Well, as you know, this week started off perhaps a little TOO. Important issues yes, but back to back, God! I imagine we’ve caused a few intellectual hernias. I mean, this is PR!
As such, we thought we’d take a moment and offer something of a lighter fare. Here’s a nice sorbet to refresh the palate in between courses. Here we want to take a moment to present a little homage to our many suitors. This is dedicated to all of you who’ve expressed interest in getting to know us. Special thanks to Spanky and Our Gang and Eggman for the inspiration. Enjoy.
Arrivederci amore, ciao.
PS Tomorrow we're back to work. Be sure to check back for a compelling byline from our friend Roberto Zangrandi, Head Corporate Social Responsibility for Enel, one of Europe’s leading energy companies. Roberto discusses how Enel is using web tools to facilitate "one-with-one" constituent dialogue. It is not one to miss.
How social media can make your CEO look like a Clown
Poor Harris Diamond. Tough to be a CEO these days especially in the communications business... especially for a mega firm like Weber Shandwick. Today, as a consequence of the ubiquitous and accessible Web, some of the very things you profess -- and subsequently sell -- can often be in conflict with the unified face your clients hire and trust. In reality, there is no unified face today and that makes it tough not to come off looking like a clown.
As to Harris, the phrase, “got his tit a wringer” comes to mind. In light of Race for the Cure below, scratch that. Maybe “got his balls in a vice” (defined as “when a man is under extreme stress or pressure, usually from a female, due to a mistake”); that says a lot. Might be a tad graphic though. We could just go totally bland and use the word “checkmate;” as in when the King is threatened but cannot move. “Fucked and stuck;” that works. Ah... how ‘bout “Catch-22,” the no-win double binds found in bureaucratic operation and reasoning. Well, you know what I’m getting’ at.
Here’s how it all played out. Minor Web celeb Jeremy Pepper, a Group Manager at Weber Shandwick, is buddies with Tom Biro, Senior Director at MWW (also an Interpublic Group company). Biro is presently spearheading MWW’s blogola scam on behalf of its client Nikon. Their blogola program is pretty simple: select various otherwise influential and prolific bloggers (similar to a payola campaign with mainstream media); and then bribe them with a $1,200 camera. Smarmy? You bet. Look at the degree to which MWW has gone to whitewash this thing. It’s gotten so bad that the firm’s CEO Kempner is now out there publicly trying to rationalize it (see Kempner Puts Nikon Blogola Program in Spin Cycle).
Bottom line: it quacks like a duck. It’s a bribe whose motivation is purely quid pro quo. Here’s the deal: would Pepper’s boss Bonin Bough have taken the camera? Not a chance. In his words 6/4, “When products are clearly gifts intended to influence one of our blogging team, they are refused and returned.” Furthermore, would Bonin’s boss Harris Diamond have taken the loot? Not a chance in hell! Why? Simple: the perception of impropriety. Excuse me but Weber Shandwick is in the very business of reputation management and promotion. However tempting, $1,200 just ain't worth the risk let alone the potential negative exposure. Period.
And there lies the problem. See... clients hire individuals as they are part of a unified brand. Clients hire Harris or Bonin because of the “incorporated” reputation of the firm and because they deliver a coordinated team. How important is that? It’s critical. In fact, in order to promote and maintain a unified face... companies create policies. “This is how we march together,” so to speak. Or, let’s put it this way: if you’re off the reservation... you are OFF the reservation. You're fired. See, the actions of a loose canon reflect on the face of the organization as a whole, i.e. "one bad apple," so to speak. The problem today is organizations have gone from hierarchical to flat and distributed. In that environment, it is much harder to manage a unified face.
In light of that, the key question is this: what is Weber Shandwick’s policy regarding blogola? The key people to ask are Harris Diamond, the CEO and Bonin Bough, Executive Vice President and Director of Weber Shandwick’s global Social, Interactive and Emerging Media practice.
On Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 7:41 AM, Ronn Torossian, President and CEO of 5WPR, emphatically promised that he was going to sue us. No real reason, he was just irritated by our teasing him about getting in bed with pornographer Joe Francis. Anyway, Ronn gave his obscenity-laced word that we'd see the complaint in 72 hours. It's now late by
Kathleen Durazo about A Measly $2.8 Million Goes Missing, Lawsuit Results Fri, Jul 31, 10:58:34 AM Ray Durazo (the founder) sold the company to Dan in 1999. He was not involved in any of this. He (and I) found out about the lawsuit in the LA Times. In addition to embezzling this m [...]