Saturday, August 25, 2007

"This is Not a Brothel"

It's the summer doldrums, but I want to share with you Tom Coates' post on the frustrations of being emailed mountains of press releases by crappy PR people.

"This Is Not A Brothel"

I just spent a hour reading through some of Tom's posts- very thoughtful and well written. He's obviously not a big fan of PR, and feels that it is borderline immoral. It's amazing to me how many people think PR is nothing more than sending out press releases, and that's it. I can tell that of all the work we do for our clients, maybe 8% is writing press releases. I can also say that PR agencies that cut corners and merely mass email a press release are wasting their clients' time and money, and soon go out of business. (Hopefully)

It's also amazing to me how many people confuse advertising and PR, not understanding the difference between paid and earned media. To my mind, PR is better than advertising is that a pitch as least has to pass through a screen of "bullshit" detectors, whether they be reporters or bloggers.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Kicking Babies

As you have probably read, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is suing the American Red Cross (ARC) for using its trademarked red cross without authorization. You can read J&J's press release here. Apparently, J&J has owned the for-profit rights to the logo and the ARC has owned the non-profit rights for ages. The trouble apparently started when the ARC started licensing the symbol to merchandisers as a way to raise more capital. Mike Masnic at Techdirt has a nice take on the situation from a PR front.

Obviously, suing the Red Cross is not an action that is going to endear you to the public. But given that negotiations failed and the legal wants to press ahead, J&J's PR folks seem to have rubbed the rough edges off of what could have been/might be a spikey situation. In addition to the normal crisis communications/legal PR program, they created a blog to communicate their position to the ongoing conversation: http://jnjbtw.com.

You got to love to tone of the post: "You're Doing What?" Be sure to read the comments. Again, admire J&J's willingness to let people savage them on their own blog. I love the one where a nurse describes her elderly mother calling J&J "a bunch of puppy kickers."

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Google's 20% Policy

Kind of a busy day for a Tuesday in August, here in DC. I did read a very interesting blog I'd like to share about the guy at Google, Chris Wetherell, who had the original idea behind the Google Reader. To me, this is a great example of creativity in action and the kind of innovation that Google's 20% policy is driving.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Nardelli is back for more

Shifting gears (!) a little from my normal topics, I was interested to read about Bob Nardelli accepting a management post at Chrysler. You may remember ole' Bob as the guy who, while CEO of Home Depot, pissed off the shareholders by refusing to answer questions during the annual meeting and (more importantly) generating flat returns on the stock price. Known as an operations guy at GE, he mis-extended Home Depot into the wholesale market and lost traction again Lowes. After getting fired for all that, it was revealed that he had negotiated a nice $210 million severance package for himself.

All in all, not the greatest PR a guy could get. People spent the better part of a month flagellating the guy. I just assumed he'd buy a house in the Hamptons and do whatever really rich people do: sail a boat, marry a younger woman, whatever...don't get me wrong, it's not his fault Home Depot agreed to this monstrous severance package, he is certainly entitled to enjoy the fruits of his "labor".

But you have to give this guy credit, here is today at a press conference talking about his plans for turning around Chrysler. Quite a bold move for a guy with a bulls eye on his back. Of course, now, the only shareholder he has to deal with is Cerberus, a private equity firm.

Here is the Wall Street Journal's take on the deal:

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Unconference

I read an interesting post on Geoff Livingston's blog on BarCampDC, an upcoming "unconference." For those of you not familiar with the term or the concept, an unconference is a self-organized event where the participants schedule and arrange their own topics, sessions, space, speakers and sponsors, etc. This is all accomplished using those ubiquitous web 2.0 tools you've been reading so much about: blogs, wikis, feeds, whatnot.

The unconference concept has been around for a while, starting in the technology community, where it has evolved in a number of directions, not without controversy.

I do think, however, that sort of self generating gathering does have the potential to drive the margin right out of the trade show and conference business. Web 2.0 or social media has transformed publishing and media. Using the same tools and concepts, the same wave of change is heading to the staid world of trade shows. It'll be interesting to see how they react...