Seat of My Pants

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


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.


Vocus now has blogger profiles

During a recent training one of my teams was given on Vocus, the trainer mentioned that the service had just recently added bloggers to its database. Obviously, reaching bloggers is important to me and my clients, so I'm very much in favor of anything that is going to make that job easier - and I applaud Vocus for staying current and relevant. However, I am a little nervous about the concept of using PR 1.0 tools to conduct PR 2.0.

In theory, there should be no danger here b/c every PR practitioner would always perform due diligence before sending a pitch. (But we all know that, sadly, that isn't always the case.) My fear is that making it so easy to find bloggers will only encourage lazy PR. With so much sensitivity and discussion about the rules of blogosphere engagement, this could be a recipe for disaster.

Certainly, there were tools (Technorati, etc.) available already to research bloggers, but at least a) it required real research and b) it put the researchers in the new media realm, where you can't help but learn.

I'm not suggesting that we exclude anybody from PR 2.0, but I do hope the introduction happens the right way and spirit.


I don't wanna be lonely no more

YouTube's Lonelygirl15 has been exposed as a hoax! (Insert gasp, quickly use hand to cover open mouth.)

While it's possible that this does represent the future of brand marketing, until I get an explanation as to the point of the whole thing, I'm finding myself more annoyed than intrigued. (To be fair, I have a cold and am terribly cranky when I'm sick.)

That said, I am impressed by Matt Foremski's work to actually confirm the hunch I (and many others, I'm sure) had about this.


Weighing in on accreditation

Kami Huyse, Todd Defren and many others are debating the merits of accreditation in the PR field.

A while back, a client of mine proudly announced on a conference call "Guess what...I'm now an APR!!" At that point, those of us on the agency team stared at each other blankly before I finally regained my senses and managed to sputter some falsely enthusiastic congratulations. Now, this team contained some of the agency's best, brightest and most experienced folks (present company excluded, of course...) and none of us had any idea what she was talking about.

I'm the first to admit that we were ignorant, but it's telling that a group of very successful PR pros had never even explored the possibility of accreditation. This is not necessarily indicative that getting your APR is not valuable at all, but it does demonstrate there is not the same inherent value in it as in say, passing the bar exam.

I respect the effort, intelligence and dedication it takes to become an APR or ABC. And I'm sure that most are better at PR than they were before they got the accreditation. But if the goal is to make PR more relevant and change how it is viewed in the larger business context (I'm paraphrasing Kami here, but I'm sure she'd agree it's accurate), this is simply not the right fix for that problem.

Since we all have a finite amount of time, energy and brainpower, it's imporant that we prioritize and focus on efforts that will go the farthest toward attaining Kami's objectives. Rather than prioritizing accreditation - which is akin to getting preached at while sitting in the choir - we need to dedicate our efforts to getting real experience in other business functions. Probably the most valuable job I've had was when I ran corporate communications for a biotech company in San Francisco. In that role, I did run PR, but I also actively participated in fundraising, corporate development, HR and operational decision-making. When I returned to agency life, I was able to offer counsel to my clients with a level of knowledge and credibility that I couldn't have earned if I was "just" a PR guy.

Granted, I was lucky that I had a CEO with a relatively unique view on the value of the communications function and who was comfortable with me spreading my wings in this way. Not every role will provide this type of exposure all in one place, but the point is if you are going to look to become a better PR pro, first look outside the function to add perspective, skills and experience.