This is one of a group of posts I’ve been sitting on re: the recent press release kerfluffle. Todd Defren suggests I “git a little louder” in comments at Shel Holtz’ latest post, so here we go. I just posted about five items that I’ve been thinking about. Some are rants, others are reports of activities we’ve been undertaking in classes. This particular post is more rant than anything else. I just can’t contain it anymore. My intent is not to offend.
soma was their panacea. The cure-all. It made you feel good. It kept society in line and manageable.or those in the Brave New World,
Today, there are the blog evangelists in the Brave New Blogosphere. For them, blogs are too often desired, just as soma was in Huxley’s novel. Let us remember that Huxley’s novel was fiction. Some of what the blog evangelists preach is fiction, too. I’m not saying be quiet. I’m asking that the evangelists, the enthusiasts, look at the larger world and not allow the myopic anecdotal observations of their market (mostly the tech market), to cloud their suggestions for all markets.
They think that blogs will right the wrongs of the customer / corporate relationship. Blogs, they think, will be adopted by all and revolutionize the way customers interact with businesses, citizens with politicians, and so many more stakeholder relationships. Some seem to worship blogs as if they are Panacea, the Greek goddess of healing. That is less jest, and more realistic observation, than you may think.
In Huxley’s book, people would say:
“you do look glum! What you need is a gramme of soma
In the Brave New Blogosphere, they say:
If you think about it, blogs are their idea of utopia. But, for those of us that actually read books, we know Huxley’s book was not the ideal of utopia. It was a nightmare. To follow some blog evangelist cries to “Just use a blog”, you might be creating a nightmare for your client. OK, the “actually read books” thing was mean. I apologize. But, it does bother me. Can you understand why I’m sometimes miffed when I read these things? The statements about adoption of blogs are so broad, so universal, that they miss the realities of our world.
Is it any wonder that some blog evangelists have koolaid stained lips?
“the warm, the richly coloured, the infinitely friendly world of a soma blog-holiday. How kind, how good-looking, how delightfully amusing every one was!”
better worse. As I mentioned in a previous post, there is a tendancy to dismiss calls for rational thinking as wholesale dismissal of a movement – like social media. Nothing could be further from the truth, for me. I embrace it. But, I try to do it with an eye on the vast world of numerous public relations jobs my students may wind up in down the road.
This back and forth about SMNRs and press releases may be an example of the Koolaid Point, from 2005. Again, I’m not dismissing the thought leaders. I read them. I like a lot of what they say and write. But, reality has its place, too. Right?
These same evangelists say that press releases are dead. They no longer have any use or value. These evangelists seem to think they understand PR and they don’t – not the entire world of PR practice, at least. Most of these evangelists reside in Silicon Valley or other tech industry rich areas. They are, in these anti-PR rants, myopic to the rest of the real world.
Let’s visit a new place for those in their technology world, soma (blog) induced, myopic haze. It is called – welcome to our world … the realistic practice of public relations across the world … of just the United States.
There are more than 30,000 public notice laws in the 50 United States. All of those may be fulfilled (and likely are) by the use of news releases. Old and antiquated? Perhaps. In many instances, yes! But, they are still there. They are still the law of the land. We have to deal with these realities. Businesses and organizations, goverments and individuals must comply. This isn’t a choice, folks.
With 3,000 counties and 25,375 places like cities and towns identified in the 2000 census, we can safely guess that there are the following PR practitioners in those places. That’s a different source and total from my previous post … just to help clarify the reality a bit more.
School districts and city/town governments? Let’s be conservative. This could well mean that we have about 30,000 times two (2) practitioners, or people with the job (purpose) of public relations. Come on, you know that’s the case. Each has at least one school district, on average, and each has at least one city government, on average. The number is actually probably higher. I’m just trying to be conservative and fair.
If we want to be more realistic, think about it. The police, or public safety, offices have public information officers. so does city hall. Now we are up close to 100,000 communicators, or PR practitioners. They all have required tasks which involve informing the local media (print and broadcast) about city news. Some/many are required by law. Can’t you see? We have yet to begin talking about busineses and nonprofits here. Can you see the scope?
Please, may we all agree that only a small percentage of people actually read blogs. And, it will take years for the use of online communication practices to be adopted as accepted practice for all of these required public notifications.
Do you really expect me, with a straight face, to go to Slapout, Alabama (real name) and suggest they now do all communication via blog? How about Jackson’s Gap? I wouldn’t suggest it in Birmingham and Atlanta, either. It would be foolish. As a part of an overall mix? Sure, that makes sense. But to say just use a blog …. well, it’s lunacy.
You see, what the blog evangelists continually forget is that traditional communication mediums (or “places”, the new politically correct term among evangelists) are still thriving. Most PR is local, too. Now, there is a reason for the pervasive myopia present in all of these social media / blog evangelizing conversations. They are typically people in technology sectors of the economy. They are typically only referencing their own anecdotal experience with the tech PR sector, too.
If you want to know why the communication you receive from PR practitioners in the tech sector is so bad, read Shel Israel. He lays out a pretty good guide for how the release should be used … was used in the “Golden Age in tech PR.” He also talks about what is wrong with tech PR today. His article makes sense to me.
Don’t blame the entire industry because some schmucks are not good practitioners and don’t recognize that broadcast of numerous releases is silly, today. It worked years ago. Today, it is folly. But don’t, I repeat – don’t – come blaming all the rest of us because you received a lame pitch or news release! And remember, a pitch isn’t a release. Hello?
OK. I feel better now. Thanks. I’m sure this is not over, but I had to get that off my chest.
Update: Someone asked, anonymously, that I further clarify the Blogs = Soma analogy. So, consider the thought leaders that brought Soma to society. While seeking to free everyone, they actually began demanding a rigid compliance with taking the Soma. Sometimes it seems that the blog enthusiasts demand adoption. While seeking to set everyone free – customers, stakeholders – they actually wind up trying to impose their ideal of blogging on everyone, regardless of whether they want to – or need to – be blogging. This isn’t true of all enthusiasts, but it is true of some.