Bashing the bunny

One of the benefits of starting to knock on in years, is that you appreciate what goes around comes around and history does repeat itself.  That said, you only need to hang around on the internets for about six months to see the Suicide same memes repeating themselves.  The one currently-doing the rounds, is that PR is dead/unnecessary/useless/pointless/mainly full of imbecilic idiots that would be better off returning to their true vocation of asking “do you want fries with that?”

The cycle for this meme seems to be getting shorter and this time round everyone has weighed in with an opinion, from Michael Arrington, Scoble and even Steven Rubel, who works for a global PR firm, questioned if bloggers and journalists want PR help anymore and is PR becoming obsolete?

I’m not about to leap to the defence of PR here, there is no doubt that there are a lot of people out there who are not as good at their jobs as they should be.  This was true before the advent of social media and will continue to be true after social media gets assumed into the mainstream consciousness and it just becomes media. What makes me frustrated is that a lot of the complaints echo what we’ve heard from mainstream journalists over the years.  Take a look at the list provided by Scoble on what bloggers want and tell me how it is that different to what technology journalists want.

1. What we really want is an exclusive interview with Steve Jobs.

2. I want to see some passion about building a great service for customers that solves their pain.

3. If you really have a killer product and a killer service I don’t care how you get a hold of me.

4. Don’t call us (especially me) if you want to get on TechMeme and that’s your main goal.

5. For those of us who are on the TechMeme game we MUST be in the first group.

6. Don’t just pitch the product.

7. Video bloggers need different things than text bloggers.

8. Why don’t you get a ton of FriendFeed’ers to vote up your own blog?

9. Build experiences where we can get to know you.

Robert Scoble, What do the freaking tech bloggers want?

Ok so the techmeme and friendfeed points seem different but really they’re not.  If you want to get a client into the mainstream press you usually start on by building its presence in the trade/regional press and if you want to get into some publications then the best way in is a juicy exclusive, just like techmeme.

I know that the PR profession has become sloppy because when you upset a print or broadcast journalist, they worst they could do is swear at you or complain to your boss.  The former wasn’t that frequent and the latter hardly happened either.  Now of course irate bloggers get to name and shame.  Which is great, they get to vent their frustration and it ensures that the PR in question will do a better job next time.

Oh right it doesn’t.

Which is why I’m not a fan of the new PR Fail and PR Win blogs which take del.icio.us and twitter #tags to track the relative success of pr activity in the online world.  I guess they can be used over time to see if the situation has improved or not, but they’re not actually helping to make a difference, so really what’s the point?

0 thoughts on “Bashing the bunny

  1. Who on earth appointed TechMeme and FriendFeed as the most important places that tech companies need to get traction on? Oh right yeah, Scoble. To 99.999999999% of people online those places do not matter one jott. The number of decimal places with nines gets much longer for the general population.

    TechMeme and FriendFeed don’t create news anyway, they’re just measurements of bandwagoning. Look how many articles are either terrible lame bits of news or actually commentary on news that’s already been in the press.

    Good products communicated well to journos or bloggers or the public is what’s important. Everything else is mess.

  2. I’m not being funny but along with poor sell-ins, isn’t there something else that’s been taken from old to ‘new’ PR?

    I’m talking about the tried and tested filter that usually separates out good from bad practice – the ability to get coverage.

    Which should be enough. Do we really need endless lectures about ‘bad’ PR, complaints about full inboxes etc etc.

    I mean, are bloggers the only ones to suffer from unwanted approaches?

    I know I get a lot every day from recruitment agents, designers, sales promo people, cleaners, accountants and so on. With my evening normally ending when a charity guy with a clipboard hassles me in Greenwich on the way home.

    Do I kick up a fuss? No, it’s an annoyance but I have more important things to do with my day than worry about it. And most journalists are the same. They wish they didn’t have to deal with it, but they have work to do.

    As you say, now bloggers can blast away online and name and shame. Once in a while I get the feeling that they do it simply because they can.

    I posted about this recently where fellow blogger I talked to compared some in the sector to car park attendants with fancy uniforms who get ahead of themselves (http://www.thisisherd.com/2008/07/do-you-know-who-i-am.html)

    So like you I’m not sure of PR ranking or bad practice sites. I am definitely against the PR spam lists that are in existence as I would like to know who decides who gets on them and who doesn’t (ie, who plays god). But what gets me the most is the naming of individuals, which I have seen more or more.

    At worst, it’s actually an abuse of power and means some hapless exec’s run in with an angry blogger can be seen by an employer doing a search for years and years to come.

  3. @damien – Zactly! Part of the problem PR has at the moment is that everyone seems to have a very singular views on what it is, what it should do and how it should do be doing it and not really considering what the wider world cares about.

    Love your summary will probably nick it for future training sessions – with full credit given of course.

  4. @kerrymcg How about you don’t give me attribution and then we create a fake tantrum when I do find out and explode it all over the interblogs and we both get massive attention from PR Fail and DIGG as a result?

    No, yes, that’s what I thought.

  5. @dirk There are many bad practices that have been pulled across from old to new pr, and it’s not a bad thing that they are being exposed. Although I agree that perhaps some bloggers do have a slightly self-inflated sense of self.

    What I do wish is that we can use the exposure to help the PR industry improve and do the job it should’ve been doing all along.

  6. @damien – dunno, that actually sounds like a most amusing idea. Well that or I’ve od’d on peanut butter m&ms and it’s the sugar rush is causing the giggling fit and not your tantrum threat.

  7. I’m so bored of this conversation, in paticular the bleating of bloggers. I agree, PR some people have a lot to learn about social media – and pitching in general. But when I flick through a trade magazine, national newspaper or supposedly authoritative blog I frequently see poorly researched, speculative and misinformed articles and posts. Fair enough the jounalists are under pressure to deliver editorial to often tight deadlines, but bloggers have no excuse most of the time – the vast majority of them just whiny on about their own opinion with the odd sycophantic nod to their blogger mates. This whole “PR Fail” nonsense is a joke, nothing more than a ridiculous love-in by individuals wrapped in their own supposed self-importance.

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