Wednesday, December 3

Slashing PR: Dennis Howlett

He may have been a few weeks too late to match the launch date of the perfect sequel to Chris Anderson's original Halloween: The Night He Banned PR Flacks, but Dennis Howlett, who has provided comment and analysis for publications such as CFO Magazine, The Economist, and Information Week, still promises to cut a few to the bone. BOO! YOU’RE DEAD TO ME!

And who can blame him? Sure, there are plenty of good public relations professionals out there. But as industry growth seems to outpace industry education, one might wonder how many journalists it will take before the entire profession becomes ignored.

"In any one day I field up to 20 PR requests. I can guarantee that 90+% of them have done zero research to find out what I’m interested in," writes Howlett. "In the worst cases they won’t have done a basic Google search to find out who I am or where my interests lay. In 2008, that’s beyond unacceptable, it’s criminal."

It's also not public relations. It's media relations. But it's not really media relations. It's message placement services. In fact, it might even be message placement 2.0. And, right now, for a limited time, the hottest thing on the table seems to be that message placement 2.0 is looking past media to target the untapped masses of renewable social media participants as opposed to the shrinking pool of objective journalists. Do you still wonder why Howlett thinks the industry is regressing? He continues...

"In the 1990’s, good PRs could write a half reasonable press release that would at least be engaging. You would have thought that with the tsunami of material about social media that in 2008 the situation would have moved on. Sadly, no. If anything, the industry has regressed."

You see, Dennis, today's message placement 2.0 professionals already know it's all about the math. By following each other to inflate rankings, they can very easily demonstrate to an unsuspecting client just how successfully they can reach a greater readership online than the total combined circulation of the top five newspapers, with more "hits" to boot. Cool, eh?

How do they do it? Easy! Message placement 2.0 doesn't require any story writing skills whatsoever. Just replace journalists with other public relations pals and followers. After all, if everyone in your echo chamber is an ally, then you may never have to worry about the surprisingly few pros who sometimes serve as industry foils:

PR Watch
Valley Wag
Bad Pitch Blog
Collateral Damage

Sure, I know what some might be thinking. Message placement 2.0 doesn't do a thing for clients if flacks are simply passing pitches around to other flacks. However, let's face facts. It's a whole lot of fun to hang out with friends for $2,000 to $10,000 a month. The client will be even happier living in ignorant bliss. And the latest mantra "just be, online" can thrive as the advice du jour. Scared yet?

You will be. Come back tomorrow for a "no chills, just trauma" take on Matt Bacak!



Curse You Khan! on 12/3/08, 12:48 PM said...

i misread this and for a moment thought i was an industry troll. I would have liked that too.

Anonymous said...

probably help if i used a sig that actually identified me.

Rich on 12/3/08, 1:11 PM said...

Ha Constantine!

Twice as funny because you didn't. ;)

Sometimes I wonder if troll isn't in the eye of the beholder, until I remember the difference between a cynic and critic. You are definitely the latter, with the right amount of funny.

All the best,


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