Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Economist: Does Rise of Scoble Herald the Death of PR?

"Does Robert Scoble, a celebrity blogger on Microsoft's payroll, herald the death of traditional public relations?" breathlessly asks The Economist.

That's an easy question. The answer is an unequivocal "no." Blogging is simply the newest, shiniest tool in the PR toolbox.

The panting continues, "His example might mark the beginning of the end of “corporate communications” as we know it." But in the last three paragraphs, Scoble concedes that there will always be a place for traditional PR. "The truth is, nobody yet knows how corporate blogging will evolve," is the eventual conclusion of the article.


I'm beginning to think we need to create an anti-defamation league for the public relations industry that will jump into mob blog action every time the media resorts to stereotypes, lazy generalizations or--in the case of this Economist article--a sloppy, wet lead that is written to pull readers in, regardless of the actual truth laid out in the complete story.

The other night I was watching CSI or Law and Order, it's easy to forget which, and the show had a perky, blond, PR bunny mom who spouted lines like, "Look, I work in PR, I know how the world works!" She's so evil, you're supposed to think she's the killer. But guess what? It's the innocent kid who killed the drug dealer, not Evil Incarnate.

"You Know Times are Tough for PR When...

"The Cylon mole on Galactica is....the dweeby PR guy!" notes Elizabeth Albrycht, who says she is, "severly depressed that PR is now the popular icon for traitor/badguy."

If we jumped into action each and every time PR is associated with the sinister and the sleazy, then the purveyors of pop culture will move on to villainize easier targets.

How about those dentists?


Blog 9-11: Help! All the Aggregators Have Stopped Picking up my Feed!

UPDATE: Pardon the disruption. However, from this point further I'll be posting over on my new blog on Typepad.

For all new posts, please go to:


About three days ago I noticed that all the aggregators, every single one, had stopped picking up my RSS feed. I tinkered and dinked and tweaked around, but to no avail. I wondered if perhaps something at Ping-O-Matic had clunked out, so I experimented with individual pings to individual aggregators.

Nothing worked.

So tonight I sent a "help me, please!" email to Technorati, PubSub and Blogdigger. The first to respond was Greg Gershman from Blogdigger. He was very helpful and apologetic--even though the problem was all mine.

Greg found some noxious html in one post and that apparently was clogging the whole feed. He sent me to FeedValidator to find the problem. If you ever sense that your posts aren't connecting with your normal outlets, try this site or type in your RSS or ATOM address like so: YOUR RSS FEED ADDRESS HERE

Thanks, Greg! It wasn't his job to help me with my broken html and I really appreciate it. Somebody give Greg a raise.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Public Relations Licensing

Over at Shel Holtz's blog, a shel of my former self, the intrepid blogger, podcaster and king of all media debates my question of whether the public relations industry should police itself by creating a regulatory board.

Shel ponders the feasibility of a standard PR license:

"Any communication challenge can be approached a thousand different ways, and it takes just one creative thinker to come up with a thousand-and-first. What will work with an target audience in Los Angeles may not succeed with one in Mississippi. Culture plays a part. You just can’t test PR the way you can test accounting."

In a similar vein, Neville Hobson, the other intrepid blogger, podcaster and king of all media, posted this comment on my blog:

"The state bar idea is a very good one, clearly a workable concept in the US. How about the rest of the world, the 200+ countries with their own laws and business practices? For instance, I can see the fun trying to get this idea even discussed in the European Union.

"And don't forget that what's illegal or very bad ethical practice in one country isn't necessarily so in another."

Excellent points, gentlemen.

What if we created a baseline set of standards that are acceptable to each region? What say we adopted ten mutually agreed upon, inviolable rules? For example: No agency may pay a pundit, be that in cash, gifts or even the standard wine & dine. After setting these rules in stone, then any agency that violates these rules would be subject to censure and possible revocation of license.

Then, in turn, each region adopts a secondary coda that outlines its local standards.

Comments? Suggestions?


No. 2 in the series: Why I Love PR

UK Flack Accidently Tells UK Hacks to "Sod Off"

There's no such thing as a normal day in PR. And that is another reason I love working in public relations: work is never boring. Daily, minute-by-minute, the communcations challenges morph and multiply.

Take Alastair Campbell's situtation for example.

Sometimes just the simple act of hitting the send button can set off a sequence of events that will test your mettle in unimaginable ways.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

For the PR Industry: The Carrot, The Stick (and my father's recipe for beans)

I was listening yesterday to The Hobson and Holz Report and they were chatting up our humble movement to build blogging goodwill for the PR industry. While encouraging, they wondered what measurable change this can possibly accomplish.

I have a pet theory and it's related to my father's "Famous Beans." When my dad would invite family over for dinner, he'd welcome us all to come over because he was cooking up a pot of his "famous beans." Over the years, when speaking of his beans, he always referred to them as his "famous" beans.

Now we all refer to them as such and can hardly remember a time when they were not famous. I think if we keep tooting our own horns, beating our drums, keep chanting "I do believe in fairies! I believe in fairies!" then Tinkerbell will live and people will one day speak about public relations with reverence instead of disdain.

That's the carrot. Here comes the stick: I believe we need to create a public relations licensing authority.

Lawyers have such a body and you even need a license to be a masseuse and a cosmetologist. As Phil Gomes grumbles in a recent post, "For some reason, PR people turn into a terribly self-flagellating bunch every so often, maybe about once a year or so. Do litigators do this?"

Well, no. But it couldn't hurt them to examine their navels now and then.

However, I suspect that having a licensing body with real teeth can save us all from both scandals and periodic self-flagellation. (By the way, if you work with Phil Gomes, he really needs a hug. Crikey, do you really associate your work with the Stockholm syndrome?)

Here's a suggestion: Let's create a state bar for public relations professionals that has the power to censure its licensees. And if we give them the power to revoke licenses, then even agencies with $97 million federal contracts will stick to the straight and narrow.

Public relations


Monday, February 07, 2005

"Gross! PR is icky"

Number 347 in the series--Why PR Gets no Respect:

From Self Publishing | Blogs and Self Publishing

"Are blogs a form of self publishing? Absolutely! They are the epitome of self publishing! Why don't more writers write a blog?

"That's a very interesting question. From interviews with our members, the general consensus seems to be that most writers want to get paid for their writing. They don't want to be marketers or have to do scummy stuff like marketing, public relations or advertising!

"Yuk! Who does?"

Let the flame war begin....

Public relations


Let us now recommit to the creed that didn't work the first time

Judith Phair, CEO of PRSA, opines in this week's PR Week:

"Coverage of these high-profile scandals has overshadowed the work of thousands of PR pros who are committed to the ethical practice of PR - work that makes positive contributions to businesses, organizations, communities, and society. Indeed, the reputations of all of us who practice PR have been tarnished. Business decision makers and other opinion leaders might be influenced by this coverage, and the damage to the practice of PR may take years to undo. Repairing the reputation of our profession is a task that falls to all of us collectively and to each of us individually."

And here's the suggested fix:

"In the next several weeks, the PRSA will convene a summit meeting of leaders of the profession to recommit to the ethical practice of PR as outlined in the PRSA Code of Ethics. This gathering will examine the issues that have arisen and will come again as the environment in which we work changes."

Let me get this straight. We're recommitting to the Code that did nothing in the first place to prevent the current scandals. And these passively-voiced issues "that have arisen," will surely arise again.


Sayeth brother Robert French:

"Apologists we do not need. Defenders of good practice we do need....Due diligence of strong advocacy - in all public forums - must begin with vigor."

Here endeth the lesson.

Public relations