PR 2.0: Twice The Ego, Double the Insanity

I’ve said this before and I will say it again.  I really do like Brian Solis. But OMG!

If you are going to write a blog, then write a blog.  If you are going to write a book, then write a book.
Your May 26 entry on PR Tips for Startups (The Director’s Cut) is 103 paragraphs long. A total of more than 4,000 words.  As you point out, this is all stuff that you have covered before, so why must it go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on?
But really, the length is not what is bothering me.  Rather it is the continuation of the condescending attitude that was the focus of the media earlier this week, thanks to McClellan’s new book and Andrew Cohen’s thoughtless remarks and the PRSA’s knee-jerk reaction to the whole episode.
Why must you feed into the stereotypes?  Despite what you think, PR – at least the PR I have practiced for 28 years – has never been just about “writing and sending press releases to contacts generated by media databases.”  Who even calls them press releases since the 1970s? And by the way, no one but the most unsophisticated thinks that “publicity” is “public relations.”
Public relations has continued to expand every day for more than just a few hundred years. And it is no surprise that communications technology has continued to influence these evolutionary changes.  Little things like radio and film and TV evolved the industry during the 20th century, just as the Internet is evolving  changes in this century.  WE GET IT.
And yeah, your definition of PR 2.0 is a little bit accurate, but not completely. The assumption that the Web has presented the opportunity for “us” to reach our audiences directly and genuinely without gatekeepers is conceptually true. And sometimes it even happens that the “leader” of a company can use the Internet to talk to and listen to his or her customers.  The potential for two-way communication does exist thanks to the Web.
But that is one big fat POTENTIAL.  And I am getting ahead of myself.
You say: “Now it is about listening and engaging influencers and stakeholders on their levels.” Is that what you said?  Just curious what grassroots marketing and special events and open houses and employee picnics and trade shows and consumer shows and stuff like that were all about.  I don’t know, maybe connecting with your internal and external audiences?  Maybe talking directly to customers?
You do know that 25 years ago there was a guy named Tom Peters who advocated a thing called MBWA (management by wandering around); some called it “conversational PR” because it connected organizational management with employees and customers and vendors.
You want a world with more informed, effective and meaningful public relations? Then please stop characterizing the whole industry as if we were all idiot cavemen with a single tool (our publicity club).
And are you actually categorizing bloggers as if they were reporters or journalists?  They are communicators and town criers unless they have credentials that state otherwise.  I own an oven and a stove and I am not afraid to use them; but that doesn’t make me a chef.
And by the way, why are bloggers the busiest people you can meet?  Maybe because their blogs are too long (which this one has become)?  There might be a few physicians and teachers and bricklayers and cops who would argue with you on this point.
Anyway, I am done.  I have already talked too much and this blog post is becoming too bogged down in complaining, which was not my intent. I simply think you/we need a broader view of what public relations is all about and always has been about.  And we need to stop the stereotypes. It’s not publicity and we are not cavemen.  And the Web is our friend, but only if we use it wisely.
Jim Sweeney

Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.