Jeremy Pepper :: Telling It Like It Is

I’ll preface this with a language warning, should you follow the link. Sometimes strong language makes a point.

I am compelled to share a great post with you.

Jeremy Pepper has, once again, said what needs to be said. Oh, he may say it in a form that some find distasteful, but don’t many social critics do that?

Check his post. I initially commented, and want to share this follow up.

A comment came in from Shannon Paul. Her comment is a perfect example of local PR. “I spent half my day today working on putting press materials together for a local nonprofit organization that offers refuge for women and families that are victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.”

For the uneducated (and there seem to be a lot of them), the vast majority of PR is done locally. The vast majority of PR is done in areas and markets where online communication just won’t cut it. Most of these social media self-proclaimed gurus are so myopic in their focus, yet feel compelled to project their beliefs about online PR to the entire practice.

Using Shannon’s example, try doing that kind of work – or any other for local nonprofits, organizations, schools, businesses – and solely use online communication. In the vast majority of instances … You’d be negligent. You’d fail at due diligence. You’ll do your clients no favors.

It is the sheepish sycophants calling themselves gurus and such nonsense (primarily in the tech world) that wouldn’t know real PR if it was staring them in the face. They spend more time fawning over their blogroll circle-jerk friends than they do offering anything of value to the community.

I’m really sick of it. Evangelists for themselves. They make Elmer Gantry look like a good guy. If many of these social media gurus are true believers in anything, it is themselves.

In so many instances, if you meet or read someone that self-proclaims they are experts or gurus in social media … run! Run, fast … the other way! Be afraid. They serve only one master. Themselves.



0 thoughts on “Jeremy Pepper :: Telling It Like It Is

  1. Robert

    Thanks, Rick. Enjoyed the comment at TechCrunch, too.

    I’d love to see a more thoughtful and balanced view (one that even slightly hints at an understanding of PR overall) from that tech community. But, they tend to love the universal generalization. It is all about their world and their minimal PR interactions.

    I’m convinced they not only don’t understand broader PR practice, they don’t want to acknowledge it. Why? It requires rational thought. It gets in the way of their prejudices.

  2. Jeremy Pepper

    Plus, I got my War Eagle in there as well. There were things that I had thought of when writing the post, that I then didn’t put in there – but there’s so much more going on, the need to build smart relationships and targeted lists … all that plus just remembering that it’s PR. It’s not life and death.

    Thanks, and it’s only one swear word!

    And, Rick, I’m chopped liver?? No comment on my blog??

  3. Robert

    Thanks, Jeremy. We appreciate the War Eagle! you’ve given us so many times.

    “….and it’s only one swear word!” Ha! Well, you know … our tender southern sensitivities.

    There is much more to it, I agree. It is the myopia, and the apparent unwillingness to learn, that bothers me most.

  4. Shannon Paul

    Thanks, Robert, for including me in such good company!

    I thought it was necessary to bring up the good things that PR does to help in the community because there was another comment on Jeremy’s post that ignored what Jeremy had written altogether to simply dismiss PR as nothing but lies and greed. Needless to say, I get sick of people spouting that kind of ignorance, but I digress…

    I think you and Jeremy are right to indicate that it doesn’t make sense for every kind of outreach to incorporate a social media strategy and that PR does not begin and end with social media alone. The vast majority of people we’re trying to reach, especially at the local level, are just not on board yet with social media. That isn’t to say that the future might look different, but for now it’s important to have the right mix of tactics to meet the goals of the organization.

    Thanks again for the shout out!

  5. Terry Morawski

    My experience is primarily with public schools and yes, there is a true limit to how far social media can take you currently. We have experimented with several avenues, and currently blogging has met with the most traction. But, the average site visitor does not necessarily know that they were participating in a blog – only that they were allowed to comment on a policy. That is the powerful part, the true interchange between the organization and the stakeholders.
    To say that the same discussion at a Rotary Meeting or in a newsletter or an Op-Ed piece in the newspaper is worthless PR may make for good cocktail conversation, but it’s simply not the truth. A modern PR approach needs to be as diverse as its intended audience.

  6. Stephen Davies

    Hi Robert,

    I’d like to just say ‘amen’.

    I was feeling the same when I cobbled my latest blog post together this morning. Man, some of these so called gurus really get my goat – they’re so insular looking.

    But, Robert, it’s been this way in the three years I’ve been blogging. Will it ever change? Will these gurus suddenly realize, “Oh yeah, we actually know very little about the PR profession and what you guys do on a day-to-day basis. We’re sorry.”

    Is it just a link baiting tactic because they know there’s a large online community of us? Not that Arrington needs it of course but he does like to create a fuss.

    While I’m here. Another thing that gets to me are these PR bloggers who think, because they’ve written three or four posts about the Social Media News Release (SMNR), they’re experts on the topic.

    They’ve never built an actual SMNR platform and had to deal with all the technical issues that come with bringing the product to market. They’ve never created an actual SMNR and distributed it. They’ve never spoke with numerous journalists and bloggers about their likes and dislikes of the platform itself. They’ve never distributed an SMNR on behalf of a number of FTSE100 and Fortune 500 companies.

    No, but they suddenly consider themselves experts because they put together a couple of well thought out blog posts about on the topic.

    Sorry, that last rant was probably a little more personal.

    Great post!

  7. Robert

    Whew, go away for the afternoon and come back to comments. Thank you all.

    @Shannon: Thank you, Shannon. Enjoyed your comment and your blog, too. PR does do good things for people. It is all too easy for the critics to use anecdotal bad behaviour from a small set and apply the blame universally. That, too, is one aspect of the sycophant evangelists that has bothered me for so long. I appreciate what you add to the community and the conversation, Shannon.

    @Patrick: Thanks, Patrick. Well, if it was a bit harsh, that’s one reason I didn’t name names. My anger, yep – anger, stems from watching this cacophony of self-appointed know-it-alls cough up their pontifications … and the herd of sheep that follow right along.

    @Terry: Thank you, Terry. PA/PR work for education is likely one of the largest examples of practitioners (if not the single largest) in the world. Why the evangelists and critics fail to recognize the broader scope of PR practice … I don’t know. As you say, so well, “A modern PR approach needs to be as diverse as its intended audience.” Thanks for sharing the sanity.

    @Stephen: Great to hear from you, Stephen. Thanks. Oh, as for Arrington and his ilk, you will note that he rarely (if ever) engages in these conversations outside of his own site – especially outside his little circle-jerk group. Ah, but he’s more than comfortable when critiquing any and all in PR. Is it just me, or do others note his penchant for using the broad universal brushes and anecdotal faux evidence? His myopic view of the world is well documented. The same is true for that bevy of other self-proclaimed “thought leaders” … just writing that made me a bit nauseous. I can empathize with your feelings about the SMR, too. I imagine that does irk you, too. Just keep up the great work you’re doing, Stephen. I’m a fan.

    (Ah, see Patrick. Now I’ve named a name. Well, it is a tough world, I guess. Do I think it will have an effect upon any of them and bring a bit of honest researching before they write and speak? No, sadly – no. When these people can see beyond their own backyard, then perhaps we’ll get some rational thought out of them.)

  8. Jeremy Pepper

    @Stephen – Bravo. I have the same issues and questions and problems with the SMR, and the fact that just good writing is ignored.

    News that is news worthy will get picked up. There’s a reason that press releases are on the top of TechMeme so often.

    Sometimes I’m tired enough to hang up my blog, and just get on with other things. Other times, tho, I remember that there needs to be altruists in blogging that are in it to help others, not themselves.

  9. Christine Smith

    Yesterday, I listened to 16 students report on how their internships were going at a variety of Toronto-based organizations, many of which are non profits.

    How are they spending their days? Interviewing employees and writing feature articles for print and online publications, updating media lists, editing annual reports, writing news releases and (when asked) advising these organizations about how Web 2.0 applications might help their communications efforts.

    Many of my students do all their blog writing and reading on their own time and hope their organizations catch up to them in terms of Web 2.0.

  10. Robert

    Christine, excellent! Thanks for sharing your students’ experiences. A reminder that all of this is oh, so new. It also highlights the breadth of PR practice. Activities that can’t be transferred to social media or online, yet, for so many local organizations and businesses.

    I also love the realization that students become teachers with regard to emerging digital media.

    Thanks for coming by, Christine. I continue to enjoy your blog – CorpComm, too.


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