PR firms are mighty enthusiastic to have relations with bloggers. Close, close relations. APCO Worldwide—a scarily connected lobbying and PR superfirm with all types of ex-politicos on its payroll (including former White House flack Scottie McClellan!)—just released a survey on "The State Of Blog Relations," that asked both bloggers and PR people about their ideas on how they can make nice with each other [via PRWeek, where I used to work]. So the flacks all came off like devious bastards, right? Well, some, but the bloggers also came off like money-grubbing sellouts!
In what could accurately be described as a gross perversion of natural law, a PR firm is attempting to hold a cutesy karaoke mixer party entitled "Flacks, Hacks, and Friends." This phrase makes no sense. Hacks are certainly not friends with flacks, on general principle. Most hacks aren't popular or social enough to have friends at all, so I don't know what the extra "and Friends" is for. Also: karaoke, really? Red Branch PR wants to "put aside all the ruckus for an evening of harmony, or lack thereof." So feel free to go and start a bar fight. Full invitation—for YOU—below.
In response to our call for lying flack stories, a tipster who works as "a high level advertising and marketing executive" brings us a story about Edelman, the huge PR firm that reps clients like Wal-Mart and Shell, and talks a lot about ethics in its marketing materials. So this little tale, while perhaps not surprising to those of you who have ever thought about the true meaning of "media training," is still pretty blatant:
Today is the day of the 45th annual Publicists Awards, where the Cinematographers Guild, which reps entertainment photographers, gives credit to those special Hollywood flacks. Billy Bush is hosting it! Even blogging chronicler of the writers strike and serial publicist-basher Nikki Finke is up for an award! But be sure to leave your cell phone cameras at home before you head out to the Beverly Hilton. The Guild is currently working to enforce an industry-wide rule to benefit their own members by banning all other cameras, including ones on cell phones, from film sets and locations. Seems that people were leaking stuff to interweb too much. So all you flacks: leak to YouTube, and kiss your lifetime achievement award goodbye. [Variety]
As we noted earlier this week, Wired editor Chris Anderson published 329 email addresses that he had blocked in the past 30 days; most were PR firms sending unsolicited pitches. Anderson stated (and several PR and media professionals corroborated) that it's foolish and counterproductive to send pitches to a magazine's editor-chief rather than a more specific writer or editor, especially since Wired publishes staff writers' addresses.
Is it any wonder why Yahoo's image is so unpolished? The ranks of top PR people available to buff it have been rapidly shrinking. And with CEO Jerry Yang all but hiding in a cave, there's been little for the survivors to do. The latest departure: Joanna Stevens, to parts unknown. That Stevens, an eight-year Yahoo veteran, would leave on such short notice, without another job lined up, is telling. It means, in short, that this ultimate Yahoo loyalist has finally tired of the company's mismanagement. Before new PR chief Jill Nash came on board, Stevens briefly ran the department, and she was close to former CEO Terry Semel (shown here with Stevens and Tom Cruise). When even the company's designated cheerleaders are turning in their pom-poms, you know the team is losing. (Photo by Joanna Stevens)
NICK DOUGLAS — The general geek public associates one name with Digg: Kevin Rose. He's the social site's public face, and no wonder: he spent years as a TV show co-host, and he's the younger and edgier of Digg's two co-founders. So in the aftermath of Digg's decision to let users illegally publish a code, why is his partner and CEO Jay Adelson giving all the interviews? He's the one who talked to the New York Times, Fortune, Wired News, and BusinessWeek. Because they got funneled through the same PR firm that I did.
NICK DOUGLAS — Another year and the bubble hasn't popped! Sysadmins and C-level execs alike, you deserve something special, like a drink named after you or your latest achievement. And Yahoos deserve a drink all to themselves. So after the first champagne, order these official cocktails for techies in 2007!
In case you weren't quite Christmas-ed out yet, The Slug has a joyous little collection of holiday cards from flacks far and wide. There's the Dennis Digital card, from the websites of Maxim, Stuff, and Blender, featuring a buxom young lass looking trapped in a melange of snowflakes; a Festivus card from some PR company we'd never heard of; a lovely little flip book from Capitol Records; and a dorky family-looking photo from Disney/ABC. They're all corny but relatively unoffensive, so we're more interested in the cheesiest cards you've gotten from various flacks this year. Please do send them to the usual address; we'll post the most egregious offenders later today or tomorrow.
As much as journalists hate hearing "This could be a big story for you!" from people begging for news coverage, it's still nicer than getting the same mass message as potential business partners, which only reminds journalists how low they are on the Valley hierarchy. A writer sends in this example:
- "So to hear today that Microsoft is partnering with Novell to offer sales support for Novell's Suse Linux AND cooperate with its old rival on Linux-Windows interoperability is ... astonishing — a bit like discovering that Stalin really sent Trotsky to Mexico for a nice vacation or that Itchy has shacked up with Scratchy." [Good Morning Silicon Valley]
Today a flack from public relations firm SS PR sent me yet another piece of spam following up an e-mail pitch I never asked for, proving that PR folks need some guidance in how to avoid being "that annoying flack" that journalists and business development workers gossip about at the bar. Because by pleasing journalists, you don't just help them — you help yourself.
The PR company for Stickam, a video site that embeds flash-based blah-blah-blah-who-cares, sent a "video pitch" to journalists and bloggers instead of the usual text pitch. Most threw it away like any old PR spam.
The following press release reads like a Colbert-style parody, but it's a real (and really lame) release for an event with Wired editor and Long Tail author Chris Anderson. Chris's publicist is trying to hype up a glorified free-for-all conference call, headlining the release with "MEDIA ALERT...MEDIA ALERT...MEDIA ALERT."