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Archives: May 2008

Closing A Well-Known Watering Hole? Make A Documentary

(Outside Siberia: know the red light, or you may miss it)

Siberia, the mid-town Manhattan cave (read: bar) that served as a popular meet up spot for media folk, among others, has been closed since September 2007. Now the promo train is in full swing surrounding the documentary, Life After Dark: The Story of Siberia Bar.

Some choice PR-related quotes from Noelle Hancock‘s New York magazine story on the launch party:

“The first time I went down into the basement I thought, How can there not be a body down there?” said author and book publicist Sloane Crosley. “It looked like Silence of the Lambs.”

Says former Page Six reporter Ian Spiegelman, “It’s where I went to forget that earlier that day I showed up to cover a party for Freddie Prinze Jr. and Freddie Prinze Jr.’s publicist told me that he wasn’t doing interviews.”

This PRNewser actually played the dive bar once with his band, and was told not to put up a flier outside the door. “But my un-hip friends won’t know how to find it,” I told the door man. “No fliers,” he sternly responded. In the New York bar/restaurant scene, sometimes the best PR is no PR.

Mediabistro Course

Mediabistro Job Fair

Mediabistro Job FairLand your next big gig! Join us on January 27 at the Altman Building in New York City for an incredible opportunity to meet with hiring managers from the top New York media companies, network with other professionals and industry leaders, and land your next job. Register now!

Should PRSA Scold McClellan?


Former BusinessWeek senior writer, and current freelancer Gary Weiss thinks so. Weiss took a look at the PRSA code of ethics, which includes a statement on honesty.

He says, “I realize that violating the PR ethics code [the way Scott McClellan apparently did] is spitting on the sidewalk compared to the felonies of lying to the American people about Iraq and Katrina…but it seems to me that the PR profession, if it wants to take this code of ethics seriously, needs to take a stand in a high-visibility case like this.”

Former Philadelphia Housing Authority PR pro Bob Alotta writes in a letter to the editor in the Washington Post, “The ethical code of the Public Relations Society of America also decries knowingly presenting falsehoods as fact. In the final analysis, McClellan is more culpable than the people he represented. I only hope that no self-respecting organization will hire him as spokesman.”

PRSA was not available for comment prior to the time of this post.

Burson-Marsteller Creates Middle East Network

Global PR powerhouse Burson-Marsteller has merged with Asda’a, an agency with 160 employees and 11 offices across the Middle East, to create a merged regional network.

Burson parent company, WPP Group has already made a majority investment in The Holding Group (THG), which Asda’a is a part of. The merged business will be renamed Asda’a Burson-Marsteller

Burson-Marsteller CEO and former Clinton strategist Mark Penn commented in a statement, “I am proud that Burson-Marsteller continues to expand our network into even more places around the globe.”

UPDATE: Asda’a had previously been an Edelman affiliate. They are still listed on Edelman’s website.

Get Your Learn On


Looking to brush up on your skills during the slower summer months? Check out these upcoming mediabistro PR courses, including one on social media being taught by yours truly:

Intro to Public Relations
(7/24, Online)
What you need to know to get your foot in the door

Intermediate Public Relations (7/10, Online)
How to create annual PR plans, master media interviews, and analyze results

Social Media for PR Professionals
(7/9, New York)
Learn how to integrate social media into your PR and marketing strategy

PR Lessons from the Emily Gould Cover Story Saga


Being the last of the blogs to write about the NY Times magazine cover story penned by former Gawker, and current Galleycat blogger Emily Gould, we’re taking a different tack.

Are you in PR? You have something in common with the tat-clad blogstress. If you have ever emailed a blogger, put your name on a press release, or blogged under your own name you are in a sense, a public figure. It’s an important change (and not all that new) in our industry and it’s critical to understand it.

The new rules of engagement are there are no rules. A blogger or even a mainstream journalist can paste your name in a story whether you like it or not. This is a good thing as long as you know when and where to respond. The best thing to do now is to read the classic Fast Company story “The Brand Called You” and start gently steering your own brand toward the type of PR you want to do.

To illustrate the spectrum of personal exposure online, Gould relates a story illustrated by cutlery on a table, where people without Google traces are the fork on one end, and the ubiquitous Julia Allison are the spoon at the other extreme. It’s getting harder for PR people to be the fork. The full excerpt of the example is pasted after the jump:

Read more

Shoot the Messenger: Special Scott McClennan Edition

In this very special edition of Shoot the Messenger, the “fury” over former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan‘s “revelations” have created an all-out old-tymey Texas gun fight, with wartime Bushies all following the talking points (see CBS Evening News clip above) saying this is not the Scott they knew.

Well yeah. The communications strategy of the time was to take the #1 most credible person in the administration (Colin Powell) and put him in front of the U.N. to talk WMD. Are people really surprised the person 100% responsible delivering whatever he was told had misgivings about the decision to go to war?

McClellan’s predecessor Ari Fleisher claimed to be “stumped and stunned” on CBS, and “heartbroken” on NPR by these revelations.

McClellan’s Texas toast was buttered by Bush for many years, so we assume his advance was pretty hefty on this book to start doing his own shooting. According to sibling blog Galleycat, his What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception popped to #1 on the Amazon list, probably because no one can get their hands on it in traditional bookstores.

Apparently even fake journalists/prostitutes can Shoot the Messenger too. Jeff Gannon, a.k.a. “Bulldog” also “questions” McClellan’s credibility.

As they say in publishing, we’ll see if this book has any sell-through. We suspect its just a brief drive-by.

The Ticker: Tribune, Pfizer, Saying No…

Press Releases: Do Yours Get an A?

We all write them, even if we sometimes question their effectiveness.

Hubspot has released a new tool to help us with this process, called Press Release Grader, which, according to them:

…evaluates your press release and provides a marketing effectiveness score. This score is based upon basic factors from public relations experts including the language and content of the release, plus advanced factors from Internet marketing experts such as links and search engine optimization characteristics.

Says HubSpot Chief Software Architect & Founder Dharmesh Shah, “Press Release Grader will not make your press releases more interesting — but it will hopefully give you some quick tips for getting more value out of them.”


The Feedback Kickback

Everyone is a publisher now, not just media companies. Nothing new there.

But what do people, companies and the media value when they create new blogs, micro-sites, online communities, etc?


Feedback can mean many things, whether it’s comments, link love, web traffic, etc. This is valuable, to show that your initiatives have traction or engagement among certain targeted audiences. But what happens when your feedback gets captured only on a “third party” aggregator site?

This happening more and more as discussions occur in places like Friendfeed and not in the places where content orginiates. Union Square Ventures VC Fred Wilson has this to say, “…the people who create social media content; the bloggers, the twitterers, the commenters, the youtubers, the flickrers, etc, etc are doing this for a reason. Feedback. And without their content, none of these companies would have a business.”

By “these companies,” Wilson is referring to Friendfeed and Twitter, among others. Now, Wilson does have somewhat of a vested interest, given that he has invested in Disqus, the third party comment system, which tracks user’s comments across all sites, and would like to see engagement and conversation occur where content originates, and not on aggregator sites.

However he has also invested in Twitter, which he says is, “part of the problem.”

What does this have to do with PR, you say? Well, as Chris Anderson told us at the recent Mediabistro Circus conference, “community is easy to say, hard to do.”

Howard Kurtz Helping Wife’s PR Clients?


Writes Jacque Steinberg in today’s NY Times:

When Howard Kurtz invited Kimberly Dozier, the CBS journalist wounded in Iraq, onto his program, “Reliable Sources,” on CNN on Sunday, he was not a disinterested interviewer. Mr. Kurtz’s wife, Sheri Annis, had been paid to serve as a publicist for Ms. Dozier’s memoir, “Breathing the Fire,” which Ms. Dozier had come on the program to discuss.

To be fair, Kurtz did mention the connection, adding towards the end of the segment, “I should mention that my wife has done some promotion work for Kim Dozier’s book.”

TVNewser reports, “Kurtz did say he asked his producers first, who suggested the interview move forward as long as a ‘disclaimer’ was used.”