Roland Tanglao is writing while holding his crying baby, Evelyn Rodriguez in vacation in Ireland, would rather be strolling amongst the monastery ruins and lakes in the Glendalough valley instead of staring at her laptop in an Internet cafe, Dave Austin finds it hard to balance it with his fly-fishing trip: Between July 12 to 16, 2004, 37 passionated bloggers gathered in a wiki to attend the first Global PR Blog Week (a virtual convention).
Conscious that they were on the verge of a huge shift in the PR industry and that they were taking part of a historical moment, they found themselves struggling between the dream of changing PR (1. Ending the insidiousness of spin; 2. Increasing transparency; 3. Increasing ethics) and the realities of the industry.
Five years after, most of the ideas developed during the event are still relevant. Thank you John Cass for giving me today the opportunity of presenting a summery of these 60 posts and 183 comments and to update all the links.
The following summary is my personal view on things still relevant. If you have no time to go through this post, you may skip directly to the conclusion. However, it wouldn't be polite to all the the people who have worked tirelessly for 5 days and who are watching us. :)
1. My Top 5 Posts:
"We largely practice PR with the purpose of helping our clients get (...) maximum impact from promoting their messages to the mainstream media's "captured" audiences (leveraging off the media's authority to secure invaluable third-party endorsement). "
"Bloggers love the new medium for all the reasons that make it a scary prospect for traditional PR and old-style journalists."
"I don't believe in messages.
I don't believe in spin.
I believe in communication.
I believe in conversations.
I believe in relationships.
PR is dead, so let's get rid of it."
"The Speed of Disruptive Messaging via RSS and Blog Pings are Changing the Rules of Engagement in the World of Micro Communications."
"The increased public pressure for transparency is met by the businesses' concern that, instead of building trust, this will expose organizations to further harsh scrutiny. But organizations will have to change in order to survive, and PR professionals can have a leading role in this process."
2. Read in 15 Minutes what took me 3 Days!
Reading it really transports you back to an earlier time in the development of blogging and PR, while providing insights on today's reality. And it's kind to the persons who participated.
"My advice to PR people is to help citizens become more so-- more sovereign over information goods. Spin is not a good. Neither is a brick wall, or a blatantly one-sided story that cleverly coheres because it leaves out every single inconvenient fact. Public relations, if it wants to do good, should stand for real transparency in organizations, and genuine interactivity with publics.(...) PR could be to weblogs what spam is to email: Death of a social advance, the ruination of a perfectly good public instrument." Jay Rosen interviewed by Steve Rubel
"(Blogs were) created by people who trusted each other. Welcome to real world" Vadim Derkach
"The announcement of a change in McDonald's marketing strategy was probably due to the fact that in January of 2003, the Company announced its first-ever quarterly loss--$343.8 million--since becoming a public company in 1965. Undoubtedly the announcement is also reaction to the movie, Super Size Me, which slapped McDonald's in the face by coupling a gentleman's one month McDonald's-only diet with an extensive online marketing and blog monitoring campaign of his weight gain (which ripped through the blogosphere like wildfire). This caused brand damage."Robb Hecht quoting Larry Light, McDonald’s, on his approach called “Brand Journalism”
3. Some Observations
3.1. Historical Context of the Global PR Blog Week 1.0
The PR Blog Pioneers
- Dave Winer "Scripting News" (1997) mentioned by Anthony V Parcero.
- Tom Murphy "PR Opinions" (2002) mentioned by Richard Balley
Influential Texts of the time
- "We, the Media" (2004) by Dan Gillmor (OUT OF PRINT), referred by Jay Rosen in his interviewed by Steve Rubel
- "Corporate Weblog Manifesto" (2003) by Robert Scoble, mentioned by Trevor Cook
- "Integrated Branding" (2002) by Lynn Parker and F. Joseph Lepla, referred by John Cass
- "Momentum: How Companies Become Unstoppable Market Forces" (2002) by Ron Ricci and John Volkmann, referred by Evelyn Rodriguez
- "Now is too Late" (2002) by Gerald Baron referred by John Cass
- "Cluetrain Manifesto" (2000) by Doc Searls, Chris Locke, and David Weinberger, referred by Angelo V Parcero, Robb Hecht, and Trevor Cook
Some blogs of the time
- B.L. Ochman Blog List (with working links)
3.2. Blogging justification
Most of the posts were partially about blogger rights and justification to write a blog. Today, there's no need to justify their existence. Many traditional media and corporations have embraced this form of communication.
3.3. Blog types
I was surprised that during Global PR Blog Week 1.0 people took the time to make the clear distinction between the different blog categories: personal blogs, corporate blogs, institutional blogs and media blogs; and that today we don't have that discipline anymore. That confuses discussions.
Journalist and employee blogs don't have to be 100% personal and do have corporate responsibilities. John Cass represents well, in Voice and in Content, a corporative blog approach in his post.
"We must distinguish between: 1) Corporate blog: an official blog from a company, which signals that the blog is an official communications channel for the company; 2) Employee blog: a blog run by one or several employees of a company, with or without the endorsement of the company, about the company or business related to it." Hans Kullin
3.4. Women Rock!
After reading all posts and comments, I must admit that women have a different Voice and somehow, what they say seems more concrete and innovative with the medium. A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on this and Twitter. So here is a selection of quotes that I find different in content and in Voice:
“Yep, it's about the relationship AND it's about who you know and who knows you.” Meryl K. Evans
“Join in the conversation and help us figure it out, vs. playing armchair quarterback. You'll find we are pretty open to debate here!” Elizabeth Albrycht
“Admit it -- few would blog if there was an audience of one. We all want an audience otherwise why do it? Yes, we love sharing our thoughts, questions, and opinions; but what good is it if we feel like we're talking to a wall? “ Meryl K. Evans
An only women exchange: Alice Marshall, Ann, Elizabeth Albrycht commenting: "Pitching Small Business Stories" (comments at the end)
"Posting must simply be consistent, not necessarily frequent. Just so the reader knows what to expect." Alice Marshall
"A blog post will never be perfect. (…) 1) Being in touch with your "muse" and 2) writing uncensored, unfiltered from that place of connection - that is the rich soil that the authentic voice emerges from (…) stopping short of 100% completeness, wholeness and perfection leaves room for your audience to engage, collaborate, and add to the work. I hope you know that these posts are merely works in progress and not completed masterpieces.” Evelyn Rodriguez
"PR people have been trained to be invisible in the old "control the message" world. In this new world, they need to celebrate their identity. Don't hide behind the client, but participate in public conversations with the client. Be open about what you are trying to persuade people to do and give them darn good reasons to take the action you want them too." Elizabeth Albrycht. Five years after, Brooke Hammerling made the same point in a recent New York Time article "Spinning the Web: P.R. in Silicon Valley".
"Reporters work for their editors" Alice Marshall quoting Mary Marshall
Too many blogs' problem? "1) Who cares? Better to have too many outlets and have to find the ones you like than to have a choice between just a few outlets, in Australia some cities have just one daily newspaper owned by Murdoch, one national newspaper owned by murdoch and the world's only left wing financial newspaper. I love the idea of limitless choice 2) News feeds help us scan a lot of blogs and sites and save a lot of time and let us focus more easily on what we want, as do Google news feeds etc With new tools like the Findory Blogory and Kinja emerging I think this will get easier and more user friendly all the time 3) We can use other bloggers as our assistant filters and web navigators (...)" Trevor Cook, What?! a man? But he was quoting Rebecca Blood from few years back.
3.5. TRUE: 77% of PR professionals believe their profession has an image problem!?!
When I stopped laughing, I looked again at the numbers. Tom Murphy did a study over some PR professionals and 77% of them agree: PR profession has an image problem. Unbelievable!
"My research suggests, however much some practitioners might preach transparency, there is a widespread acceptance that that's not what the client - internal or external - is paying PRs to do."
To the question: "Would you personally agree strongly that ethics is good business?" PRs 47% agreed, Clients 17% agreed. Phil (Meditations) did the same study during the Global PR Blog Week 1.0 and visitors came up with similar results: 68% PRs agreed, Clients 20% agreed.
"It is (also) difficult to explain how 63pc of PR practices in the North East of England can be ethically "better than most" ???
4. Bastien's Comparative Chart
|PR and Media fear of blogs||PR and Media embrace them|
|Blogging is an alternative media||Blogs are a mass media (as a group)|
|Had to justify blog to boss||Boss is on Facebook|
|Use of blogs to be covered in Media||Use of blogs for themselves|
|People and small business had restricted access to Traditional media||With YouTube, Twitter, Blogs, traditional media are more accessible|
|Too many blogs||Google is the blog|
|Trust in traditional media||Trust in peers|
|PR is about creating message||PR is about an “open source” message and leveraging relationships|
|Blogs stretch the traditional news cycle in a second cycle||Social Media creates a third news cycle that starts before the blogs and the traditional media|
|Users go to Website to access content on blogs.||Users stay in their Facebook or Twitter profile page, granular content comes to them|
|Content oriented people||People oriented content|
|Bloggers fear the Spin and lack of transparency from PR agencies||Bloggers fear the Spin and lack of transparency from PR agencies|
|Hope to change Transparency and Spin||Little breakthroughs :)|
|Blogs are organizational record-keeping||Social-media sites too.|
|Need for PR measurement||Need for PR measurement|
|Dial-up was still in use||Surf on cellphones|
|Low level of women blogging||Equal level of women in Social Media|
5. A Final Word
Simultaneously, the Global PR Blog Week revealed that there's a strong feeling that this increasing responsibility should be taken care by C-level employees, not by CEO's and board of directors. Trevor Cook said it well when he said: When he said "Put PR at the heart of the organization".
The trend of PR taking over advertising takes another perspective when you know that David Ogilvy, considered the father of modern advertising (and everything that bloggers wish to make obsolete) always considered employees of a company as "ambassadors of the brand" and "the most powerful marketing tool" for companies. By the end of his life, he was more interested in "corporate cultures" than "communication strategies".
This shift from advertising to PR can't go without a new form of PR that embraces human resources.
The last word goes to Alice Marshall reflecting afterward on the Global PR Blog Week:
Read other Bastien's posts, click here