Trackback, Schmackback :: The Bigger Story!

There was a little tiff between bloggers the other day. We’ll get to it in a bit.

The real story – the most telling bit of this whole story – is something off-topic that Steve Rubel let slip in the comments of the offending post.

He writes, “I don’t blog much on PR, you may have noticed. I’ll bore my readers.”

Are you as confused by that as I am?

It is remarkably telling since he had a tagline (when he posted that comment) that read, “Steve Rubel on how blogs and participatory journalism are impacting the practice of public relations.” (Wayback Machine. There are more recent caches, too.)

It now states, “Steve Rubel blogs on how blogging, podcasting and citizen journalism are impacting marketing communications.” Please note that he changed the tagline while the conversation in the comments thread was going on. So, blogs are persuasive in some instances.

Stuart Bruce has an interesting discussion of the flawed logic in Rubel’s supposed switch to Marcom as his main point of interest while claiming “I like to look at the broader picture…” Marcom is narrower. Marcom is the short-term (driving sales) offshoot of PR that avoids the longer strategic aspects of a campaign. In fact, many PR practitioners wouldn’t even call those campaigns. For definitions, check out this page at MarcomBlog.

Very confusing stuff from the PR Marcom uber-blogger.

Now, on to what sparked off all this talk about “trackbacks” on blogs.

Rubel accused Jeremy Pepper of trackback spam. He missed the point of Jeremy’s comment.

Jeremy was linking to an old post of his. The point was, “Steve, this meme is old.” I don’t call Pepper’s link a trackback. It was a point. A simple point. And one that was missed and blown all out of proportion.

Trackbacks. What are they? One definition is, “TrackBacks essentially provide a means whereby different web sites can post messages to one another not just to inform each other about citations, but also to alert one another of related resources.” Well, Jeremy was pointing to a related post? So, it could be a trackback. And it was related to the conversation. Plain and simple.

So, what to take way from all of this?

Steve Rubel does have great potential as a spokesperson for PR (or Marcom, whatever it is he’s doing these days). Sure, it is his choice to say, “Jeremy, it’s not my job to defend PR. I feel PR does need to change or it could die…”. I’m just wondering why he doesn’t want to write about PR. His firm says they do PR. It is the first thing they mention in their “Services” area.

As an advocate, Rubel could do a fine job of it if he just took the plunge. Seriously. But, I don’t really know anymore if this is Steve’s blog, or CK’s blog. If it is his, it has his name on it, then what is the reason for not taking stands? If it is CK’s, do they not want the risk of contrary opinions? Edelman tackles tough issues with grace. But, who would fire Edelman?

The most recent stands I can remember Steve taking are the trackback misunderstanding and the idea that blogs will replace press releases. He also touted a blog – turned pressroom – his client created to serve as an online pressroom. Steve writes, “My client built this site entirely using TypePad.” Um, it may be TypePad, but that pressroom might as well be a static page.

The thing is, our students last semester created better ones – and did it for free. Ouch! Ya’ see, his customer’s blog didn’t have RSS, didn’t have contact information and didn’t have an email opt-in/out function for people to subscribe to the feeds / releases. My students did in their’s. They used WordPress.

The funny thing about all of this?

Steve claims that Jeremy was seeking traffic. He doesn’t need it. Come on. This is all quite silly. Neither of them need it. That post has drawn more comment traffic than most of his recent posts. 23 comments and 3 trackbacks at last count. Steve should be sending Jeremy a thank you note.

Steve and Jeremy, the best thing would be for both of you to put the personal difference aside and focus on the goals. Steal a scene from the old Saturday Night Live.

You guys should launch a group blog. You can be “Jane” and say, “Jeremy, you pompous gasbag.” Jeremy can be Ackroyd and say, “Steve, you ignorant slut.”

Think of the readership! I’d trackback to it.


0 thoughts on “Trackback, Schmackback :: The Bigger Story!

  1. Steve Rubel

    Robert, thanks for noticing. I have been thinking about changing the tagline for awhile. I am still a card-carryinh public relations professional. No worries. However, I also talk a lot about online marketing – and I even speak at events in this industry as well. So, I am looking for a tagline that bridges all of these disciplines while also spanning all of the new technologies I write about. What I have come up with is “Steve Rubel explores how new technologies are transforming marketing, media and public relations.” Let me know what you think.

  2. Robert

    Steve, I think that works better. It certainly is a broader array of topics for your discussion.

    I’m glad you are moving beyond blogs to the broader “new technologies” and I’m glad you’re still going to write about public relations.

    Steve, I truly hope you will consider the visibility you’ve gained and use it for even greater good. When people make broad, over-simplified statements about PR, some of which I believe even you see as flawed (too simplistic), you can fill in the gray areas with reasoned expectations of these new technologies. People will listen to you.

    This isn’t just for PR – the industry, the discipline. It is also for all those in business/Gov’t/NGOs – who do read you. Some do not share an understanding of PR and appreciate the strategic requirements of a successful campaign. Some do not appreciate the breadth and depth of tactics and tools PR employs – beyond blogs.

    Many spotlights have been aimed at you. You have earned them through your work. The spotlight for reasoned and balanced PR commentary is there for the taking. Please take the podium.

  3. Jeremy Pepper

    The tagline is still misleading.

    The tagline should be “Steve Rubel blogs on blogging, podcasting and citizen journalism.”

    He’s used the Charles Barkley line enough times of not wanting to be the lead, but when you go on multiple speaking opportunities for yourself, push yourself as the spokesman, you have an obligation to provide more than just links, and provide commentary and advice and counsel.

    As I learned as an AAE, anyone can provide the questions, it’s the answers that are the hard part. It works well for blogs as well – any one can provide links, it’s providing counsel and commentary that’s the hard part.

  4. David Phillips

    Branching out from blogs and journalism into marcoms is an interesting hop but a long way from the whole nine yards of PR. I have a list of 40 different domains (types) of PR that people in the business sign up to. Several of them are ‘marcoms’ activities ( Just to confuse things, I am on the way to developing yet another approach which posits that PR has a process that creates value (and thereby wealth). Want to join in Steve? Robert? – David