Seat of My Pants

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High tech/biotech PR guy...wait, where are you going??


They will always find a way

I was one of those calling for Edelman to outline what they were going to do to be sure it didn't happen again. Now that they have, I find myself questioning the merit of doing so. Below is a note I sent to our staff today. Am I being simplistic and naive?

"One of the topics discussed during this week’s social media training was the notion of credibility and transparency in a world where everyone can be a publisher. A recent example of how not to do it is the Edelman/Wal-Mart debacle. Earlier this week, Edelman apologized – a move that was met with a chorus of “Too little, too late! and “So, what are ya gonna do about it?” (For my thoughts on the matter read the first two posts here.) The firm today outlined its initial steps.

As more and more clients are calling on Matter to advise them on social media, it can feel like quite dangerous territory. Certainly, look at what Edelman did and learn from it. But, really, if you apply common sense and act as you would in any other medium – with integrity, honesty and openness – it shouldn’t be all that hard."


Credit where it's due

While there is still much to criticize (although not as much as some would have you think...) in the Edelman/Wal-Mart debacle, I do have to give credit to Richard Edelman for trying to take the right steps. I posted a comment to his blog yesterday basically saying that we needed more in the way of explanation of what Edelman is doing to ensure something like this doesn't happen again. He responded to that immediately with a somewhat vague answer (which was all I would have expected) and then I got the following e-mail follow up from him today:

"We are having our Me2Revolution gang (Rubel, Murray, Gomes etc) go on the road to all of our office to explain our standard for transparency.
We are making this a core part of Edelman University
We are going to have a central clearinghouse for social media programs
We will walk the talk!"
Credit to Richard for a) realizing that his initial answer wasn't sufficient and b) providing me a more satisfying one when he could've just let it be.
Let's hope this type of follow through is indicative of how Edelman is addressing the root problems that got them in this mess to begin with.


Edelman speaks...kinda

Richard and Steve have both issued the expected mea culpas over the whole Wal-Mart/Edelman blog hoax. From the early comments, all seems to be forgiven (aside from the requisite "took long enough" jibes). I have to admit, I'm shocked.

I'm the first to praise accountability and I appreciate the fact that they are not making excuses, so full credit there. But I want a better explanation of what took so long to address this. I can't believe 'we needed all the facts' is all we get. Frankly, I can't believe the facts were that hard to gather.

Richard says, "Our commitment is to openness and engagement because trust is not negotiable and we are working to be sure that commitment is delivered in all our programs."

OK, fair enough to move on and focus on a solution, not the problem. But please, after a third strike, tell us what steps are being taken to ensure this doesn't happen again.

I have been looking to Edelman for guidance as I (and the agency I work for) to navigate the social media landscape. This response is hugely disappointing (to say nothing of the event itself).


Heading to San Francisco

I'll be on the Left Coast this week for a mixture of business and pleasure. I'll get the chance to meet Andy Lark in person (which I'm sure will fall into both categories), so I expect to have some really interesting things to blog about upon my return!


What's with the anonymity?

I don't get commenters who use "anonymous" or some codeword name. (My favorite are the ones whose comments are rants about transparency!) Is it not true that some of the tenets of blogging are to speak your mind, have a thick skin, attack the idea not the person? If that's the culture we are trying to create, don't undermine it by hiding behind psuedonyms.


Enough already.

Old media vs. new media. TV vs. video blogging (Amanda disagrees with Jeff on that one...I'd argue it doesn't matter who is right, but Jeff makes a good point about the path of least resistance.) Publishing vs. conversing. Much ado about nothing.

"New media" is merely a label 'we' have chosen to talk about the latest collection of tools for publishing content (in only becomes a conversation if others engage) and sharing points of view. Certainly, these tools are making it much easier - and there is tremendous value in that. But they are only means to an end.

It's not trendy to admit this, but consumers and citizens have always been able to participate, it just wasn't as convenient. Op/Ed pieces, fan clubs, choose your own ending books, town hall meetings, the right to vote....the spirit of participation and conversation has long existed (in this country, at least).

So, can we stop pretending that the tools matter more than the outcome? If I want to cut down a tree, I'll use a chainsaw. If I want to slice bread, pass the knife, please.

What will determine winners and losers is the quality of the content and conversation, regardless of the medium. And hasn't this always been true, too? Anybody remember the sitcoms Jason Alexander did after Seinfeld? Didn't think so. (If there is a downside to new media tools, it is that the drivel spicket is now wiiiiiide open.)

I knew there was a good reason for it!

A study shows that social drinking helps boost income. No wonder my wife is so supportive of me going out for drinks after work! (Couldn't be that she just wants me out of the house, could it? Naaahhhh...)

Thanks, Zoli, for pointing this out.


Thank you, Nick Carr!!

I have been struggling to characterize the unease that accompanies my enthusiasm about this whole social media thing. I smell the next big thing in our profession, but abhor hype.

Nick Carr's thoughts on innovation really struck a chord.