Social Media Top 5: We Don’t Need no Stinkin’ PR

I haven’t typically turned the Social Media Top 5 spotlight directly on my own honorable profession, public relations, but the recent run of low comedy in the social media world on the subject of PR leaves me no choice.

  1. Twitter “(does) not employ public relations professionals.” No kidding. I thought non-response to serious charges of harassment by some Twitter users against others was the result of a carefully-crafted PR program. I would also have recommended blaming your biggest cheerleader/ambassadors for your infrastructure problems. great move. Of course the people who invented blogger would have had no idea that their new shiny toy, Twitter, would engender heavy usage by the biggest “shiny toy” geeks on the Internet.

    I suspect the Twitter folks have been fielding calls from a few PR firms lately, the way a sailor dragging his bloody hand in the water may have attracted a few sharks.

  2. French/Silicon Valley entrepreneur Loic Lemeur, the man behind Seesmic (btw, I cheerfully took part in the alpha program), claims that entrepreneurs don’t need to hire PR professionals. He claims, correctly, that the best representative of a startup is the entrepreneur. However, I think he underestimates the value of outside counsel to tell an entrepreneur when, for example, pursuing some media coverage might be a stupid idea. Run your company, but hire experts (or an expert) to save you from yourself.

  3. Speaking of people in need of saving, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey is back blogging, months after the debacle in which it was discovered he was posting anonymously on Yahoo! stock forums. Remarkably, he defended his anonymity, and the nature of his posts.

    “More than 95 percent of my posts were made in response to other participants’ posts. I rarely originated posts myself. I made more than 1,400 posts on the Whole Foods Market and (competitor) Wild Oats online community message boards on Yahoo! over an eight-year period…In the total context of my participation in these two communities, my comments regarding Wild Oats occurred much, much less frequently than my comments about Whole Foods Market.

    As Christopher Walken might say, “Wowee wowee wow wow!” Even Fonzie had an easier time admitting he was wr-wr-wrong and moving on. My favorite part was his characterization of the CEO of a public company cheerleading anonymously on finance forums as a “mistake in judgment, not ethics.” Just. Wow. I’m all for second chances, but Strike Two.

  4. Because this is my blog and I make the rules, I’m stopping the Social Media Top Five at #4. I’m also going to praise a former client for his PR instincts. Jeremy Brosowsky of Brijit recently ran out of money to keep his startup going. Did people snicker or drag the corpse around the town square? No- they praised him and the site. They even gave him an award. Why? For one thing, the site is a great idea and people loved it. Also, Jeremy has great PR instincts. He is first to jump personally into any blog discussion (using his own name, Mr. Mackey) about Briit, and he also recognized the value of outside counsel, even though he eventually had to let us go for financial reasons. Not that Jeremy needed any saving from himself, but we would have been there.

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  1. Great post Doug and your indignation as a PR person is pretty obvious to me as an entrepreneur. But in my opinion it really depends on entrepreneur and the company if they need PR consulting of some type – I think that in some cases we really see great examples of an entrepreneur dealing with PR on behalf of the company pretty well (and Loic is a great example, I think) – it just depends on weather the entrepreneur has some kind of talent, understanding and instinct on how to deal with the issues right. But in the majority of the cases it is really better not to avoid extra costs involved in hiring a good PR professional to handle it for the company.

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