Mark Rose is editor of PRBlogNews - a web publication focusing on public relations practices in the digital age.
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I am imagining D. S. Simon doing a VNR ad on the Center for Media and Democracy. :)
Seriously, I love conferences as much as anyone. And absolutely, the PR business can't seem to get enough of those about social media. But there's a problem.
As liberating as it feels to tear down the wall between advertising and editorial... as exciting as it is to avoid any media quality control... as professionally exhilarating it is to circumvent any filter we as a society have set up in the public interest... PR's headlong leap into SM is problematic. This week, we're doing a story on the MWW Group and what appears to be a blogger payola program on behalf of Nikon. It's not good. Mark my words, you are absolutely going to see the FTC regulate this stuff just as it is now going after VNRs.
True. Then Strumpette might have to reveal sources and true authorship or get shut down.
No. To satisfy "surreptitious selling," one necessarily needs to be selling something. I'm not.
Trying to understand the surreptitious selling thing.
Is it 'surreptitious selling' to offer information directly to the public if we fully disclose the source?
Haven't we seen countless instances when the MSM, from NYTimes to USA Today, has been less than stellar - downright dishonest - in its practices? Why are they the gatekeepers? Thomas Paine went directly to the people and sparked a revolution.
Haven't we seen the blogosphere rise up again and again to 'out' shady blog practices.
Aren't we increasingly seeing citizens driving news that MSM is following? In fact, most MSM have set up ways to capture citizen news to integrate with their own.
* Transparency and authenticity were huge buzz words at the conference I went to, and you hear them all the time. You don't hear deceive and hide. At least this is the direction credible PR people want to go.
Is it better to continue the current practice of bombarding MSM with 'news' of marginal interest or find ways to present information directly to constituents and allow MSM to pick it up if they feel it's worthy?
Don't know what MWW is accused of, yet, and I wouldn't be surprised if some are employing the vile pay-per-post industry. But every system has abuses. So far, as far as I can see, we have been pretty good at ferreting out the bad stuff.
1. "Is it 'surreptitious selling' to offer information directly to the public if we fully disclose the source?"
Possibly. Again, the objective of the intercourse is to influence so as to optimize a position in a transaction. The media and 3rd party dealings acted as a vetting mechanism. Was that perfect, no. Have we thrown the baby out with the bathwater, yes.
2. "Haven't we seen countless instances when the MSM, from NYTimes to USA Today, has been less than stellar - downright dishonest - in its practices? Why are they the gatekeepers?"
I am all for opening the gates for quality information. But that is NOT what PR is all about. We manufacture credible bias as advocates.
3. "Haven't we seen the blogosphere rise up again and again to 'out' shady blog practices."
Sure. And ultimately that's why PR is being relegated to spam in Web 2.0 circles.
4. "Aren't we increasingly seeing citizens driving news that MSM is following? In fact, most MSM have set up ways to capture citizen news to integrate with their own."
Again, different issue. If I were in MSM, I'd love to have a million plus free stringers. Then all I would need to focus on is fact checkers and editors.
5. "Transparency and authenticity were huge buzz words at the conference I went to, and you hear them all the time. You don't hear deceive and hide. At least this is the direction credible PR people want to go."
Frankly, it is naïve to think that transparency and authenticity is just a given as good. Our job is to craft the voice of a human representation of a legal fiction, the corporation. Those in our business that say otherwise won't be in our business for long.
6. "Is it better to continue the current practice of bombarding MSM with 'news' of marginal interest or find ways to present information directly to constituents and allow MSM to pick it up if they feel it's worthy?"
We don't provide information to constituents, per se. We provide manipulated information in the interest of advocacy. Regrettably, even our own business misunderstands the distinction. How can we possibly expect the audience we are directly manipulating to discern? By definition, that's fraud.
I wanted to post a response to see #188.8.131.52.1.1 and to say that I am beginning to see your point but there is a credible, verifiable role for SM/New Media in PR. Need to gather my thoughts. Thanks.
I absolutely think there's a role for PR in SM. But in the end I think it is going to look a whole lot more like the Crisis Communications Practice than the Consumer Marketing Practice.