Well, every so often, a story comes along that really strikes a nerve here. Some things strum the “Strumpette” brand like she was meant to be. See, like PR, a strumpet manipulates peoples’ beliefs and emotions... and for a couple bucks more, we’ll dance this Thursday’s Rotary Club luncheon at the Dangle Lounge. For the right amount of money, we can do tricks with our tongues that would have you... well... gladly trade your eternal soul for a minute more of unadulterated sweet nothings. Don’t stop... PLEEEEEZE DON’T STOP! Now that’s PR.
A little too ethereal for ya? I understand. Here: I once worked for a total empty suit, leisure no less. But truth be known, Pete was an unbelievable publicist, a genuine media wizard. The guy could place a story about your grandma’s corn in the Wall Street Journal, no lie. How did he do it? Well, he had amassed a personal rolodex too heavy to carry for one. But most importantly, he had built up "relationships". He was always doing favors: impossible dinner reservations? Go to Pete; tickets to sold-out sporting events and concerts? Go to Pete; the occasional trinket for a wife or gumar? You could count on Pete. He was a man of seemingly infinite connections and resources whose total discretion was absolute. Frankly, it was a harmless arrangement, B-to-B greasing the skids some, is all. Excuse me but that's how business works. Right?
Well, that's what we all thought ‘til Pete got busted for giving expensive cameras to a few key reporters. Then Pete’s glorious ride abruptly ended. As a result of the perception of impropriety, most/all of his client’s key trade pubs labeled him persona non grata. In short order, he was washed up and swept out. Sad really. Some would say that he was just being nice and that the media with its patrician views totally overreacted. It was only a little payola, so what?!
Silly. Our adherences to standards like this are down right anti business. Bribes in 3rd-World countries are standard practice. Hello! It's no big deal.
Well fortunately, the Internet is still pristine and uncorrupted by anti business bias or government intervention. Sure, the Microsoft/Edelman laptop giveaway was a total disaster. But that’s really due to mismanagement and a misunderstanding of Internet culture. Thank God for PR agencies like the MWW Group and their ability to maneuver unencumbered by these wrongheaded ethical prejudgments.
Okay, first off, I've only been talking about this for a couple years now. PRs are notorious herders. We love the social seen 'cause that's where all the communications action is. So how come none of the biggies -- O’Dwyer’s, PRWeek, Bulldog, PR News – none have really put it all together? I’m totally at a loss.
Hate to be an I-told-you-so but... I was soooo on the money about demand. They’re exploding. In less than two weeks since the launch, they already have well over 3,000 members. It’s THE new HOT SPOT in PR. If you’re in, you’re in. Apparently, it’s THE place to see and be seen.
According to Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications: “It’s all been done with very little promotion actually. We had purposefully planned for a soft launch to ensure all systems were go. But word of mouth spread like fire. We’re just in awe how this thing has mushroomed globally."
Well, word is that none of this is surprising to the younger members of Ragan's staff. Kevin Allen, one of Ragan's young reporters, quipped with a smile: “Look, if you grew up on MySpace and Match.com, then you know that much of the allure of these social networking sites is checking out the babes and hunks. Excuse me but, there's a LOT of attractive people in the PR Business!"
Sure sounds like fun. But some industry observers remain a little skeptical. Can Ragan sustain that momentum once this initial sex appeal wears off? One Canadian blogger, Ron Shewchuk warned that early success may not mean anything if people don't have any reason to come back.
Ragan understood that at the outset and planned for exactly that online eventuality. “That pure sex appeal phenomenon of social sites is another reason we wanted a soft launch. I have no interest in being a flash in the pan. We know that in order to maintain the cohesiveness of the site, we need to deliver the goods. At the end of the day, you’ve got to offer value.”
Indeed, he does. The new social networking site also offers news roundups, free downloadable toolkits, executive reports and an information exchange for members to swap tips, resources and strategies.
WAIT... THERE’S MORE! Ragan’s put his longtime senior editor David Murray in charge of content. Murray has an industry reputation for editorial integrity. Unlike other web free-for-alls, Ragan plans variety as well as high editorial standards.
Ragan said: "With Dave at the helm you can be sure there’ll be all the food groups -- controversy, humor, debates, contests. We’re going to offer the business a smorgasbord of content to keep people wanting more. More importantly, we’re going to offer a plethora of things that will help members grow professionally.”
With all that a given... the rest of their growth plan is pretty organic. They’ve already seen evidence of it unfolding. Without any intervention from the Ragan staff, some three dozen interest groups have sprung up on the inside pages, including Fashion PR, Hollywood PR, Crisis Communications and Intranet Development. Equally surprising was the instant creation of a global community.
"We have people pouring in from South Africa, India, Europe, Canada and Australia. Last week we started seeing members come in from China." says Ragan. “As a networking platform for the industry, it’s really unbelievable.”
Fantastic! Again, I hate to say "I told you so" but...
Anyway, all good. Big props to Mark and his team.
If you haven't yet already, I do encourage you to check it out. If you happen to bump into Mark, tell ‘em Amanda sent ya.
DISCLAIMER: In the next day or so, you're going to see an ad here for MyRagan.com. Note: it's not a paid spot. We are just thrilled to support what they're doing.
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 [...]