Tag Archives: bloggers

Your Blog is Dead… So Give Up

Benson J. Lossing, The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851)I:101
I thought my blog was dead and that I should give up until I read a blog post by Bill Sledzik today called “The death of blogging? Kill me now!” I have to admit that’s a pretty killer title for a post. But this guy’s a self-proclaimed storyteller for God’s sake! So his title had better be. All joking aside; he’s a legitimately excellent and qualified storyteller, and he makes a great point in his post.

Bill said (while paraphrasing) that according to a USA Today article, brands are…

“bailing out of their blogs in favor of social channels that are less labor intensive and more connected to their audiences…”

What a terrible excuse! This is true laziness on the part of corporate America. PR pros and marketers alike need to use the mediums that effectively reach their target publics to reach their objectives. Just because you can pop out a 140-character post in less than three minutes doesn’t mean you should discount the power of a blog. Companies are killing their own blogs by drowning their readers in self-promotion and ego-centric posts. It’s no wonder they’re not getting any ROI from their blogs.

A blog needs to be strategic like any other communication vehicle we use. Why would it be any different? Because we’re lazy? Well, the answer is YES. I’ll be the first to take the blame. It’s a pain in the ass to keep up with a blog. But if it’s done with a central strategy in mind, carefully planned and well-written with rich content it may just work!

It’s always been about content. If you’re a technical company, it may take 1,500 words with technical diagrams to effectively reach and engage your audience. If you’re a consumer-driven company selling candy, quick 100-200 word snippets with several fun photos may be the solution.

In either case, if a blog is identified as a tool that will help reach your business objectives, use it if you can. Sometimes the easier and faster solution isn’t the best one.

Thanks to Bill Sledzik, my former prof from Kent State University and beer drinking pal, for inspiring me to write this post. Check out his blog ToughSledding.

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SOPA and PIPA kill Freedom of Speech

Google's homepage during the 24-hour black out

We’ve been inundated in the media with the proposed legislation of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) acts, which were written by lawmakers to stop online piracy.

But as a PR professional, I find it ridiculous that the core thrust of this legislation arose from intensive lobbying efforts by Hollywood movie and music industry conglomerates.

Having worked in industries that heavily lobby and done a bit of lobbying myself for causes, I know how it works. To discuss important issues with our legislative delegates is important and needed, but to use the influence and funding this industry has for specific and self-serving purposes really ticks me off.

Hey, I love movies and music as much as the next person, but to black out sites because they just “might” be breaking this law is heinous. That’s why we created the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, according to Julianne Pepitone in a recent article from CNN Money. More importantly, websites that provide information and provide products and services among many others, would have no right to due process or to appeal.

A Potentially Illegal Video


*If I shared this video as an example, the Attorney General would have the power to shut this blog down even though I am attributing it to Editor-in Chief, Evan Hansen, from Wired.com!

Can you imagine YouTube just shutting down the moment this bill was passed? Businesses link to millions of their videos hosted on YouTube; bloggers use YouTube to upload and embed videos on their blogs; and let’s not forget that YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine! That’ll impact Web searching, as well as possibly end social search, or at least be a huge detractor.

Think about the sheer amount of invaluable information that would be reduced to rubble and how we, as a society, would react. We rely on the Internet like we rely on breathing. Well, stop breathing people if this bill is passed.

And the whole concept of content marketing, creation, distribution and aggregation would be almost impossible to achieve. Our country is founded on the First Amendment and freedom of speech; and we as PR pros and communicators base our existence on this as a guiding light to promote our messages, changes perceptions and educate the communities we serve.

A Final Thought
My final thought on this subject for the moment before Federal officials take down my blog (insert frown emoticon) is that we better fight this. If we don’t, we’ll be at the mercy of relentless Federal legislation restricting our use of content, in every form. PR pros, agencies and organizations like Shel HoltzOgilvy Public Relations Worldwide and the Public Relations Society of America as a united organization have opposed these bills. Follow their lead!

A News Flash
The only positive news recently released today was that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid indefinitely postponed the Congressional Hearing this coming Tuesday (Jan. 24).

Find your local representative and contact them

A Voice that Counts
There’s still time to voice your opinion though and join forces on opposing SOPA and PIPA before we join the company of China, Iran and other superpowers that have censored the Web to no end. Take action! Check out Wikipedia’s page to look up your local public officials and sign the petition.


Inclusion drives support for Treasury Department


Front of the Treasury Department Building

While I don’t typically discuss anything related to politics anymore (spent too many years in the political realm), I do want to discuss the recent Treasury Department meeting. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner held a meeting on Nov. 2 – which doesn’t seem out of the ordinary – except for the fact that he invited 20 key financial bloggers to attend in person.

Many of these bloggers had chastised the department and Geithner in the past, but have now changed their tune. Why? Because they were included in the real-world conversation – a first in the Treasury’s history. Of the 20 invited, eight showed up at their own expense. Not bad considering the economy; but fitting since it was at the Treasury Department.

According to an article in The New York Times yesterday, Tyler Cowen, an economics professor at George Mason University, who writes for the Marginal Revolution blog and contributes to The Times, said:

The meeting shows that the Obama administration is working very hard on outreach to a lot of different media sources… I think we were much better informed than the groups they’re used to talking to.

Andrew Williams, a spokesman for the Treasury who helped plan the event, stated that Geithner has “long valued the blogosphere.” Geithner had also commented that while serving as the president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, he requested relevant daily blog posts.

Williams said another reason for the outreach is that the “blogs are influential, especially because they are read by reporters at more traditional outlets.”

How did PR impact this?
Geithner and his team made a smart decision to include financial bloggers in an ordinary, run-of-the-mill meeting. It made the bloggers, who usually feel disconnected, part of the conversation and decision-making process. They were able to ask questions in person, rather than make assumptions after hearing about it via a blog post.

Social Media is all about inclusion and developing strong conversations that resonate with your target audiences. I applaud the Treasury Department for its desire to take a step in the right direction – creating transparency, trust and advocates among their once weary target audience.

This is a great example of how a PR professional can influence the dissemination of information among target publics by being forward-thinking and proactive.

Steve Randy Waldman, blogger for the blog Interfluidity sums it up perfectly when he said:

I’d like to thank the “senior Treasury officials” for taking the time to meet with us, and for being very gracious hosts. Whatever disagreements one might have… It was an extreme privilege to sit across a conference table and have a chance to speak with these people… The mere invitation made me more favorably disposed to policy makers…


ad:tech ruffles PR’s ethical feathers

Last month was PR Ethics Month, when we remind ourselves about the host of ethical dilemmas we, as PR practitioners, face. It’s also a time to reflect on our commitment to a stringent code of ethics placed at the highest point of our personal and professional standards. Each year, the world’s largest professional association for public relations practitioners, PRSA, makes it a point to highlight new changes to its ethical code, as well as promote various issues facing PR ethics and how to approach them.

Industry publications like PRSA Tactics, PRWeek and others regard ethics to reside at the core of public relations practice. Recently, leadership at ad:tech, an annual gathering of online marketers, offered free or discounted access to the conference for endorsed tweets, Facebook and blog posts from prominent bloggers. We in PR call this Pay-for-Play or Pay-to-Play. The definition was recently updated by the Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS) with PSA-9.

The request for coverage from ad:tech was exposed by bloggers and PR people within the industry. In a blog post by Jason Chupick from PRNewser on Oct. 17 detailed the news of what ad:tech had done, including the full letter of apology. Chupick said:

My co-editor confirmed by phone yesterday that the person who sent the emails neither works internally at ad:tech, or at their PR firm Edelman.

What the organization did
With the negative responses and comments swirling and growing stronger, Event Director, Mike Flynn, from ad:tech immediately posted a full apology for its inappropriate actions. This was the right move, and helped mitigate any further negative brand perception, but may have done some damage.

Regardless of who sent the emails to the bloggers and journalists, ad:tech management should have made sure they knew what was going on. Their PR firm – the world’s largest independently owned agency, Edelman – should have been a part of this since they were the agency of record and PR counsel to the organization. My question is, who sent out the emails then? And how are they being dealt with? This person/s should be held accountable in some way and exposed for what they did.

How ethical are PR people?
We keep saying we follow an ethical guiding light that points us in the right direction, but we hear too many stories similar to this one. That prompts me to wonder if we just think we’re ethical or if we truly understand ethical standards but turn a blind eye when we feel we can personally gain. Interestingly enough, a survey was done by Carol Orsborn, Ph.D., and Judith Rogala, for their book “Trust Inc,” revealing that less than 10 percent of PR practitioners ever received any training on how to make ethical decisions.

Ann Subervi, president and CEO of Utopia Communications, Inc. in Red Bank, N.J., made some comments that are a fitting end to this post and ones that we should try to employ.

Most of us struggle with what action to take when faced with an ethical dilemma. While awareness of ethics is great, the ability to act ethically is even better. Ethics cannot be a once-a-year focus. Rather, it needs to be an ongoing focus.


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