Amen to Trevor Cook

Reading Analysing Scoble and Israel on PR and Will a Scoble link make you a PR Genius? today made me want to scream “Amen! Can we get this man a witness.”

I’ll give witness.

Amen! Thank you, Trevor.

I wish every PR blogger felt this way. Truly do.

Sadly, too many see the ‘circular’ nature of back-patting and stroking as the path to glory. Sad, very sad.

Blogs are tactics, or tools. It seems that too many ‘tools‘ are blogging and think being in the circle is doing PR.

Scoble, from everyone I’ve spoken with and knows him, is a very nice person. He is truly goodhearted. Israel? I have no idea. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. This isn’t about Scoble or Israel. It is about the idea of blogs and PR. Their philosophies are skewed. The book, as it appears now, is shaping up to be an empty tomb for the ‘do not read’ list. And, yes, I meant ‘tomb’ and not ‘tome’ as I do not see this as a scholarly effort.

It is about the bloggers that see ‘getting in the circle’ as being some sort of accomplishment. It is cliquish. It is a Facebook mentality.

I can just see it now. The bloggers that get mentioned in the book will send around links to, or quotes from, the book to bolster their reputation. They will show it as proof of their prowess. That, too, is sad.

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0 thoughts on “Amen to Trevor Cook

  1. Pingback: Marketing Begins At Home

  2. Robert

    Hey David,
    I think perhaps you protest too quickly. So, I will expand my thoughts here.

    My point is that the blog-hype is overflowing. I don’t see you raving about yourself in your blog. And, I didn’t even mention you in my post. In fact, I wasn’t even thinking about you when I posted.

    In the chapter in question, some of the ‘best practices’ illustrated don’t even point to the originators of the ideas. Vespa’s program and Microsoft’s? Where is the recognition of Marqui, who was vilified for doing the very same thing that Vespa and Microsoft are doing. Steve Rubel wrote of the practice as being ‘tainted’, for crying out loud.

    Now, he’s held up as a best practice? Please.

    There is more to the circular nature of this discussion than just the self-promotion. There is the lack of recognition for those that developed a practice first – and were vilified for it – only to now have people proclaiming it as a new great idea. McConnell and Huba’s book may have been an inspirational point, but Marqui did it first (successfully) in blogs. And, they did it with more guts. Their bloggers are in their own blogs. That takes great confidence in your product. Where is Vespa’s confidence? Where is Rubel’s confidence in the project? It is old school PR trying to control the message, yet use the tactic. That’s ok, but call it what it is.

    Your work is great, David. I’ve pointed my students to it. I have referenced it to groups I’ve spoken to, as well. At best, there may be a small handful (OK, maybe two handfuls) of truly inspired and successful business/PR blog initiatives out there today. Your work is one example. But, where are the others? So, why all the hype? I honestly think there are more blog consultants than there are business blogs.

    I keep seeing references to blogs and their saviour-like qualities – how they will replace PR. That’s just nuts. Blogs are tools. They are tactics. Anyone that says otherwise is, to me, seemingly drunk on Koolaid.

    David, there is self-promotion (which some people must do because they’re in business) and there is shameless self-promotion … which no one needs to do. Now, don’t we both recognize that there are more than a few ‘shameless self-promoters’ out there?

    I don’t want to hold the ‘shameless self-promoters’ up to my students as role models. Would you? We can look at each individual and weed out what (in their work, PR practices) are good ideas and applications of PR practice. But, this is not one of them.

    By the way, this isn’t a backlash. I’ve been thinking and feeling this for quite awhile. 😉

    All the best.


  3. Robert Scoble

    Just wanted to clear something up. Microsoft isn’t paying independent bloggers to blog like the way Marqui did.

    >Blogs are tools. They are tactics. Anyone that says otherwise is, to me, seemingly drunk on Koolaid.

    I think that’s why my style of blogging has gotten so much attention. I blogged for myself far before all the hype hit and I’d still blog even if all the hype went away.

    For me they aren’t just tactics. They are how I share my life with you.

    I don’t think you’ve discovered yet why they are powerful and quite different than, say, a press release.
    You can’t put together a committee to do a Scobleizer.

    And, does it work?

    Last night I had dinner with Brad Meador, Vice President of Operations for ClearContext. He said that when I linked to him last week they got more visits than they received in the past month.

    Buzz Bruggeman, CEO of ActiveWords, reports that when I linked to ActiveWords they got about 400 downloads. When a famous national newspaper gave them a five-star review they got 32.

    Also, if I link to someone generally they’ll get a Google PageRank of four or five, which will put them above 95% of the rest of the Web. (Look at what happened to the law firm my brother works at once I linked to them, went from not found on first five pages to #1 result).

  4. Robert French


    Microsoft isn’t paying bloggers? OK, not with dollars. But, let’s be honest. Just being selected for your blogging initiative will have a tremendous windfall for the selected bloggers. So, in a way, you are ‘paying them’ with greater visibility. Also, by selecting them, the 3rd party endorsement is powerful. So, there are rewards. Marqui did not have the aura of Microsoft. Vespa is paying their bloggers (in a way) – with perks/giveaways. You’re giving them the software in advance. So, there are similarities.

    All that being said, you’re both doing essentially the same thing as Marqui – having users blog about the product(s).

    I recognize the positive characteristics of blogs. Their personal conversational style is powerful and effective – when done well. Your blogging style is one excellent example.

    However, the reality that you blog for Microsoft cannot be lost in analyzing why you are the icon you’ve become in the blogosphere. It has certainly played a part. I believe it has played a large part, but not the only reason.

    Honestly. Do you think that you’d be so wildly popular in the blogosphere if you were doing the same thing for Marqui? or an ice cream company? Your good natured personality and personable, conversational style aside, I’m skeptical. I hope you would be successful, but I don’t think it would come anywhere close to the acclaim you’ve achieved today.

    Please don’t get me wrong. You were the right fit for the Microsoft blogger role. You’ve made it work very well. Not anyone could have pulled that off. I’m not suggesting that in even the slightest way.

    Still, when someone is chosen by, and promoted by, one of the world’s largest corporations, it helps. Particularly, in your case, you are doing this for ‘the‘ tech company. And, it is one with image issues, so your effort naturally receives more attention. I applaud you for being in the hot seat and doing an excellent job. But, still – you had a big head start on anyone that might attempt this for another company.

    I don’t, and I dont’ think anyone does, dispute the value of a link from an A-list site/blog and the boost it may provide to your traffic and visibility. That’s good. But, it is still just a part of the larger mix. Every company is different. Some don’t need the internet to succeed and flourish. Yes, they should monitor it to see what people are saying about them.

    Let’s look at the sites you list (aside from your brother’s law firm). They are tech oriented. Sure it works to help them. Now, as to Google ranking – anybody that says they wouldn’t want a link from you is either a liar or a fool – or both. Sure, it works in Google and in the blogosphere. But, where else? Sure, there are people that will use your blog to find story ideas. OK. So, there is a bit of a difference here, isn’t there?

    Finally, you suggest that a blog can replace a press release. You write:

    I don’t think you’ve discovered yet why they are powerful and quite different than, say, a press release.

    You can’t put together a committee to do a Scobleizer.

    Hmm? Well, something about that just doesn’t ring … nice. But, I’ll let it go since I’ve heard, from people I respect, that you are a kind and good person. 😉

    In chapter six, you write that “Consultants are important to blogging…“. That sounds like a group effort (committee) to me. Collaboration and consultation is good – if done well and basic principles of transparency are followed. Surely you’re not saying that all you’ve accomplished with the Scobleizer blog is only due to yourself? I can remember times you’ve written your thanks to all those who have advised and counseled you. You aren’t saying ‘Woo Hoo! Look at what I did”, are you? No, I didn’t think so.

    Your point – that blogs can be “powerful and quite different” from press releases is easy to say. It is a generalization, though. Easy to prove in isolated cases. Are you going to use a blog in place of all press releases? No. Neither will Microsoft. Point to ‘a‘ blog with a successful track record and, OK – a blog can work. Your’s does. However, talk about ‘blogs’ in general and you’re going to have a very difficult time with holding on to legitimacy. They will not accomplish everything your claim might imply for all people, businesses and NGOs.

    Press releases will be around long after you and I are dead and gone. They are a tool. They serve their purposes. And, I’ll bet you that there are plenty of committees watching (even developing) blogs. Robert, I think you and I know that there are likely committees of people watching you at Microsoft. 😉

  5. Robert Scoble

    Good points. One thing, I was a pretty popular blogger before coming to Microsoft. Dave Winer, for instance, had linked to me hundreds of times before I was hired here (and I worked for Dave too). My geek dinners were well attended even back then.

    Yes, getting hired by Microsoft poured fuel onto the fire. Plus, I now have something to point my camcorder at.

    Personally, press releases are overused. But that’s just me.

    Regarding consultants: there’s a diffference between education and doing. Most of the blogging consultants are educating. At least the ones I respect are. If they are doing all the work, then it quickly becomes apparent that someone not involved in the work is doing the writing. It’s too hard to fake this stuff everyday.

  6. Robert

    Thanks, Robert. I appreciate the conversation.

    I realize that you were quite well known before going to Microsoft. And it is well deserved. That’s not baseless smoke blowing, either.

    Yeah, press releases are probably overused by many. I won’t argue with you on that.

    And, as for consultants that are doing education. Well, I’m all for that and agree with you. They are the best.

    Thanks again. And, if you happen to see this and are willing to check back, we’d love to have you visit the students blogging this summer in Auburn PR Blog. They’d get such a kick out of that. You’d make their day.

    The students are doing their final senior projects and blogs are playing a large role.

    One of the things they’ll be creating? An online newsroom and much more for an entire school system. There are other projects, too.

  7. Peter Himler

    I believe the jury is still out on how blogs will figure in the mix of tools in the PR person’s toolbox. Their contribution to the transparency of an enterprise certainly cannot be underestimated. And transparency is a very good thing nowadays. But as Scoble has demonstrated in his work for Microsoft, corporate-“sanctioned” blogs have to be earnest and not contrived. It seems so many PR blogs are calling for companies to get on the blogging bandwagon. I suspect that some of this is self-serving, e.g., as a means to generate consulting revenue. I’d be curious to see how one quantifies the financial or reputational impact a CEO or corporate insider’s blog has on his or her enterprise.

  8. Robert

    Hey Peter,

    Yep, I have to agree with you … the jury is out.

    The ROI on blogging is one area I’m looking forward to hearing from all these consultants as to how well it really does work.

    Fairly, we must accept that it is all so new. So, the jury will probably remain out on that for quite awhile.

  9. Peter Himler

    One of the biggest challenges we face in PR is measuring the business impact of what we do. Viscerally, when I read that Boeing is allowing pilots and flight engineers to post comments on its new 777 aircraft (via a blog), I know this is a good thing. And certainly we’re all cognizant of the impact the political bloggers have had on the political dialogue. But quantifying the impact the “10-15,000” blogging employees of Microsoft has on the company’s fortunes, for example — isn’t that the number you shared at the BDI Conference? — remains a challenge that needs to be addressed. (I wonder how their time spent crafting their blogs affects their productivity?) Smile.