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The Worst of PR and WOM – All In One Post

T he worst aspects of PR and Word-of-mouth (WOM) were laid bare in one pitiful post this weekend. Filled with stereotypes and void of character (while masquerading as one), Strumpette busts on the scene and is quickly exposed by – a student.

A blogger, calling itself Strumpette attempted to be cute with a post about Steve Rubel.

The funniest part of the whole post, to me, is that a UK student PR blogger – Stephen Davies – was the first to point out that this is a lame copy of Spin Bunny, the first PR gossip blog – and from the UK. (That link/site is dead, by the way.) Who knows, it may be Spin Bunny coming out of the rabbit hole. I doubt it, though. That blog was creative.

…once again
cutesy nonsense proves to be a stronger lure
than rational thought in PR blogs…

Think of a character blog without character and you have Strumpette. A cowardly anonymous one-hit wonder (and a minor hit, at that) drops into PR blog world with an attempt at starting a viral meme. Viruses are not something Strumpette is likely lacking. Strumpet is a prostitute. How cute! We’ve never heard that before in reference to PR, now have we. Oh, the imagination and the literary skills on display – it just takes your lunch away. And, of course, going for further cuteness the author (a kind term) has to make it different by using Strumpette. Creativity defined by domain availability, I imagine. Is this the New PR?

Now come on people. We all know that Strumpette is more likely to be a fat, fifty-ish, fool of a guy with a gut the size of his ego than some cute PR bunny.

It gets worse.

I said to someone, before the first comment had been posted, that Strumpette’s blog smelled like fishing bait. Well, it had quite a lure.

If you were slammed by a caricature, would you respond? Steve Rubel and Rick Murray both responded – more than once. Ah, the power of word-of-mouth. It draws people into the conversation.

Now, if you have read this blog, you know that I’ve been critical of Rubel on more than one occasion. My posts, and those of several others, contain one aspect that Strumpette cannot seem to match. We signed our names. We posted openly and freely accepted criticism without moderating comments. Petty and tired attempts at humor in anonymous blogs are not good for anyone.

The talk of Rubel and his tenure at Edelman Worldwide is not new. The reason the discussion has any validity is only partly about Rubel, too. Yes, his writings and utterances about PR are sometimes circumspect. That is part of the story. The bigger implication, for PR and blogging, is about how a popular blogger has now been hired by a major PR firm. Will it work? Will clients buy in? Will they be well served?

The ultimate question is really – will new media tactics, not Rubel, make PR better – more effective?

The jury is out on that one. It will take a good six months to a year to see if it works in the Edelman Worldwide/Rubel example.

What should surprise everyone (and likely doesn’t) is that a fake prostitute blog was able to draw the subjects of the post into the conversation.



27 comments

  1. Robert,

    Bottom line: you are threatened by a woman confident enough to use her sex as a tool. Frankly, that’s all Madonna was and she’s still whistling all the way to the bank.

    Ciao,

    – Amanda Chapel

  2. Well said! But I think the object here was links and linkrank, the comments don’t do much to legitimize the Strumpette. Links do!

    This is a good critique, and the first that has mentioned the blog’s un-originality. The tactics were old as the oldest profession.

    Unfortunately, this post added to the linklove, which now equals 18 links for two posts. It seems the tactics are working, all around. Which proves that people really do read the trashiest tabloids in the supermarket!

  3. Kami, I don’t have a problem with giving a link (via trackback) to draw in the goober.

    There is a little tool called rel=”nofollow” for links, though. And that is in place on this post. So, when Google et.al. come by, no link love for the pro-wannabe.

    And, as for the trackback to lure in the coward, my next comment…

  4. “Amanda” is a Chicago RCN Cable subscriber.

    Could this nonsense be coming from within Edelman’s corporate headquarters, or from another firm there, or just some sad sack with an axe to grind but no character – so they remain anonymous?

    Until the anonymous blogger steps up, there is no credibility in anything it writes.

    Say hello to someone claiming to be “Amanda” everyone.

    IP for the comment above is:

    24-136-10-126.hnc-bsr1.chi-hnc.il.cable.rcn.com

    Interesting thing, blogs. They track this kind of thing. And, if my info is correct, this isn’t something easily spoofed. That IP comes from the sender source.

  5. “Oh, the imagination and the literary skills on display – it just takes your lunch away. And, of course, going for further cuteness the author (a kind term) has to make it different by using Strumpette. Creativity defined by domain availability, I imagine. Is this the New PR?”

    **chuckles** :-)

    In time, I hope I can put words together like that!

  6. Nice post on what does matter – and what should matter – for your students: are these new tools going to change PR, and will the success or failure of high-profile hires (me included in that camp) be contigent on that success or failure.

  7. Robert,
    Very well-thought out post. I’ve wondered a bit since yesterday if this wasn’t a ruse by Edelman’s firm. Who knows? Ultimately, who cares? If it doesn’t distract us (too much) from our work, it’s all in good (not-so-clean nor nice) fun.

    But, Amanda’s comment about you is interesting: “Bottom line: you are threatened by a woman confident enough to use her sex as a tool.”

    When a woman uses her sexuality “as a tool,” she’s either strong and confident, or degrading women in general.

    I guess, with any “tool,” it’s all in who is using it and how it’s used.

    Now, where’s my shovel . . . .
    Mike

  8. Note from Editor: I am putting this comment back up. After seeing this post by Mike Krempasky, there certainly seems to be a connection here. Now Brian Connolly may, or may not, be the person writing Strumpette, but this is a curious coincidence, at the least. I would like to hear from all the parties as it seems we are quite close to having an exposure of the faux blogger very soon. Mike did a good job of rooting out this info and he, nor I, meant any harm in sharing it.

    __________________________________________________

    Now, I know relatively little about technology. So, the following may be hogwash, and no harm is meant by it. But . . .

    I found the IP address for Ms. Chapel’s comment at:
    http://www.contentmanager.net/community/forum/11/15/16.html
    It’s a discussion through about “Miro International Supports Mambo Open Source Community in Disputing Furthermore Claims”
    Ms. Chapel’s comment IP address is the same as someone named “Furthermore” in that discussion.

    If you follow the link by “furthermore”:
    http://www.literatigroup.com/versusmambo/content/view/54/46/1/2/
    that is in that discussion, you get to a statement about Miro International. In that statement, there is reference to a Brian Connolly of Chicago-based Furthermore Inc.

    Mr. Connolly had a couple comments on Steve Rubel’s blog in February about the Edelman Talk Shop look and brand:
    http://www.micropersuasion.com/2006/02/talking_shop.html

    Mr. Connolly’s Furthermore Inc. publishes wepublishing.com, a platform for managing Web community information.

    So, is there a legit connection between Ms. Chapel and Mr. Connolly? Or, has my inept tech expertise been exposed?
    Mike

  9. I’ll start from the most recent and work my way up in response.

    Mike, your observations and finds may be quite telling. It will certainly take someone with more skills than I to tell if this is a valid connection. On the face of it, I’d say it certainly sounds interesting.

    Internet communication has few absolutes. One is that nothing you write is private. Nothing.

    And Mike, as for your comment about the “tool,” I believe you’re right on that one. It/She/He is doing more harm than good.

    Jeremy, thanks. I wanted to take some semblence of value out of this mess for the students. Strumpy doesn’t seem to understand that concept.

    Stephen, you’re great. I enjoy your blog, man. You’re already there. Good job on tagging the Strumpy blog for what it is, too.

  10. UPDATE: The comment I removed, is now back up. I have re-posted it after reading this post from Mike Krempasky. I have edited this comment and removed the one that was above. After seeing it, I thought the only sensible thing to do was call and confirm the information. The individual mentioned in the comment denied that he was involved. So, I have agreed to remove it – on his request – because, as he put it, “These things tend to develop a life of their own.” He’s right and if not involved should not have to deal with this. I request that anyone that may have copied this info do the same. No sense in another person getting caught up in all of this.

    Well, Mike, I did the one thing that I could think of to clarify this all. I called the man Mike referred to in his comment. He says that indeed he does have cable with RCN, but this was not his comment and he stated that he has never heard of the Strumpette blog. He also stated that his IP is dynamic, so it could be repeated for other users along the way.

    I’ll admit that there is a certain note of curiosity in that his IP address comes into play regarding Steve Rubel. But, according to the gentleman, it is pure happenstance and a random act of IP addresses being shared. I have, of course, paraphrased his responses.

    So, that is the best answer I can give you.

    The gentleman did wish to have his name and info removed, so I have done that. Mike meant no harm and neither did I.

    So, if it is not him — who then?

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  13. Hmm? Ya’ know, Kami, it maybe that I added rel=”nofollow” after having hit publish and Technorati grabbed it immediately. I know I’ve made a mistake and done that before. Or, Technorati is having a fluke and recording it. Honestly can’t remember. Well, it won’t get into the other directories. Wonder if Technorati would pull it if I asked?

    Wait, wait…. that is a search for the word Strumpette.  OK, I think in that case Technorati searched my blog when I posted (because I use tags automatically) and therefore the ‘word’ gets indexed.  With the rel=”nofollow” link the site won’t get any special consideration.

    I think, for this to have not been indexed, I would have had to remove the ping to Technorati from my blog software.  But, even then, my blog is in their rotation, so eventually the reference would have been indexed.  I would have had to remove the blog’s name, too.

    From the Technorati Wiki:

    RelNoFollow is one of several MicroFormats. By adding rel="nofollow" to a hyperlink, a page indicates that the destination of that hyperlink SHOULD NOT be afforded any additional weight or ranking by user agents which perform link analysis upon web pages (e.g. search engines).

  14. Now come on people. We all know that Strumpette is more likely to be a fat, fifty-ish, fool of a guy with a gut the size of his ego than some cute PR bunny.

    Wow, I have to confess, that possibility had never had never presented itself. Well done.

    As to comment moderation, sometimes that is the only way to ward off comment spam.

  15. The link I sent you was actually a search by URL (not Strumpette), which is how I monitor people who link to my blog. You are in the count, not that it really matters, it is exponential now. It now has 40 total links in two days.

  16. Actually, the other amusing part is that there is so much more out there today and yesterday that deserved more attention and commentary on PR blogs … but that got lost in the noise.

    And, yes, I was part of that noise via commenting, but hey, at least I blogged on a PR issue over the weekend.

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  18. THIS IS not about people belittling the PR profession. What “THIS IS” is a PR stunt by a man in Chicago who needs to get his ass kicked for insulting professional women in this way. It isn’t funny. And the comments from PR flacks in the industry on the faux site aren’t funny – but they are a ripe example of the discrimination women face in the business world.

    I’m flabbergasted.

    kindly,
    kirsten
    ceo
    re:invention, inc.
    http://www.reinventioninc.com

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  20. Well, lots of comments to respond to, so I’ll once again start with the most recent and work my way up.

    Fard, thanks for the trackback. I addressed the confusion in a comment at Envisioning 2.0. Thank you for being patient. You were not taken in. Not at all. The relationships just weren’t clearly defined when I first called Mr. Connolly.

    Kristen, you will not get any argument from me on your comments. The majority of my students are women and they certainly won’t be pleased with the tone of Strumpy’s site. Just read Erin Caldwell’s post at Forward-Moving.com for one example. Erin says, “This whole episode just makes me roll my eyes and cry out, ‘UGH!'” Trust me, she wants to do more than say “UGH!”

    Jeremy, thanks for the comment and link. Hey, I know where you are coming from and where you stand. You always bring any conversation back to sound thought. Thanks for doing that, too.

    Kami, forgive me, you are right. I am under an NyQuil induced haze right now from a cold. I am guessing that I must have added the “nofollow” after initially publishing. That seems to be the only reasonable explanation. Certainly you are right that leaving the link out is the best way to avoid giving anyone undeserved attention. So, I will take from this that anyone who follows the link to my blog for a take on the Strumpette will certainly not leave with any belief that I support, condone, or find funny, the juvenile nonsense that is Strumpy.

  21. Update: You should know, before reading this, that over time it became completely clear that Brian Connolly was behind the Stumpy site and behind all sorts of behind the scenes attacks on many people … including me. So, take with a grain of salt, my defense of Stumpy … he was in his mode of trying to cover up the truly tacky things he was doing. I fell for his lame misdirections … for awhile, but no longer.

    On an aside, I have now had a few phone conversations with Mr. Brian Connolly. He has called me now more than I’ve called him. I doubt he is writing the blog. I do think he supports the right of someone to write Strumpy for a multitude of reasons.  I gather from our conversations that Brian is, if even unwittingly as a hosting reseller, hosting the blog.  No harm there.  He is in business and someone bought space on his servers.

    Now, anyone that hosts a blog using Domains By Proxy could have a good reason for not wanting people to see their home or business address, email addresses and phone numbers.  But, to me, it is incumbent upon them to post their real names and some form of contact info on their blog if they decide to participate in personal attacks on others.  Now, is anyone really going to argue that point with me?

    Hey, I support the right of self-expression, too. The lack of transparency, which Mr. Connolly disdains (trust me, he made that very clear in the most recent phone conversation), is not something I agree with, though.

    Yes, the author has every right to post anonymously. They also, by posting, make themselves open to criticism and attempts to discover who they are. It is the nature of the online beast.

    I have no overwhelming desire to ferret out the author of Strumpy. I only posted the IP of the commenter at the top of this thread because I think anonymity, when making attacks, is a petty, childish and irresponsible behavior. The lack of transparency, when occuring in relation to public relations makes the act of hiding even more ludicrous.

    If you do not have the character to post your name along with your posts and comments, then do us all a favor and keep to yourself. Anyone that engages in, or supports, such behavior will never gain any respect.

    Respect? Character? Decency? Anonymous cowards will never even know what those words really mean.

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