What do the freaking tech bloggers want?

UPDATE: if you are a PR person and you are reading this blog, any vitriol aimed at the PR industry is NOT aimed at you. Probably. :-)

I remember working at a small tech startup back in the mid 1990s. Winnov. We made video capture cards and videoconferencing solutions. I was the director of marketing and I used to think that if only Walt Mossberg or Dan Gillmor (who back then was the tech journalist at the San Jose Mercury News) or some other big-name journalist would pay attention to us that we’d have it made.

Eventually I realized that wasn’t going to happen, for a whole lot of reasons, but that it didn’t matter. We still had a lot of very happy customers and they seemed to find us through word-of-mouth and other efforts (we had booths at the big trade shows and I hung out in forums and Usenet newsgroups and went on radio shows, and built relationships with people who did video streaming and stuff like that). Not getting their attention made me focus and come up with innovative ways to get the word out about our products. Same thing I did at NEC, which is what led to me selling Vic Gundotra hundreds of Tablet PCs at Microsoft (and later getting a job there). Vic didn’t find me in the Wall Street Journal, he found me in an obscure newsgroup online.

Over the past few days there’s been a consternation about the future of PR. Mostly based on my rant about PR the other day and how it’s so refreshing to hear about a new company from its users first, especially when those users are very excited about the product.

Here’s just a small selection of the blogs I’ve seen talking about PR and bloggers in the past day or two:

Steve Rubel (Vice President at Edelman, which is the largest private PR firm in the world) talks about how dismayed he’s been at the PR industry lately.

Mike Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, talks about how dismayed he’s been at the PR industry lately.

Brian Solis, who is one of the few PR people who builds relationships first with everyone in the industry (it’s hard to remember the last industry event where Brian wasn’t holding court and if you’re a tech blogger and you haven’t yet met Brian you probably haven’t been blogging for more than a week or two), stands up for the PR industry (and links to pretty much everyone who is writing about this today).

Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins, in Mashable, says Rubel is onto something.

Jeremy Toeman, who I don’t think of as a PR guy, but rather something else (he’s the only guy that I know of who has gotten other people in the industry to work in a food bank, for instance) also stood up for PR in the comment section of the blog post I wrote the other day.

Jeremy Pepper writes “STFU” to bloggers in his headline, which also sticks up for the PR industry.

There’s a few others talking about this topic that are linked to here on TechMeme.

Why so much noise, both pro and con, about the current state of PR?

I’ve been blogging very little over the past month. I wanted to get off of the Techmeme bandwagon and take a fresh look at what I, and FastCompanyTV are doing. This latest blowup also got me to look at which PR practicioners I find are good for the industry and which ones are bad.

Why so much negativity on PR lately? A few reasons:

1. PR people had gotten wise to how to get their stories onto Techmeme, which made us all look like sheep. We not only were writing the same stories everyone else was, because that’s how you get onto Techmeme, but the PR people were figuring out how to work us into that circle jerk, so they could get their messages out to the world. That is opposite to how life was four years ago back when I worked at Microsoft. Back then most PR people couldn’t spell blog and didn’t know what they were. I’m to blame for helping them figure it out, because we wrote a book about corporate blogging that a lot of them have read. I’ll burn in hell for doing that, I think, if we can’t find a new way to serve the industry better than we are currently.
2. Company after company came to us who weren’t building sustainable businesses that cared about real customers. They only cared about whether they could get onto Techmeme or whether bloggers or “social media experts” would write about them. I feel like I’m just a new social media press release conduit and, while that’s building pretty sustainable businesses over at some other tech blogs, it isn’t what I started writing a blog for. More on that in a second.
3. Bloggers are being commoditized. If we just go to press conferences, or only deal with embargoed news, and report on the same news everyone else is reporting on, well, then, just what reason is there for our business to exist? How will we build an audience that’s any different, than, say, TechCrunch or Fortune’s or ZDNet’s efforts? How will we justify to our sponsors that they should sponsor us as we are doing the same thing as everyone else? Especially if we have a smaller audience? Yeah, advertisers really love getting THOSE kinds of sales pitches. Imagine walking into a big company and putting up a Powerpoint that says “we’re the same as Techcrunch, but smaller.” What’s the chances you’ll walk out with a sponsorship?
4. We aren’t having fun (as Rubel says, discovering new stuff is fun, getting new stuff fed to you at conferences and press conferences where everyone else learns the same news at the same time isn’t nearly as fun) while fun isn’t a good reason to do much, following my heart got me here and if you aren’t having fun as a blogger your writing, reporting, etc will suffer and you’ll start generally just being a jerk. Not to mention if you want to compete with people who do love what they are doing you’ll need to be keeping up at 2 a.m. and if you aren’t loving what you are doing you’ll turn on the Olympics instead and not get the job done. Most tech bloggers love being able to tell you about something cool that you don’t yet know about. Read Engadget, for instance. Their best writing is when they are showing you a new gadget that they found on their own. Yes we all read them for their coverage of Apple Press Conferences but I can tell you that isn’t nearly as fun as walking around with some product designer and getting a first look at a really new product (I was there when Ryan Block got his first look at Bug Labs’ prototypes).
5. We’re all looking for a breakthrough idea or product and they are just very rare. Look at Microsoft’s latest photographic technologies as an example. Now, look at my “to blog” folder, which has 5,000 items in it. How many get close to something as cool? Not many. If we only wrote about Photosynth, though, our blogs would be pretty damn sparse. So we’re faced with writing about stuff that doesn’t come up to that bar. It makes us anxious, because we want to tell our friends (er, you, about cool stuff). Like, have I shown you the Shazam iPhone app yet? It’s very cool, it lets you identify music you hear in a shopping mall or on the radio and it works pretty darn well. But for every Shazam, or Evernote, or Twinkle, there are tons of really stupid apps and if we want to tell you about more than 20 apps we’re going to have to dig into some really lame apps.

“Scoble, you’re rambling, why did you get into blogging?”

Oh, sorry. I got into blogging to celebrate the people who are improving our lives through technology and to hear their stories about how they developed it, so that we’d encourage other developers to bring us even more useful technologies.

Scratch that. I got into blogging because Dori Smith and Dave Winer wanted to know what was happening behind the scenes while working at a computer magazine/conference company.

Back when I started blogging I was helping plan a conference for programmers. I just told stories about what I was seeing and hearing and who was doing cool stuff. No one in PR told me about stuff, I just talked about what I was seeing. As my audience grew, more and more PR people started pitching me stuff. They started seeing me as a gatekeeper. The way I looked at those old-school journalists like Mossberg and Pogue and others.

I remember being flattered by the first wave of PR. When Munjal Shah, CEO of Like.com, told me he’d rather have me write about his company than have Walt Mossberg write about it, I was flattered but remembered telling him that Mossberg was still more important (and still is, in my view).

But that was flattering because only a few CEOs were like Munjal and I think he was pulling a little flattery on me to get me to pay attention. And, he knew that doing a different style of PR would get him noticed. It did, too. He now has millions of users and has been on MSNBC and CNN (he told me later that those brought huge numbers of users to his service).

“Scoble, you’re rambling again, get to the point. What is it that tech bloggers want?”

In the early days of blogging I wanted to do a few things:

1. Impress Dave Winer and Dori Smith.
2. Get stuff into Google so I could pull it out later.
3. Share what I was seeing because I had access to unique people and technology that the mainstream press wasn’t writing about.

Today I still write for these reasons, but I’d add on some more:

4. Get more people access to interesting experiences. It’s impossible to have 100,000 people visit Facebook’s headquarters and have a tour, for instance, but it’s very possible to have that many participate in a live cell phone tour.
5. Help us get more out of the technology that we’re all seeing. There are about 800 services on the Office 2.0 database. How many of those have you actually used? For most people? None. For most of my readers? I’d guess about five. Out of 800. So, can I increase that to seven? By showing you a demo of something that would improve your life (and mine?) I know I’m using Evernote now because of a demo I got a few weeks ago, for instance.
6. Learn from thought leaders on how to improve our lives. That’s why I’ve had people like David Allen and Tim Ferriss and why I want to get Gina Trapani from Lifehacker onto my shows. They show you a different way to live and how to deal with our changing lives.

“So, Scoble, what do these things have to do with PR?”

Well, the smart PR people (like Solis and Toeman) bring me into experiences like these. I still remember when Toeman hosted a dinner for a small group of us, including Dave Winer, where he and a guy I didn’t know showed me a prototype of what became Bug Labs. That was PR. But it was personal, small, and wasn’t aimed at getting 60 journalists to tell the same story to each of their audiences. At that point he didn’t care if he got Bug Labs onto Techmeme. Just wanted to talk about where the product might go and wanted to get feedback.

Hey, PR 2.0 includes listening!

Now I’m getting to where I’m getting fed up with a large swath of PR and why you’re seeing such vitriol aimed toward PR people.

See, some of them (er, most of them) are treating bloggers as just “channels of message distribution.” We’re there to take the news they are pitching and regurgitate it and spit it at all of you.

That exercise it totally not interesting. For all the reasons I’ve gone over here. It doesn’t let me figure out my own take on the story. It doesn’t let me hear from customers who are wildly happy. It doesn’t let me even figure out if the product works (many of those kinds of stories are pitched to bloggers who don’t even have any expertise in what they are pitching). Here, do another exercise. Let’s assume that StackOverflow was pitched to me by a PR company in an email. Would it have gotten coverage here? No. It doesn’t let me really find my own voice, or build an audience that’s any different than anyone else on Google Reader or TechMeme.

First off, why would I write about yet another Digg copycat? Second of all, how would I know that the community there really is good and has some unique aspects? Third of all, how would I really know that it solves real pain, the way that StackOverflow does?

“OK, Scoble, wrap it up. What are some things that you tech blogger types want from PR?”

1. What we really want is an exclusive interview with Steve Jobs. Oh, OK, we’re not going to get that. So, can we get an exclusive with Jonathan Ives? Oh, OK, we’re not going to get that either. :-) (PR teams tell me that handing out an exclusive like that will only be done for journalists with the largest audiences). Well, OK, but let’s see if we can find a different angle on the same topic. When I traveled to Israel with Sarah Lacy I noticed she made plans to interview the same people I did, but she interviewed them alone so she got a different story than I did. Now compare to what you see on TechMeme. How many people get the same story about the same thing. PR people are doing themselves a disservice when they just treat journalists and bloggers like cattle. Every time I get an email pitch it reminds me that I’m being treated like cattle. Especially when I get together with Arrington and Malik and Lacy and other bloggers and we see that we got the same pitch. Moooooo!

2. I want to see some passion about building a great service for customers that solves their pain. I don’t want to hear about how they are hoping I write about them. That turns me (and others) off. I still remember when my brother asked Dave Winer for a link and Dave got very angry at him. Why is that? Because Dave wanted my brother to give him a reason to link without having to beg for the link. Bring me a customer that says “XYZ product solved this need and transformed my life” and that’ll get my attention. It’ll get even more attention when that customer calls me and wants to talk about you and your service. Why? Because it tells me that the company is focused on the right thing. Watch what Don MacAskill, CEO of SmugMug does. I remember the first time I met him because he didn’t want me to write about his company. He just started talking about customers and why he loved doing what he’s doing. I later learned that he had more than 100,000 people who paid for his service when his competitors, like Flickr, are free. THAT got my attention and it made me want to learn more about the company and the service.

3. If you really have a killer product and a killer service I don’t care how you get ahold of me. Call me day or night at +1-425-205-1921. Email me at scobleizer@gmail.com. Or camp out on my front lawn. It doesn’t matter. If you are as good as SmugMug, I’ll make time for you. If you are a me too product, though, that doesn’t solve a real problem or doesn’t thrill its customers, I’ll see through that and I’ll be less likely to call. Some exceptions? I hate Facebook and Twitter direct messages. I can’t answer those, so don’t even try.

4. Don’t call us (especially me) if you want to get on TechMeme and that’s your main goal. First of all, my TechMeme juice is going down because I’m writing less and less. So if that’s your goal I can already tell you haven’t done your homework (Mike Arrington is the first guy I’d call if that was my goal). But what do other tech bloggers want? Well, even Arrington (who does like getting on TechMeme) tells me he’d rather get there because he found a kick ass company or product before anyone else.

5. For those of us who are on the TechMeme game we MUST be in the first group. That’s how this game works. That’s why Arrington won’t cover you if you don’t let him be in the first set of people to talk about you. But don’t assume that we’re all playing the TechMeme game. I’m a video guy. I want to have an intimate look at your company/product/people. We can do that days, weeks, or even months after you ship. My Evernote video, for instance, was done long after they first launched. I still got excited because the people I hang out with were praising it on blogs and twitters and I wanted to get a good look for myself (I’m a visual learner, I don’t often get the point of a product just by reading about it on TechCrunch).

6. Don’t just pitch the product. When I first heard about FriendFeed I thought “so what, Jaiku and Social Thing do the same thing.” But then I found out that two of the founders were the guys who ran the Gmail and Google Maps teams. Now my expectations went way up (and, sure enough, that service has delivered huge value to me). If you have an interesting person working for you, let me know.

7. Video bloggers need different things than text bloggers. When I do a text blog often times I can just sit on a conference call, pull out a quote, and write up the news. But if you want to get me to put you on video it really helps if you think a little bit about the visual. Don’t shove me into a conference room with 40 other bloggers. I probably won’t even unpack my video cameras. Nothing is more boring visually. But bring me into a someone’s office and magic happens.

8. Why don’t you get a ton of FriendFeed’ers to vote up your own blog? That’d guarantee I’d see it, and I’d see that people are happy about what you’re doing. I’m far more likely to cover you if that’s the case. I follow more than 3,000 FriendFeeders. I even keep track of all the things I like there. It’s quite an interesting feed to watch.

9. Build experiences where we can get to know you. Microsoft recently held a Digital Photo Summit. That was really great because there wasn’t any pressure to report on anything, just a chance to get to know you, your team, and see some of the things you are working on. Same thing at EA last week. By providing experiences where we can get our hands on your products, meet your team, etc, we’ll discover new story ideas together. I found a few at EA that I would never have known about if they didn’t have an event where we could hang out for a day.

Anyway, I’m sorry for generalizing the PR industry. The good ones are invaluable to my mission. They know who they are. The bad ones probably aren’t even reading my blog anyway, so that’s why I shouldn’t piss and moan about the PR industry. I’ll just piss off the good ones and the bad ones won’t care. Just chalk it up to letting off a little steam.

Back to answering email and setting up interviews…

Comments

  1. Dude… if you were a true PR person, you’d know that having to scroll through your long post is a pain in the a**. I ignore any RSS feeds that I have to scroll more than once or twice. Get with it. Feed this generation and get us interested. Who reads long blog posts these days, no matter how many points you have to make?

    -adventures

  2. Dude… if you were a true PR person, you’d know that having to scroll through your long post is a pain in the a**. I ignore any RSS feeds that I have to scroll more than once or twice. Get with it. Feed this generation and get us interested. Who reads long blog posts these days, no matter how many points you have to make?

    -adventures

  3. f*ck me. pardon my French Robert – but i was reading that shaking my head at first thinking he’s just going to go on & on about how poor things are & not really offer any real solutions…hence the “f*ck me” (as in “wow” btw). BUT you did they’re actually bloody impressive. They are some very good points (particularly point 1 & 9 for me) & what I love is the personal nature to most of them…it’s something which I have always wanted to see from the PR world & something which I am doing my best to ensure we do ourselves.

    I feel like a real suck as* saying this again, but great great post.

  4. f*ck me. pardon my French Robert – but i was reading that shaking my head at first thinking he’s just going to go on & on about how poor things are & not really offer any real solutions…hence the “f*ck me” (as in “wow” btw). BUT you did they’re actually bloody impressive. They are some very good points (particularly point 1 & 9 for me) & what I love is the personal nature to most of them…it’s something which I have always wanted to see from the PR world & something which I am doing my best to ensure we do ourselves.

    I feel like a real suck as* saying this again, but great great post.

  5. Robert,

    You self imposed hiatus has served you well. You are more passionate than I’ve heard in awhile. The issue of PR is constantly around but you brought your experience to the table and shared your relationships, this is true value.

    These past few weeks I’ve been trying to keep up with your various pursuits and discoveries, which hasn’t been easy. From discussing eGoverment to the behind the scenes look at the NBC Olympic site, you’ve put these encounters in true focus- your experience as an explorer. We tend to believe you because you live life in an open stream.

    PR pros need to live in community, by the time a press release has been written someone has already broken the service/ product and is writing about their interaction. I’ve seen some tremendous shifts lately in the way larger corporations are approaching the concept of Public Relations- CEO’s need to act like community managers and go through the entire process themselves. PR pros can help by guiding towards community involvement, trying the conversational tools that will enable micro-encounters. There will never be a more powerful selling device than positive word-of-mouth.

    We’ve seen the launch of several new sites that incorporate elements from the successful social sites, some with steam and some that just laid flat. The trend that I see is the sites that are winning have the CEO/ Founder smack in the middle of the community ( socialmedian, feedly).

    Thank you for bringing this all together in your post. Keep on preachin’ brother and I’ll keep comming to the service.

  6. Robert,

    You self imposed hiatus has served you well. You are more passionate than I’ve heard in awhile. The issue of PR is constantly around but you brought your experience to the table and shared your relationships, this is true value.

    These past few weeks I’ve been trying to keep up with your various pursuits and discoveries, which hasn’t been easy. From discussing eGoverment to the behind the scenes look at the NBC Olympic site, you’ve put these encounters in true focus- your experience as an explorer. We tend to believe you because you live life in an open stream.

    PR pros need to live in community, by the time a press release has been written someone has already broken the service/ product and is writing about their interaction. I’ve seen some tremendous shifts lately in the way larger corporations are approaching the concept of Public Relations- CEO’s need to act like community managers and go through the entire process themselves. PR pros can help by guiding towards community involvement, trying the conversational tools that will enable micro-encounters. There will never be a more powerful selling device than positive word-of-mouth.

    We’ve seen the launch of several new sites that incorporate elements from the successful social sites, some with steam and some that just laid flat. The trend that I see is the sites that are winning have the CEO/ Founder smack in the middle of the community ( socialmedian, feedly).

    Thank you for bringing this all together in your post. Keep on preachin’ brother and I’ll keep comming to the service.

  7. I’ve always believed that there’s no point in complaining about something if you can’t at least bring a solution to the table. While anti-PR rants (and there seem to be periodic waves of them) are often just reminders as to why bloggers hate us PR folks and why companies don’t need us, it’s really refreshing to see you provide some constructive suggestions (9 of them, no less!) on how best to work with you.

    Now if only others in the blogging community would follow your lead and do the same.

  8. I’ve always believed that there’s no point in complaining about something if you can’t at least bring a solution to the table. While anti-PR rants (and there seem to be periodic waves of them) are often just reminders as to why bloggers hate us PR folks and why companies don’t need us, it’s really refreshing to see you provide some constructive suggestions (9 of them, no less!) on how best to work with you.

    Now if only others in the blogging community would follow your lead and do the same.

  9. A couple of points that I think are important, Robert, from a blogger’s point of view. First, we pay as much attention to Techmeme as anyone, but it brings us almost NO traffic. What it does (and why it’s important for a PR person hawking his product) is to get our stories (or someone’s product, etc) in front of other bloggers and mainstream journalists, looking for something to write about. Unfortunately for us, getting a good story picked up on Techmeme, more often than not, just means lots of traffic for whatever (larger, more mainstream, bigger audience, more Techmeme juice) site picks up our meme and runs with it. However since we do have a bit of juice ourselves, we’re able to move someone up the Techmeme ladder by linking to them, and that makes us “valuable” to the PR people we deal with. But does it really matter? I’d be interested to see what relationship there is to appearing on Techmeme and traffic, sales, etc. Sure it’s an ego boost, but the traffic a Techmeme (even top line) item brings is laughably meager compared to Digg, Stumbleupon, or even a mention by Scoble.

    On a more general note, we picked a niche (with a niche audience, to be sure), and stuck with it. It has kept us from chasing every meme across the web, and allowed us to concentrate on what we know best. We’re better known (to a certain audience) than we would be if we were more general. That goes for PR, too. We are well known to a niche PR segment, and carving out that niche has made us bigger fish in a smaller pond. I think the PR that we deal with appreciates that. Bloggers looking for an edge can do a lot to position themselves so that PR will want to talk to them, even if it is for a smaller segment of the market overall.

  10. A couple of points that I think are important, Robert, from a blogger’s point of view. First, we pay as much attention to Techmeme as anyone, but it brings us almost NO traffic. What it does (and why it’s important for a PR person hawking his product) is to get our stories (or someone’s product, etc) in front of other bloggers and mainstream journalists, looking for something to write about. Unfortunately for us, getting a good story picked up on Techmeme, more often than not, just means lots of traffic for whatever (larger, more mainstream, bigger audience, more Techmeme juice) site picks up our meme and runs with it. However since we do have a bit of juice ourselves, we’re able to move someone up the Techmeme ladder by linking to them, and that makes us “valuable” to the PR people we deal with. But does it really matter? I’d be interested to see what relationship there is to appearing on Techmeme and traffic, sales, etc. Sure it’s an ego boost, but the traffic a Techmeme (even top line) item brings is laughably meager compared to Digg, Stumbleupon, or even a mention by Scoble.

    On a more general note, we picked a niche (with a niche audience, to be sure), and stuck with it. It has kept us from chasing every meme across the web, and allowed us to concentrate on what we know best. We’re better known (to a certain audience) than we would be if we were more general. That goes for PR, too. We are well known to a niche PR segment, and carving out that niche has made us bigger fish in a smaller pond. I think the PR that we deal with appreciates that. Bloggers looking for an edge can do a lot to position themselves so that PR will want to talk to them, even if it is for a smaller segment of the market overall.

  11. The problem is not PR… it’s that there aren’t enough Don MacAskills. If more start-ups were driven by such passionate, caring people, this discussion wouldn’t matter much.

    Too many view PR (like UI design, user documentation, etc.) as something you tack on at the end. The “good narrative” that PR folks can help craft must be baked into the product from the beginning. This isn’t about being on the Cluetrain, either–it’s about building something genuinely loveable… or, something that can help users be/feel a bit more [whatever they want... brave, creative, exciting, smart, useful, wild, strong, entertaining, etc.]

    Thanks for these two PR posts, Robert. And hey, I just got my print version of FastCompany and was delighted to see your whole “tearing up” thing made it into your column. : )

  12. The problem is not PR… it’s that there aren’t enough Don MacAskills. If more start-ups were driven by such passionate, caring people, this discussion wouldn’t matter much.

    Too many view PR (like UI design, user documentation, etc.) as something you tack on at the end. The “good narrative” that PR folks can help craft must be baked into the product from the beginning. This isn’t about being on the Cluetrain, either–it’s about building something genuinely loveable… or, something that can help users be/feel a bit more [whatever they want... brave, creative, exciting, smart, useful, wild, strong, entertaining, etc.]

    Thanks for these two PR posts, Robert. And hey, I just got my print version of FastCompany and was delighted to see your whole “tearing up” thing made it into your column. : )

  13. Robert,

    I respectfully disagree with your assertion that “bloggers are being commoditized.” While I generally agree with the larger point you’re communicating, stating as much in the passive voice suggests that bloggers in a world without PR would somehow be magically unique.

    There are by definition fewer leaders than followers. Some people have truly unique opinions but sadly, most do not. Signing up for WordPress doesn’t instantly bestow one with the ability to think critically and express a compelling view.

    The same dynamic absolutely applies for PR, just as it does for any industry or discipline. There’s an awful lot of crap out there which is inherently necessary for the cream to rise to the top. The current state of the blogosphere may be far from perfect but evidence does exist that natural market forces still tend to work.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post and keep them coming.

  14. Robert,

    I respectfully disagree with your assertion that “bloggers are being commoditized.” While I generally agree with the larger point you’re communicating, stating as much in the passive voice suggests that bloggers in a world without PR would somehow be magically unique.

    There are by definition fewer leaders than followers. Some people have truly unique opinions but sadly, most do not. Signing up for WordPress doesn’t instantly bestow one with the ability to think critically and express a compelling view.

    The same dynamic absolutely applies for PR, just as it does for any industry or discipline. There’s an awful lot of crap out there which is inherently necessary for the cream to rise to the top. The current state of the blogosphere may be far from perfect but evidence does exist that natural market forces still tend to work.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post and keep them coming.

  15. Robert,
    Great post. I really enjoyed reading it. The best part was your response to the first commenter Marc: “who said I wanted anyone to read this?” Classic. ;)

    Cheers!

  16. Robert,
    Great post. I really enjoyed reading it. The best part was your response to the first commenter Marc: “who said I wanted anyone to read this?” Classic. ;)

    Cheers!

  17. engaging in innovation is often personal & driven by passion … the irony of your piece (I never used PR firms instead lobbyists) is that the real creators are too often at the mercy of the message of the moment … “the trend is your friend” … you made your point but exhibit a similar passion to your “targets” (people & tech – if I understand correctly) … that being said critics don’t buy product & failure has not direct rationahip with that special something that comes with “solutions” ( products & services not tech per se) luck!

    we succeed in business more for recognition than location … wilingness to pay for bandwidth … I just spent some on your insightful piece …

  18. engaging in innovation is often personal & driven by passion … the irony of your piece (I never used PR firms instead lobbyists) is that the real creators are too often at the mercy of the message of the moment … “the trend is your friend” … you made your point but exhibit a similar passion to your “targets” (people & tech – if I understand correctly) … that being said critics don’t buy product & failure has not direct rationahip with that special something that comes with “solutions” ( products & services not tech per se) luck!

    we succeed in business more for recognition than location … wilingness to pay for bandwidth … I just spent some on your insightful piece …

  19. I didn’t beg Dave Winer for a link. I either asked what it took to get a link or jokingly asked for him to link to me because I was your brother (I don’t remember exactly which)…A little bit different.

  20. I didn’t beg Dave Winer for a link. I either asked what it took to get a link or jokingly asked for him to link to me because I was your brother (I don’t remember exactly which)…A little bit different.

  21. ★ ☆ PR 2.0 ★ ☆ is different from traditional PR

    PR 2.0 is more of an art form of Public Relations.

    You may be disillusioned about PR, but as PR 2.0 evolves, it will add another dimension to the profession.

    That is what we are on the ground floor of.

  22. ★ ☆ PR 2.0 ★ ☆ is different from traditional PR

    PR 2.0 is more of an art form of Public Relations.

    You may be disillusioned about PR, but as PR 2.0 evolves, it will add another dimension to the profession.

    That is what we are on the ground floor of.

  23. Until mainstream PR and Journalism schools teach the art and technology of engaging social conversations, your main points will continue to ring true for most of the world. We’re still training new entrants whose highest goal involves arriving with their company, product or service on the first page of a Google search. Many of their textbooks and college lecturers don’t explain the dynamics of social networking.

  24. Until mainstream PR and Journalism schools teach the art and technology of engaging social conversations, your main points will continue to ring true for most of the world. We’re still training new entrants whose highest goal involves arriving with their company, product or service on the first page of a Google search. Many of their textbooks and college lecturers don’t explain the dynamics of social networking.

  25. The one tricky bit in all this for PR people (and I vaguely fall into that bucket) is that 95% of us don’t have a killer product. We have good products, or ordinary products, or kind of crap products.

    We (being the little company my wife and I run) are at a point these days where we can choose winners, but even those winners are rarely really awesome. That’s why, Robert, you don’t hear from me very often.

    That said, we’ve still got to promote the other 95% of products. And the world needs and likes lots of these products–they’re just not unique or remarkable.

    So, if we only bring tech bloggers the awesome stuff, what do we do for the rest. Advertise, I guess. This certainly isn’t your problem to solve, but I’d be curious about what you thought.

  26. The one tricky bit in all this for PR people (and I vaguely fall into that bucket) is that 95% of us don’t have a killer product. We have good products, or ordinary products, or kind of crap products.

    We (being the little company my wife and I run) are at a point these days where we can choose winners, but even those winners are rarely really awesome. That’s why, Robert, you don’t hear from me very often.

    That said, we’ve still got to promote the other 95% of products. And the world needs and likes lots of these products–they’re just not unique or remarkable.

    So, if we only bring tech bloggers the awesome stuff, what do we do for the rest. Advertise, I guess. This certainly isn’t your problem to solve, but I’d be curious about what you thought.

  27. The way I see those rants and techmeme game.

    Tech bloggers are new media pioneers which make trends and eventually place exactly where new media should be. We can call it a revolution. While the traditional PR and mutants learn how to play techmeme game, Tech Bloggers most likely already have new arsenals as their toys…
    For the 2.0 is an expression of constant change, tech bloggers are leading these changes. They should! Unless blog like Mashable and TechCrunch really love the status quo and so their followers… then tech bloggers off from 2.0 constant change.

    I am not really a tech blogger and I don’t do blog for tech meme nor adsense. I blog for myself and friends, but still I probably brilliant and only my friends (my blogosphere or real network) knew about it. I guess fame (popularity) is an issue in this game… :)

    One of many reasons why I like friendfeed was Scoble responded to my comment. This is so cool considering I don’t have any killer products, only comments.

  28. The way I see those rants and techmeme game.

    Tech bloggers are new media pioneers which make trends and eventually place exactly where new media should be. We can call it a revolution. While the traditional PR and mutants learn how to play techmeme game, Tech Bloggers most likely already have new arsenals as their toys…
    For the 2.0 is an expression of constant change, tech bloggers are leading these changes. They should! Unless blog like Mashable and TechCrunch really love the status quo and so their followers… then tech bloggers off from 2.0 constant change.

    I am not really a tech blogger and I don’t do blog for tech meme nor adsense. I blog for myself and friends, but still I probably brilliant and only my friends (my blogosphere or real network) knew about it. I guess fame (popularity) is an issue in this game… :)

    One of many reasons why I like friendfeed was Scoble responded to my comment. This is so cool considering I don’t have any killer products, only comments.

  29. Thank you for this post, not only because it helps us learn more about what you want or how you want it, but because it helps clients/startups understand, too. Sometimes they are drinking too much of the Kool-Aid and don’t always understand why every blogger/journo doesn’t want to write about them every time they sneeze. But thankfully at this juncture, I’m fortunate enough to have clients who do get it, do listen and do participate, but I haven’t always been this fortunate.

    Robert, what I dig about you is your passion for what you do, which is exactly what I love about some of my clients because nothing is more engaging than the passion that comes through when sharing something really cool. And there’s a difference between passion and drinking the Kool-Aid.

    Aaron Fulkerson of MindTouch and Steve Rosenbaum of Magnify.net are two of our clients who are doing cool stuff and are not only passionate themselves, but have built a community of users who are equally passionate. And of course another one who is not a client is Loic Le Meur.

    Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that he’s passionate for what he does and he has a fun product (IMO). This kind of passion is contagious and it’s what’s driven me my entire life.

    Okay, I’ll shut up now. After all, I was the one who said that this topic is old and tired, and here I am still blabbing on. ;-)

  30. Oh dear Robert – this is sooooo indicative of people who think they’re pros but are not. From both sides. Your argument presupposes it is a numbers game and that nothing has fundamentally changed. Ask my piddling number of readers the same question. Cuz it ain’t about the numbers or Techmeme or Arrington. It’s about WHO those people are who turn up to read what’s said and what they do about what they read. If that includes the next step in a buying decision involving $millions – I’m happy. We’re arrogant in the extreme if we think our influence is any more than a single data point. Even the best and most respected analysts in the world will tell you that. All the rest is Wisdom of Followers.

    As for PR 2.0 – how about get PR 1.0 right first? 99.99% of the stuff I get is no different (or any less spammy) than the stuff I used to get 20 years ago. Ask Kara Swisher or Dan F or any of the others we both know whether there’s been any change to the point they can identify a genuine trend.

    Finally, the real stories are not the reprinted press releases or puff pieces that get out there first. The real stories are the ones the companies don’t want us to write. That’s what gets attention from the people who matter – the folk that use tech stuff. The rest is the media side of the house doing the pimping for the PR industry. Is it any wonder that I see more tech companies seriously thinking about turning themselves into media businesses? Why pay a dog when you can bark yourself. The effect ain’t any less and it’s a lot more cost effective. Still fails but reinforces the reason I get out of bed.

  31. Thank you for this post, not only because it helps us learn more about what you want or how you want it, but because it helps clients/startups understand, too. Sometimes they are drinking too much of the Kool-Aid and don’t always understand why every blogger/journo doesn’t want to write about them every time they sneeze. But thankfully at this juncture, I’m fortunate enough to have clients who do get it, do listen and do participate, but I haven’t always been this fortunate.

    Robert, what I dig about you is your passion for what you do, which is exactly what I love about some of my clients because nothing is more engaging than the passion that comes through when sharing something really cool. And there’s a difference between passion and drinking the Kool-Aid.

    Aaron Fulkerson of MindTouch and Steve Rosenbaum of Magnify.net are two of our clients who are doing cool stuff and are not only passionate themselves, but have built a community of users who are equally passionate. And of course another one who is not a client is Loic Le Meur.

    Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that he’s passionate for what he does and he has a fun product (IMO). This kind of passion is contagious and it’s what’s driven me my entire life.

    Okay, I’ll shut up now. After all, I was the one who said that this topic is old and tired, and here I am still blabbing on. ;-)

  32. Oh dear Robert – this is sooooo indicative of people who think they’re pros but are not. From both sides. Your argument presupposes it is a numbers game and that nothing has fundamentally changed. Ask my piddling number of readers the same question. Cuz it ain’t about the numbers or Techmeme or Arrington. It’s about WHO those people are who turn up to read what’s said and what they do about what they read. If that includes the next step in a buying decision involving $millions – I’m happy. We’re arrogant in the extreme if we think our influence is any more than a single data point. Even the best and most respected analysts in the world will tell you that. All the rest is Wisdom of Followers.

    As for PR 2.0 – how about get PR 1.0 right first? 99.99% of the stuff I get is no different (or any less spammy) than the stuff I used to get 20 years ago. Ask Kara Swisher or Dan F or any of the others we both know whether there’s been any change to the point they can identify a genuine trend.

    Finally, the real stories are not the reprinted press releases or puff pieces that get out there first. The real stories are the ones the companies don’t want us to write. That’s what gets attention from the people who matter – the folk that use tech stuff. The rest is the media side of the house doing the pimping for the PR industry. Is it any wonder that I see more tech companies seriously thinking about turning themselves into media businesses? Why pay a dog when you can bark yourself. The effect ain’t any less and it’s a lot more cost effective. Still fails but reinforces the reason I get out of bed.

  33. Last comment and I swear I’ll go away. But I walked away and kept thinking about Dennis’ comment, which posted at the same time as mine so I couldn’t resist and had to come back and say one last thing.

    Dennis is spot-on about the PR/Web 1.0 and PR/Web 2.0. The problem existed then and it still exists today. And it’s on both sides, PR with the barrage of press releases and on the journo side with the race to get the scoop and be first to post. But back then there was no TC or Mashable, it was CNET News.com, PC Week/eWeek, InfoWorld and ZDNet (pre-CNET buying them).

    Dennis you make an excellent point, the real stories are not in the press release and reside with the customer who’s using the product to solve real problems. Or the story the company doesn’t want you to write…those are the best scoops! Of course, it’s PR’s job to keep you from getting to those stories. ;-)

    Okay, that’s my last two-cents. I’m outta here.

  34. Last comment and I swear I’ll go away. But I walked away and kept thinking about Dennis’ comment, which posted at the same time as mine so I couldn’t resist and had to come back and say one last thing.

    Dennis is spot-on about the PR/Web 1.0 and PR/Web 2.0. The problem existed then and it still exists today. And it’s on both sides, PR with the barrage of press releases and on the journo side with the race to get the scoop and be first to post. But back then there was no TC or Mashable, it was CNET News.com, PC Week/eWeek, InfoWorld and ZDNet (pre-CNET buying them).

    Dennis you make an excellent point, the real stories are not in the press release and reside with the customer who’s using the product to solve real problems. Or the story the company doesn’t want you to write…those are the best scoops! Of course, it’s PR’s job to keep you from getting to those stories. ;-)

    Okay, that’s my last two-cents. I’m outta here.

  35. Dennis. Spot on. Get PR 1.0 right first. Because getting that right is (shock, horror) the same as getting PR 2.0 right. Individual relationships and adding value.

    And that’s just it. There is no PR 2.0. It’s all the same. It just wasn’t done right all the time the first time around and it still isn’t done right now. The only difference is that only journalists were screaming about it a decade ago. Now journalists and bloggers are.

    that doesn’t mean things aren’t different now. But the fundamentals remain the same. Individual relationships and bring something to the table that adds value.

  36. Dennis. Spot on. Get PR 1.0 right first. Because getting that right is (shock, horror) the same as getting PR 2.0 right. Individual relationships and adding value.

    And that’s just it. There is no PR 2.0. It’s all the same. It just wasn’t done right all the time the first time around and it still isn’t done right now. The only difference is that only journalists were screaming about it a decade ago. Now journalists and bloggers are.

    that doesn’t mean things aren’t different now. But the fundamentals remain the same. Individual relationships and bring something to the table that adds value.

  37. Just wanted to let you know that I really appreciated this post. I think you’ve brought some great points into this conversation and every bit of this helps make me (and the rest of us in this profession) better.

    I do hope the doors ultimately remain open between bloggers and PR – someday perhaps we’ll all get it. I believe there can be real mutual value here as long as the communication and the relationships are approached respectfully.

    Again, thanks for this post. Made the day a little better.

  38. Just wanted to let you know that I really appreciated this post. I think you’ve brought some great points into this conversation and every bit of this helps make me (and the rest of us in this profession) better.

    I do hope the doors ultimately remain open between bloggers and PR – someday perhaps we’ll all get it. I believe there can be real mutual value here as long as the communication and the relationships are approached respectfully.

    Again, thanks for this post. Made the day a little better.

  39. Hi, Robert! I love PR and adore PR 2.0. I have to say that your blog post made me happy! Your post should be mandatory reading for all CEOs and PR professionals. Public Relations is about relationships and access to the source of information (whether it is a person, a product or a process). For PR 2.0 these two basic principals still stand strong on their own merits; however, the message is not pre-crafted and must be experienced first hand. I strongly believe that the characteristics of a successful PR 2.0 practice –most of which you mentioned in your post- have increased the level of integrity and credibility standards of the messages anyone receives or sends. PR professionals value objectivity and repetition; PR 2.0 professionals value subjectivity and fluidity. Both are relevant in communicating the full spectrum of a message, but whichever practice of this science is being utilized, honesty continues to be a share responsibility. Thank you for the great and honest post . : ) Love it! – Ana.
    PS.- Found my way to you through Twitter.

  40. Hi, Robert! I love PR and adore PR 2.0. I have to say that your blog post made me happy! Your post should be mandatory reading for all CEOs and PR professionals. Public Relations is about relationships and access to the source of information (whether it is a person, a product or a process). For PR 2.0 these two basic principals still stand strong on their own merits; however, the message is not pre-crafted and must be experienced first hand. I strongly believe that the characteristics of a successful PR 2.0 practice –most of which you mentioned in your post- have increased the level of integrity and credibility standards of the messages anyone receives or sends. PR professionals value objectivity and repetition; PR 2.0 professionals value subjectivity and fluidity. Both are relevant in communicating the full spectrum of a message, but whichever practice of this science is being utilized, honesty continues to be a share responsibility. Thank you for the great and honest post . : ) Love it! – Ana.
    PS.- Found my way to you through Twitter.

  41. “Why is it so talked about?”

    Because PR is an easy, easy target.

    Congrats, Robert! You’ve just picked low-hanging fruit!

  42. “Why is it so talked about?”

    Because PR is an easy, easy target.

    Congrats, Robert! You’ve just picked low-hanging fruit!

  43. really good stuff, scoble. loved your points of view.

    but despite agreeing with you, I’m not so sure that PR folks are the (only) ones to blame. IMHO, the root cause is in California and has a name: Google.

    Google AdSense, more specifically.. Keep reading.

    When you think about the blogosphere 5 years ago we had a bunch of passionate people writing about the stuff they love. Anandtech, you, Dave Winer and a handful of others.. Did they make money with this? Hardly, (well, maybe some..). Anyway, at that time it wasn’t about the money; it was about the fun, the passion, the direct connection with readers. Life is beautiful.

    Then, AdSense – and shortly after a thousand other ad networks – came and gave power to the people. For the first time you could see the effect of the long tail and make some bucks with it. And gradually, unknown people started receiving checks. Big checks sometimes. Some dropped day jobs to become full-time bloggers. Others hired writers, opened full-scale operations, and suddenly “blog” become less of a passion and more of a business. A considerable business by the way. In fact, a multi-billion dollar ad industry.

    But why is this a bad thing? With money comes scale, resources, equipment, better quality, no? In theory things should be better… In theory…

    Is it better now? No. Ninety percent of the buzz is just mainstream crap. Most so-called bloggers are robotic reflections of the same original source (frequently seeded by our PR friends). The good & original stuff usually gets obfuscated by a flood of news-spam repeated ad nauseum.

    Not surprisingly, the growth brought also a bunch of “me too” gold farmers trying to mimic old success formulas. People copying others, replicating content, spreading a shitload of stories desperately trying to attract traffic and pageranks. Companies and media networks paying their writers based on the traffic they generate instead of quality of their work. Writers creating sensationalist and SEO-friendly titles & articles to lure search engines algorithms and attract inbound links. After all, it’s either this or they’ll have a direct hit on their paycheck.. Life isn’t so beautiful anymore.

    As in any rule, there are exceptions. There are few guys still creating good stuff and making a living of it: Om, Anand, Jason, Ryan, Scoble. But unfortunately these are exceptions, and it’s getting more and more difficult separate the wheat from the chaff. And I bet things will only get worse over time, with the ever increasing number of users online consuming everything people throw at them.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more of good guys dropping the blogosphere entirely, looking for greener pastures elsewhere. You and Jason are recent examples and I’m sure many more will follow. Be videocasts, discussion lists, twitter, friendfeed, you-name-it, eventually each one will find ways to express and share their passion with like-minded communities.

    So, are the PR folks the ones to blame for the pasteurization of our industry? I don’t think so. These (with all due respect) bastards are just doing their job. The same job they’ve been doing for the last 20 years: trying to impress Walts & Dan Gillmors of this 2.0 world.

    Yes, most are still clueless and will continue mass-blasting everyone for ages to come, but there are certainly exceptions. Rubel obviously come to my mind, and probably the others folks here reading your post and participating on the discussion. Eventually they’ll get better on this and starting dialoguing instead of trying to push things down the throat. And then the natural selection will do its job..

    So, in the end, your rant just has one clear consequence: you’re just helping them to get there faster. And maybe you’ll burn in hell for this. Twice :o)

  44. really good stuff, scoble. loved your points of view.

    but despite agreeing with you, I’m not so sure that PR folks are the (only) ones to blame. IMHO, the root cause is in California and has a name: Google.

    Google AdSense, more specifically.. Keep reading.

    When you think about the blogosphere 5 years ago we had a bunch of passionate people writing about the stuff they love. Anandtech, you, Dave Winer and a handful of others.. Did they make money with this? Hardly, (well, maybe some..). Anyway, at that time it wasn’t about the money; it was about the fun, the passion, the direct connection with readers. Life is beautiful.

    Then, AdSense – and shortly after a thousand other ad networks – came and gave power to the people. For the first time you could see the effect of the long tail and make some bucks with it. And gradually, unknown people started receiving checks. Big checks sometimes. Some dropped day jobs to become full-time bloggers. Others hired writers, opened full-scale operations, and suddenly “blog” become less of a passion and more of a business. A considerable business by the way. In fact, a multi-billion dollar ad industry.

    But why is this a bad thing? With money comes scale, resources, equipment, better quality, no? In theory things should be better… In theory…

    Is it better now? No. Ninety percent of the buzz is just mainstream crap. Most so-called bloggers are robotic reflections of the same original source (frequently seeded by our PR friends). The good & original stuff usually gets obfuscated by a flood of news-spam repeated ad nauseum.

    Not surprisingly, the growth brought also a bunch of “me too” gold farmers trying to mimic old success formulas. People copying others, replicating content, spreading a shitload of stories desperately trying to attract traffic and pageranks. Companies and media networks paying their writers based on the traffic they generate instead of quality of their work. Writers creating sensationalist and SEO-friendly titles & articles to lure search engines algorithms and attract inbound links. After all, it’s either this or they’ll have a direct hit on their paycheck.. Life isn’t so beautiful anymore.

    As in any rule, there are exceptions. There are few guys still creating good stuff and making a living of it: Om, Anand, Jason, Ryan, Scoble. But unfortunately these are exceptions, and it’s getting more and more difficult separate the wheat from the chaff. And I bet things will only get worse over time, with the ever increasing number of users online consuming everything people throw at them.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more of good guys dropping the blogosphere entirely, looking for greener pastures elsewhere. You and Jason are recent examples and I’m sure many more will follow. Be videocasts, discussion lists, twitter, friendfeed, you-name-it, eventually each one will find ways to express and share their passion with like-minded communities.

    So, are the PR folks the ones to blame for the pasteurization of our industry? I don’t think so. These (with all due respect) bastards are just doing their job. The same job they’ve been doing for the last 20 years: trying to impress Walts & Dan Gillmors of this 2.0 world.

    Yes, most are still clueless and will continue mass-blasting everyone for ages to come, but there are certainly exceptions. Rubel obviously come to my mind, and probably the others folks here reading your post and participating on the discussion. Eventually they’ll get better on this and starting dialoguing instead of trying to push things down the throat. And then the natural selection will do its job..

    So, in the end, your rant just has one clear consequence: you’re just helping them to get there faster. And maybe you’ll burn in hell for this. Twice :o)

  45. This is a great post Scoble – but I think you left out an important component for any blogger: This is why you all ended up in the PR trap that you described in the beginning. And it’s a situation that hasn’t (and won’t) change.

    You are in it to make money. You can’t do this for free. The things that you say you want: A lot of them are motivated by making money (having fun, yes.. but also making money).

    I guess what I’m trying to say is: you can’t just pass the buck to PR and blame them for creating this annoying echo-chamber (which as a reader I hate… and I’m SICK of the techmeme wheel). Bloggers are to blame – TechCrunch, Mashable and the rest….. all of them are losing my respect and continue to do so everytime I see the same article.

    The reason they do it: It’s a quicker easier buck. That is a motivating principle and that’s why the PR gets through.

  46. This is a great post Scoble – but I think you left out an important component for any blogger: This is why you all ended up in the PR trap that you described in the beginning. And it’s a situation that hasn’t (and won’t) change.

    You are in it to make money. You can’t do this for free. The things that you say you want: A lot of them are motivated by making money (having fun, yes.. but also making money).

    I guess what I’m trying to say is: you can’t just pass the buck to PR and blame them for creating this annoying echo-chamber (which as a reader I hate… and I’m SICK of the techmeme wheel). Bloggers are to blame – TechCrunch, Mashable and the rest….. all of them are losing my respect and continue to do so everytime I see the same article.

    The reason they do it: It’s a quicker easier buck. That is a motivating principle and that’s why the PR gets through.

  47. Oh crap. I can’t in good conscious not add this: Jeremy Toeman does rock. When he heard I was starting a nonprofit – he volunteered his time and his company’s time to help me figure out my positioning, user-experience, etc.

    There’s no way I could afford a PR/Marketing person – and Jeremy is doing this because… well…. I think he just likes doing nice things.

  48. Oh crap. I can’t in good conscious not add this: Jeremy Toeman does rock. When he heard I was starting a nonprofit – he volunteered his time and his company’s time to help me figure out my positioning, user-experience, etc.

    There’s no way I could afford a PR/Marketing person – and Jeremy is doing this because… well…. I think he just likes doing nice things.

  49. nice post Robert – 2 comments

    1) I think the point about interesting people behind a story is where you excel and others could learn from.

    2) *maybe* Apple PR would be more forthcoming with Jonathan Ive if people got his name right. I see way too many people call him Jonathan Ives :) Details matter, to Apple more than most.

  50. Robert, brilliant stuff! I do feel sorry for people working in PR agencies (I left one six months ago), facing pressure from make-me-more-money-don’t-overservice bosses; this-story-must-be-front page-Financial Times clients; never-acknowledging-never-picking-up-phone journalists and now – bloggers. No bloody wonder they are sticking to blasting out press releases, canned comments and chasing, and chasing journalists until their little fingers bleed front pressing a redial button. Give them a break. It seems that good PRs are those who either were given a carte blanche from their company to potter about Twitter all day or got so fed up that set up their own boutique agencies. You need time to become good at this.

    In-house comms people aren’t without blame either. Sitting in a middle of all exciting stuff that’s happening they should be feeding PRs ideas; engage with the media and give more access. From experience, it works. And while I am at it. People who set up start-ups because they’ve written a line of code and thought it would be a good idea to make money from it, with no business plan in sight, no actual problem that their product would solve… If only they did nothing, it would save all of us lots of time. Enough, rant over. You have brought out the worst in me, Robert.

  51. nice post Robert – 2 comments

    1) I think the point about interesting people behind a story is where you excel and others could learn from.

    2) *maybe* Apple PR would be more forthcoming with Jonathan Ive if people got his name right. I see way too many people call him Jonathan Ives :) Details matter, to Apple more than most.

  52. Robert, brilliant stuff! I do feel sorry for people working in PR agencies (I left one six months ago), facing pressure from make-me-more-money-don’t-overservice bosses; this-story-must-be-front page-Financial Times clients; never-acknowledging-never-picking-up-phone journalists and now – bloggers. No bloody wonder they are sticking to blasting out press releases, canned comments and chasing, and chasing journalists until their little fingers bleed front pressing a redial button. Give them a break. It seems that good PRs are those who either were given a carte blanche from their company to potter about Twitter all day or got so fed up that set up their own boutique agencies. You need time to become good at this.

    In-house comms people aren’t without blame either. Sitting in a middle of all exciting stuff that’s happening they should be feeding PRs ideas; engage with the media and give more access. From experience, it works. And while I am at it. People who set up start-ups because they’ve written a line of code and thought it would be a good idea to make money from it, with no business plan in sight, no actual problem that their product would solve… If only they did nothing, it would save all of us lots of time. Enough, rant over. You have brought out the worst in me, Robert.

  53. Two things:

    1) Scoble – do you really have time to find those wonderful new startups with passionate founders and delighted users. sure, we can camp out on your lawn or e-mail you, but you follow thousands of people, get thousands of emails, and are simply inundated. even if there was a needle, you have a haystack to get through before finding it. that might also be a problem? but great post nonetheless – as an entrepreneur often pitching ideas, its refreshing seeing it from the opposite point of view.

    2) This Jeremy Toeman guy seems to be a rockstar of sorts. Maybe its time to get in touch. Whatever you are doing, you are doing it well – keep it up dude.

  54. Two things:

    1) Scoble – do you really have time to find those wonderful new startups with passionate founders and delighted users. sure, we can camp out on your lawn or e-mail you, but you follow thousands of people, get thousands of emails, and are simply inundated. even if there was a needle, you have a haystack to get through before finding it. that might also be a problem? but great post nonetheless – as an entrepreneur often pitching ideas, its refreshing seeing it from the opposite point of view.

    2) This Jeremy Toeman guy seems to be a rockstar of sorts. Maybe its time to get in touch. Whatever you are doing, you are doing it well – keep it up dude.

  55. I’m both a tech blogger a blogger tech PR person. I love experiencing and sharing cool, new stuff. Simple as that. Scoble, we chatted on camera a few times while I was with Sling. Sorry to hear you don’t think you need a Dash GPS… But, hey I’m *listening* and I’m not going to shove it down your throat. I’m here when you’re ready. :)

  56. I’m both a tech blogger a blogger tech PR person. I love experiencing and sharing cool, new stuff. Simple as that. Scoble, we chatted on camera a few times while I was with Sling. Sorry to hear you don’t think you need a Dash GPS… But, hey I’m *listening* and I’m not going to shove it down your throat. I’m here when you’re ready. :)

  57. 1. It’s a two way race, if that is the proper word, between Robert Scoble and Michael Arrington in terms of who has their finger most on the pulse of the tech industry (and related influences), at the deepest and most influential and penetrating levels. Roberts knowledge is broader, Michael’s is a bit more A-list focused and (only very slightly) more influential (IMO). They each are masters at separating value from noise by integrating well huge amounts of information.

    2. Robert has paid his dues for a long time (as have most of those at the top) and walks the walk. He knows what he is talking about and he has helped a great number of people and reports fairly. He’s in the business for the right reasons and has a great perspective and balance on things. He’s also much better tempered (but tough) than a few other of his peers.

    3. Robert is a great marketer hinself. Look at the Scoble brand (apart from FastCompany, Microsoft etc which he brings along – of course they have their own major brands).

    4. Robert is advancing in his marketing sophistication quickly. Look at all the buzzwords and references (and facts and factoids) included in the right context and manner. Headlines break up the material and a conversational writing style engages the reader.

    5. This post is too long. While that itself may be good for Techmeme or other services many readers cannot sustain attention this long. A part 1 and a part 2 might be helpful.

  58. 1. It’s a two way race, if that is the proper word, between Robert Scoble and Michael Arrington in terms of who has their finger most on the pulse of the tech industry (and related influences), at the deepest and most influential and penetrating levels. Roberts knowledge is broader, Michael’s is a bit more A-list focused and (only very slightly) more influential (IMO). They each are masters at separating value from noise by integrating well huge amounts of information.

    2. Robert has paid his dues for a long time (as have most of those at the top) and walks the walk. He knows what he is talking about and he has helped a great number of people and reports fairly. He’s in the business for the right reasons and has a great perspective and balance on things. He’s also much better tempered (but tough) than a few other of his peers.

    3. Robert is a great marketer hinself. Look at the Scoble brand (apart from FastCompany, Microsoft etc which he brings along – of course they have their own major brands).

    4. Robert is advancing in his marketing sophistication quickly. Look at all the buzzwords and references (and facts and factoids) included in the right context and manner. Headlines break up the material and a conversational writing style engages the reader.

    5. This post is too long. While that itself may be good for Techmeme or other services many readers cannot sustain attention this long. A part 1 and a part 2 might be helpful.

  59. It took you 4 _YEARS_ to figure out that “new tech” bloggers were one big circle jerk?

    Wow.

    Next there’ll be a revelation that blue monsters are just dumb cartoons. I guess that’s something to get figured out around about 2011 by the looks of things.

  60. It took you 4 _YEARS_ to figure out that “new tech” bloggers were one big circle jerk?

    Wow.

    Next there’ll be a revelation that blue monsters are just dumb cartoons. I guess that’s something to get figured out around about 2011 by the looks of things.

  61. Big, detailed post (almost too big perhaps for one blog), so I’ll try to be short in my reply. Quick disclaimer. I’m in PR. And I blog.

    1. This is one of many blogs I’ve seen on the subject recently and I agree with the points of Dennis and others above: get PR right first of all. It’s the same problem journalists get, just transposed to bloggers.

    2. Most PRs don’t blog, so they’re just getting their heads around the medium.

    3. Actually, most of their clients don’t blog either. In the UK, people are sceptical about the value of blogs. Until someone complains about their service and it alls goes a bit virile.

    4. There are different types of bloggers, who want to get something different out of the medium. Some (probably like yourself) want to be “media” in their own right. For others, it’s nothing more than an online diary. Understanding what the blogger is doing it for in the first place saves a lot of effort in the long run.

    So, advice to anyone working the PR industry: read some blogs; start to write one; and finally, don’t assume that you can lump bloggers together and get them to write nice things about your clients.

  62. Big, detailed post (almost too big perhaps for one blog), so I’ll try to be short in my reply. Quick disclaimer. I’m in PR. And I blog.

    1. This is one of many blogs I’ve seen on the subject recently and I agree with the points of Dennis and others above: get PR right first of all. It’s the same problem journalists get, just transposed to bloggers.

    2. Most PRs don’t blog, so they’re just getting their heads around the medium.

    3. Actually, most of their clients don’t blog either. In the UK, people are sceptical about the value of blogs. Until someone complains about their service and it alls goes a bit virile.

    4. There are different types of bloggers, who want to get something different out of the medium. Some (probably like yourself) want to be “media” in their own right. For others, it’s nothing more than an online diary. Understanding what the blogger is doing it for in the first place saves a lot of effort in the long run.

    So, advice to anyone working the PR industry: read some blogs; start to write one; and finally, don’t assume that you can lump bloggers together and get them to write nice things about your clients.

  63. Hmmmm…. You asked what is it that tech bloggers want?

    They want their life back!!! …Please :-(

    We live in the era of Information overload – from power breakfasts to cocktail parties we all need to be time management magicians to be able to manage the information and connections in our lives.
    For few years people speak and develops many solutions that bring me more relevant information

  64. Hmmmm…. You asked what is it that tech bloggers want?

    They want their life back!!! …Please :-(

    We live in the era of Information overload – from power breakfasts to cocktail parties we all need to be time management magicians to be able to manage the information and connections in our lives.
    For few years people speak and develops many solutions that bring me more relevant information

  65. Hmmmm… You asked what is it that tech bloggers want? – They want their life back!

    We live in the era of Information overload – from power breakfasts to cocktail parties we all need to be time management magicians to be able to manage the information and connections in our lives.
    For few years people speak and develops many solutions that bring me more relevant information

  66. Hmmmm… You asked what is it that tech bloggers want? – They want their life back!

    We live in the era of Information overload – from power breakfasts to cocktail parties we all need to be time management magicians to be able to manage the information and connections in our lives.
    For few years people speak and develops many solutions that bring me more relevant information

  67. I don’t think tech bloggers deserve to be considered “social media experts” because they don’t appreciate social networking. All this emphasis on “cool technology” and valuations is besides the point. What is important is how effective a web site is at fostering community and forming new relationships.

    For example, I’m sure TechCrunch won’t even bother to report on Vloggerheads because it is just a Ning network site. However it represents an attempt by a significant proportion of the vlogger community to strike out on their own and gain ownership and control over their community which has been poorly served by video sharing sites. It is the community that has value and where the community goes so goes all the value of social networking. If my friends aren’t there then your web site or service has nothing.

  68. I don’t think tech bloggers deserve to be considered “social media experts” because they don’t appreciate social networking. All this emphasis on “cool technology” and valuations is besides the point. What is important is how effective a web site is at fostering community and forming new relationships.

    For example, I’m sure TechCrunch won’t even bother to report on Vloggerheads because it is just a Ning network site. However it represents an attempt by a significant proportion of the vlogger community to strike out on their own and gain ownership and control over their community which has been poorly served by video sharing sites. It is the community that has value and where the community goes so goes all the value of social networking. If my friends aren’t there then your web site or service has nothing.

  69. All this talk about “community” is very overblown, IMO. Is TechCrunch a community? I don’t think so. They get what? one or two million visitors? How many write comments? It’s usually less than 100, and most of those are trolls.

    Does Scobleizer have a community? Yes, I suppose it does. But as somebody who has read this blog for years now, I recognize maybe a dozen commenters. And who here besides Robert himself knows who the hell I am? I’d guess nobody. (Yeah, I know it doesn’t help that I don’t link to a blog. I gave up blogging. Usually the only people who bothered to comment were trolls. I’m sick to death of trolls.)

    IMO, blogging isn’t a good tool for community. And I think PR folks give bloggers too much credit. So what if you get on TechCrunch? You know what that will do for you? You’ll immediately get thousands of hits and then they’ll be gone. It’s like being attacked by locust. The ones who comment will be the ones who think they can do a better job than you did and cut the service to ribbons.

    If you’ve got server capacity to withstand this attack, then you’re squandering your resources because it’s really more than you need at the moment. (Like I said, 99.9% will never be back.) If you don’t have the capacity, then your users will be put out because the service will go down.

    When my own service launches in January, I can tell you that I won’t be looking to get on TechCrunch or Techmeme (have never ever even been to techmeme) and I sure won’t be paying a PR person to put out press releases. I’ll get the word out to people I know and will talk to them about it and they can tell people if they like it and invite their friends and family and so it goes. Organic growth is what actually works.

    You need a strong base of support before you start showing up on places like TechCrunch. Otherwise, there will be nobody there who will know enough about your service to defend it when the trolls start attacking.

    I’d bet donuts that the new services you never read about on major tech blogs are in a stronger position to actually make it. THAT’S the essence of what’s wrong with PR.

  70. All this talk about “community” is very overblown, IMO. Is TechCrunch a community? I don’t think so. They get what? one or two million visitors? How many write comments? It’s usually less than 100, and most of those are trolls.

    Does Scobleizer have a community? Yes, I suppose it does. But as somebody who has read this blog for years now, I recognize maybe a dozen commenters. And who here besides Robert himself knows who the hell I am? I’d guess nobody. (Yeah, I know it doesn’t help that I don’t link to a blog. I gave up blogging. Usually the only people who bothered to comment were trolls. I’m sick to death of trolls.)

    IMO, blogging isn’t a good tool for community. And I think PR folks give bloggers too much credit. So what if you get on TechCrunch? You know what that will do for you? You’ll immediately get thousands of hits and then they’ll be gone. It’s like being attacked by locust. The ones who comment will be the ones who think they can do a better job than you did and cut the service to ribbons.

    If you’ve got server capacity to withstand this attack, then you’re squandering your resources because it’s really more than you need at the moment. (Like I said, 99.9% will never be back.) If you don’t have the capacity, then your users will be put out because the service will go down.

    When my own service launches in January, I can tell you that I won’t be looking to get on TechCrunch or Techmeme (have never ever even been to techmeme) and I sure won’t be paying a PR person to put out press releases. I’ll get the word out to people I know and will talk to them about it and they can tell people if they like it and invite their friends and family and so it goes. Organic growth is what actually works.

    You need a strong base of support before you start showing up on places like TechCrunch. Otherwise, there will be nobody there who will know enough about your service to defend it when the trolls start attacking.

    I’d bet donuts that the new services you never read about on major tech blogs are in a stronger position to actually make it. THAT’S the essence of what’s wrong with PR.

  71. Nice post Robert. I have to say in my limited experience that Brian Solis and the FutureWorks folks are top notch. I was offered some interesting inside experiences and a real chance to find out about some cool “office 2.0″ tech before anyone else. In business school I learned that marketing is the 4 P’s but then expanded to include a couple more – politics and PR. You still need PR even if you have a great product and it can be a very useful tool to influence others if used correctly. Some PR approaches are better than others as much as some sales pitches are better than others. You set yourself up as a big target with some big self inflicted problems to solve then whine about it when people who are trying to help solve those problems try to contact you. Not every product can be revolutionary – some are just improvements to existing things. Don’t be so dismissive. You can still get to the store in a model T Ford but my guess is you drive something a few increments better. So unless we all agree on one platform to build our stuff on and all work together for the common good of mankind you’re still going to have to deal.

  72. Nice post Robert. I have to say in my limited experience that Brian Solis and the FutureWorks folks are top notch. I was offered some interesting inside experiences and a real chance to find out about some cool “office 2.0″ tech before anyone else. In business school I learned that marketing is the 4 P’s but then expanded to include a couple more – politics and PR. You still need PR even if you have a great product and it can be a very useful tool to influence others if used correctly. Some PR approaches are better than others as much as some sales pitches are better than others. You set yourself up as a big target with some big self inflicted problems to solve then whine about it when people who are trying to help solve those problems try to contact you. Not every product can be revolutionary – some are just improvements to existing things. Don’t be so dismissive. You can still get to the store in a model T Ford but my guess is you drive something a few increments better. So unless we all agree on one platform to build our stuff on and all work together for the common good of mankind you’re still going to have to deal.

  73. As a start-up founder, I’ve used many of your lessons with success, but you still need the access that traditional PR provides in my opinion. Our last start up, Jellyfish.com (recently sold to Microsoft to launch their cashback service), is a great example. We engaged a lot of bloggers personally with targeted content, but it wasn’t until we hired a firm that the Wall Street Journal agreed to listen to our story. Bottom line is that many Tier 1 bloggers like you use good PR firms as gatekeepers. That, in my opinion is the lasting value of traditional PR and the method I’m using in my new start up. My full argument is here:
    http://flywheelblog.com/2008/08/the-value-of-traditional-pr/

  74. As a start-up founder, I’ve used many of your lessons with success, but you still need the access that traditional PR provides in my opinion. Our last start up, Jellyfish.com (recently sold to Microsoft to launch their cashback service), is a great example. We engaged a lot of bloggers personally with targeted content, but it wasn’t until we hired a firm that the Wall Street Journal agreed to listen to our story. Bottom line is that many Tier 1 bloggers like you use good PR firms as gatekeepers. That, in my opinion is the lasting value of traditional PR and the method I’m using in my new start up. My full argument is here:
    http://flywheelblog.com/2008/08/the-value-of-traditional-pr/

  75. Well it’s hard to be bitter when you actually lay out a problem – solution scenario this good. I think all PR people ideally do want their clients to have that personal, one-on-one time with you and the the other influential bloggers in our clients’ space. But there are a lot of you and a lot more of us and even more companies who want the attention. I really wish it were as easy as asking a happy customer to take a few minutes every day to engage with you via Twitter, Friendfeed and your blog. But until then, all we can do is participate ourselves, and try to give you a story that is relevant to what you write about, in a non-pushy, engaging way. And then hope that you’ll eventually start to recognize our email, our name, and know that we’re not spamming you, we are paying attention, and decide to give the pitch a look.

    For companies outside of Silicon Valley (and there are a LOT of innovative companies outside of the Valley) the path to getting the idealistic kind of relationship that you lay out here is not easy. Cut us some slack?

  76. Well it’s hard to be bitter when you actually lay out a problem – solution scenario this good. I think all PR people ideally do want their clients to have that personal, one-on-one time with you and the the other influential bloggers in our clients’ space. But there are a lot of you and a lot more of us and even more companies who want the attention. I really wish it were as easy as asking a happy customer to take a few minutes every day to engage with you via Twitter, Friendfeed and your blog. But until then, all we can do is participate ourselves, and try to give you a story that is relevant to what you write about, in a non-pushy, engaging way. And then hope that you’ll eventually start to recognize our email, our name, and know that we’re not spamming you, we are paying attention, and decide to give the pitch a look.

    For companies outside of Silicon Valley (and there are a LOT of innovative companies outside of the Valley) the path to getting the idealistic kind of relationship that you lay out here is not easy. Cut us some slack?

  77. Everyone, thanks for the interesting conversation. Some other data. I interviewed Rick Smolan. He runs the company that does the Day in the Life series of picture books (the only picture book that’s been on the top of the New York Times Best Seller list).

    He had a PR firm send 1,000 books out to journalists and bloggers. He only got three reviews.

    That demonstrates better than anything that the old way of sending releases around just doesn’t work. Heck, this was way better than a release, it was an important book on the coming water disaster around the world.

  78. Everyone, thanks for the interesting conversation. Some other data. I interviewed Rick Smolan. He runs the company that does the Day in the Life series of picture books (the only picture book that’s been on the top of the New York Times Best Seller list).

    He had a PR firm send 1,000 books out to journalists and bloggers. He only got three reviews.

    That demonstrates better than anything that the old way of sending releases around just doesn’t work. Heck, this was way better than a release, it was an important book on the coming water disaster around the world.

  79. Dave: why don’t you come on a ride with me. Bring your Dash. I’ll bring my iPhone. We can compare what each does and why I don’t need a more full-featured GPS, but many in the world do.

  80. Dave: why don’t you come on a ride with me. Bring your Dash. I’ll bring my iPhone. We can compare what each does and why I don’t need a more full-featured GPS, but many in the world do.

  81. While reading your blog, it reminded me of when Tom Cruise (in “Gerry Maguire”) had an epiphany and wrote a 50 page discourse on what is right and wrong with the industry.

    Although there was some bold statements and massive generalization going on in your posting, I will refer back to this blog from time to time–because it’s fresh, it’s interesting and it needed to be said.

    I’m not in Tech PR, but many of the same rules apply in the industries LT Public Relations (www.ltpublicrelations.com) caters to – professional and financial services. Beyond generating awareness and garnering coverage, the true value us PR folks are providing is counsel, strategy and execution. As well as staying apprised on the most applicable mediums to tell the company’s story.

    The PR professional is needed now more than ever . . . but the PR professional better be willing to be flexible in the way he/she approaches each campaign.

    Crap, my comment went about as long as your blog. Enough said . . . for now.

  82. While reading your blog, it reminded me of when Tom Cruise (in “Gerry Maguire”) had an epiphany and wrote a 50 page discourse on what is right and wrong with the industry.

    Although there was some bold statements and massive generalization going on in your posting, I will refer back to this blog from time to time–because it’s fresh, it’s interesting and it needed to be said.

    I’m not in Tech PR, but many of the same rules apply in the industries LT Public Relations (www.ltpublicrelations.com) caters to – professional and financial services. Beyond generating awareness and garnering coverage, the true value us PR folks are providing is counsel, strategy and execution. As well as staying apprised on the most applicable mediums to tell the company’s story.

    The PR professional is needed now more than ever . . . but the PR professional better be willing to be flexible in the way he/she approaches each campaign.

    Crap, my comment went about as long as your blog. Enough said . . . for now.

  83. Robert,

    Sorry but I don’t buy this. Yes, you are trying to be constructive by giving some specific actionable suggestions to PR folks (big points for that) but isn’t the real problem here one of self-discipline on your side?

    Having the whole blogosphere kissing your ass and desperately competing to get your attention is a blessing earned by your years of contribution to the community (as much as it may feel like a curse!).

    If you don’t like all the attention, be more selective about the stories you cover. More importantly, turn off the faucet of incoming pitches entirely and do your own research.

    PR works because it helps make a writer’s job easier. You’re (at least partially) pissed off at yourself here because you know that following leads fed by a PR firm is a lazy way to do research. Any of us who write/blog are occasionally guilty of taking the easy way by relying on PR pitches for new stories.

    But many of the most innovative people and companies don’t have PR reps pushing material on you. Go find more of them independently like you often do (as in your recent posts about StackOverflow and Meebo).

    That’s “Journalism 1.0”. I’m sure you remember it.

    Scott Fox

  84. Robert,

    Sorry but I don’t buy this. Yes, you are trying to be constructive by giving some specific actionable suggestions to PR folks (big points for that) but isn’t the real problem here one of self-discipline on your side?

    Having the whole blogosphere kissing your ass and desperately competing to get your attention is a blessing earned by your years of contribution to the community (as much as it may feel like a curse!).

    If you don’t like all the attention, be more selective about the stories you cover. More importantly, turn off the faucet of incoming pitches entirely and do your own research.

    PR works because it helps make a writer’s job easier. You’re (at least partially) pissed off at yourself here because you know that following leads fed by a PR firm is a lazy way to do research. Any of us who write/blog are occasionally guilty of taking the easy way by relying on PR pitches for new stories.

    But many of the most innovative people and companies don’t have PR reps pushing material on you. Go find more of them independently like you often do (as in your recent posts about StackOverflow and Meebo).

    That’s “Journalism 1.0”. I’m sure you remember it.

    Scott Fox

  85. Robert Scoble: “He had a PR firm send 1,000 books out to journalists and bloggers. He only got three reviews. That demonstrates better than anything that the old way of sending releases around just doesn’t work.”

    It takes some tough leather sack to post this kind of nonsense for all to see, Scoble. Good on you!

    Dennis Howlett: “We’re arrogant in the extreme if we think our influence is any more than a single data point. Even the best and most respected analysts in the world will tell you that.”

    This may be true for the “best and most respected analysts,” Dennis, but what on Earth does that have to with Rielle’s real baby daddy? (I’m talking about Scoble.)

  86. Robert Scoble: “He had a PR firm send 1,000 books out to journalists and bloggers. He only got three reviews. That demonstrates better than anything that the old way of sending releases around just doesn’t work.”

    It takes some tough leather sack to post this kind of nonsense for all to see, Scoble. Good on you!

    Dennis Howlett: “We’re arrogant in the extreme if we think our influence is any more than a single data point. Even the best and most respected analysts in the world will tell you that.”

    This may be true for the “best and most respected analysts,” Dennis, but what on Earth does that have to with Rielle’s real baby daddy? (I’m talking about Scoble.)

  87. I particularly liked Mr. Howlett’s comment, “The real stories are the ones the companies don’t want us to write.” Those may be the real (read: interesting, insightful, important) stories, but are they the stories that generate traffic? Or, do canned press release stories like “Company A proudly released version B of product C which will revolutionize industry D!!” generate more traffic?

    I’d love to write a tech blog without any PR stories. I always thought if I DID start writing, I’d have a “No Press Releases” rule. But would anyone read it? Dunno.

  88. I particularly liked Mr. Howlett’s comment, “The real stories are the ones the companies don’t want us to write.” Those may be the real (read: interesting, insightful, important) stories, but are they the stories that generate traffic? Or, do canned press release stories like “Company A proudly released version B of product C which will revolutionize industry D!!” generate more traffic?

    I’d love to write a tech blog without any PR stories. I always thought if I DID start writing, I’d have a “No Press Releases” rule. But would anyone read it? Dunno.

  89. Robert -

    Thanks for not posting a PR shame list -and instead pointing out what things EXACTLY turn you off. I know everyone at our office reads your blog (probably because they want to pitch you!) and the things you have mentioned here are exactly the things that people practicing the dark art of PR need!

    Thanks!

  90. Robert -

    Thanks for not posting a PR shame list -and instead pointing out what things EXACTLY turn you off. I know everyone at our office reads your blog (probably because they want to pitch you!) and the things you have mentioned here are exactly the things that people practicing the dark art of PR need!

    Thanks!

  91. Thanx for taking responsibility for the current PR mess. LOL I’m sure it’s not your fault, totally. I am glad out this though, comes great tips for the next level of PR. Maybe new companies and products won’t rely exclusively on Techmeme juice but on bloggers who actually have time to test and thoroughly review one product at a time …

  92. Thanx for taking responsibility for the current PR mess. LOL I’m sure it’s not your fault, totally. I am glad out this though, comes great tips for the next level of PR. Maybe new companies and products won’t rely exclusively on Techmeme juice but on bloggers who actually have time to test and thoroughly review one product at a time …

  93. Geesh, a whole spew, in what could be summed up in a sentence. What do tech bloggers want? Access/Party invites, Freebies, Power (when they blog the earth should move), and constant ego-stroking, every single half millisecond. The fact of PR being broken, is so obvious, as to being redundant even stating such. It was broken, then, it’s broken now, and it will be broken in the future, nature of that beast, blogger snot-nose wipers notwithstanding.

    The good ones are invaluable to my mission.

    Your MISSION?? If that ain’t the height of hubris. You point video/cell phone cameras at people, badly. Well, I guess paying off mortgage’s could be your mission, just like everyone else. ;)

  94. Geesh, a whole spew, in what could be summed up in a sentence. What do tech bloggers want? Access/Party invites, Freebies, Power (when they blog the earth should move), and constant ego-stroking, every single half millisecond. The fact of PR being broken, is so obvious, as to being redundant even stating such. It was broken, then, it’s broken now, and it will be broken in the future, nature of that beast, blogger snot-nose wipers notwithstanding.

    The good ones are invaluable to my mission.

    Your MISSION?? If that ain’t the height of hubris. You point video/cell phone cameras at people, badly. Well, I guess paying off mortgage’s could be your mission, just like everyone else. ;)

  95. @ Coturnix –I read the whole thing too. It was actually kinda fun to read, since I was thinking of moving on to something else a couple of times right when Scoble noticed his readers attention was waning a little bit.

    BTW–I think a self-imposed FriendFeed or Facebook hiatus would work just as well as not blogging much for a whole month. I ditched Facebook and had the same sort of thing happen.

  96. @ Coturnix –I read the whole thing too. It was actually kinda fun to read, since I was thinking of moving on to something else a couple of times right when Scoble noticed his readers attention was waning a little bit.

    BTW–I think a self-imposed FriendFeed or Facebook hiatus would work just as well as not blogging much for a whole month. I ditched Facebook and had the same sort of thing happen.

  97. i read the whole thing too. i follow a lot of blogs but only a few long blog posts get my attention. this one got mine. thanks for sharing your passion, Robert. keep it up.

    ~C

  98. i read the whole thing too. i follow a lot of blogs but only a few long blog posts get my attention. this one got mine. thanks for sharing your passion, Robert. keep it up.

    ~C

  99. So Scoble — You Ask: ‘What Do Tech Bloggers Want?’ ”

    “Dick, You’re Talking To Yourself In Bold Face, Just Like Robert. Why?”

    It’s a rhetorical artifice I’m using to break up this wall of text, to indicate that even I’m overwhelmed with the sheer volume of words and am at risk of nodding off. Much like little cartoons, sub-heads or line drawings of fruit that can be colored in by children, they are merely guides to the reader that they may take a breath and then continue.

    “Thanks, Dick! You’re Always So Helpful And Giving!

    I learned it all from Robert. Now if he’ll just tell me what he wants…

  100. So Scoble — You Ask: ‘What Do Tech Bloggers Want?’ ”

    “Dick, You’re Talking To Yourself In Bold Face, Just Like Robert. Why?”

    It’s a rhetorical artifice I’m using to break up this wall of text, to indicate that even I’m overwhelmed with the sheer volume of words and am at risk of nodding off. Much like little cartoons, sub-heads or line drawings of fruit that can be colored in by children, they are merely guides to the reader that they may take a breath and then continue.

    “Thanks, Dick! You’re Always So Helpful And Giving!

    I learned it all from Robert. Now if he’ll just tell me what he wants…

  101. “I was the director of marketing and I used to think that if only Walt Mossberg…”

    “…made me focus and come up with innovative ways to get the word out about our products. Same thing I did at NEC, ”

    “Every time I get an email pitch it reminds me that I’m being treated like cattle. ”

    Man (FTLOFG), I have never seen so many extra I’s used in a piece. I get it, Robert. I understand its about you (I). Please value your readers’ time by learning how to edit (unedited videos are boring, too). I gave up on your point after two page scrolls. I hope you take some writing classes. I fear not. I.

  102. “I was the director of marketing and I used to think that if only Walt Mossberg…”

    “…made me focus and come up with innovative ways to get the word out about our products. Same thing I did at NEC, ”

    “Every time I get an email pitch it reminds me that I’m being treated like cattle. ”

    Man (FTLOFG), I have never seen so many extra I’s used in a piece. I get it, Robert. I understand its about you (I). Please value your readers’ time by learning how to edit (unedited videos are boring, too). I gave up on your point after two page scrolls. I hope you take some writing classes. I fear not. I.

  103. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m honestly tired of over inflated egos that many of the tech “a listers” have.

    An example… having 483,300 followers and using them to get an answer to a question. I suppose this is called crowdsourcing… but, what’s in it for us? Usually nothing.

    I think most of us appreciate all the hard work the “a listers” do but maybe it would be nice to see less self absorption, more fun and carefree like attitudes. I dunno… this is just off the top of my head. At 3:17 a.m.

  104. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m honestly tired of over inflated egos that many of the tech “a listers” have.

    An example… having 483,300 followers and using them to get an answer to a question. I suppose this is called crowdsourcing… but, what’s in it for us? Usually nothing.

    I think most of us appreciate all the hard work the “a listers” do but maybe it would be nice to see less self absorption, more fun and carefree like attitudes. I dunno… this is just off the top of my head. At 3:17 a.m.

  105. Even with all the ranting and raving the market isn’t yet listening to the conversations about “the methods” and the “means” of having real conversations. Rather the old school continues to look at all the “social stuff” as just an extension of what they’ve been doing for decades.

    Great post Robert, enjoyed it and will reference it.

  106. Even with all the ranting and raving the market isn’t yet listening to the conversations about “the methods” and the “means” of having real conversations. Rather the old school continues to look at all the “social stuff” as just an extension of what they’ve been doing for decades.

    Great post Robert, enjoyed it and will reference it.

  107. Two paragraphs really struck me here:

    “I got into blogging to celebrate the people who are improving our lives through technology and to hear their stories about how they developed it, so that we’d encourage other developers to bring us even more useful technologies.

    Scratch that. I got into blogging because Dori Smith and Dave Winer wanted to know what was happening behind the scenes while working at a computer magazine/conference company.”

    The first paragraph is how corporations write, the second is how real people communicate (and I know you intended both).

    Anything that can help us move from a to b has to be a good thing.

    All those awful corporate communications that read like they were written by robots that still haven’t grasped how human beings use words in normal conversation. And no-one actually believes words that are written like that – so why do companies always write that way?

    Blogging is enabling companies to communicate as if they were humans talking to other humans. I hope it continues to help make that change, to humanise the way businesses talk to people. Keep it up Robert.

  108. Two paragraphs really struck me here:

    “I got into blogging to celebrate the people who are improving our lives through technology and to hear their stories about how they developed it, so that we’d encourage other developers to bring us even more useful technologies.

    Scratch that. I got into blogging because Dori Smith and Dave Winer wanted to know what was happening behind the scenes while working at a computer magazine/conference company.”

    The first paragraph is how corporations write, the second is how real people communicate (and I know you intended both).

    Anything that can help us move from a to b has to be a good thing.

    All those awful corporate communications that read like they were written by robots that still haven’t grasped how human beings use words in normal conversation. And no-one actually believes words that are written like that – so why do companies always write that way?

    Blogging is enabling companies to communicate as if they were humans talking to other humans. I hope it continues to help make that change, to humanise the way businesses talk to people. Keep it up Robert.

  109. As an enterprise focused blogger, as a PR person I want you to know: Offer me interviews with 2 CIOs who have implemented your product as early adopters and I will listen to them, then write about your product. Don’t expect me to write about a beta product without customer validation.

    And on the other end of the bell curve don’t send me PR about the 500th customer on release 12 of your product.

    Finally, if you are really passionate about your vendor and its products, send me a personalized email or call me and show your passion.

  110. As an enterprise focused blogger, as a PR person I want you to know: Offer me interviews with 2 CIOs who have implemented your product as early adopters and I will listen to them, then write about your product. Don’t expect me to write about a beta product without customer validation.

    And on the other end of the bell curve don’t send me PR about the 500th customer on release 12 of your product.

    Finally, if you are really passionate about your vendor and its products, send me a personalized email or call me and show your passion.

  111. [...] What do the freaking tech bloggers want? A must read post from Robert Scoble about how tech bloggers want to be cared by PR people. That’s for the moment targeted for tech bloggers but soon you’ll see that attitude of them would be generalized and PR would really have to move or they’d be killed by new PR (PR 2.0 conversation centric people). Ok, they won’t be, but they should still move! [...]

  112. Fantastic post Robert, I think you crystallize the situation very well and I love that you bring all the posts and commentary together. The one thing that gets me in all of this is that while the tools and communication methods have changed, I don’t see it as a fundamental change that will rock the PR industry. PR has always been about taking products and ideas and using the proper channels to distribute that information. Good PR people build relationships – that’s the basis for a good career and being effective for your clients.

    Know your niche, that’s always been the rule. Today, the niche is just a lot deeper, and it’s made some people lazy. Good people will always find and be part of the conversation, and they’ll be respected for it.

  113. Fantastic post Robert, I think you crystallize the situation very well and I love that you bring all the posts and commentary together. The one thing that gets me in all of this is that while the tools and communication methods have changed, I don’t see it as a fundamental change that will rock the PR industry. PR has always been about taking products and ideas and using the proper channels to distribute that information. Good PR people build relationships – that’s the basis for a good career and being effective for your clients.

    Know your niche, that’s always been the rule. Today, the niche is just a lot deeper, and it’s made some people lazy. Good people will always find and be part of the conversation, and they’ll be respected for it.

  114. Chris, you’re rambling, why did you get into blog comments?>

    Because I love to talk about myself even in the third person. Asking questions, that I answer myself.

    Why so much noise, both pro and con, about the current state of this or that?

    By commenting on Scobles blog I can vicariously live his life, making my insignificant pointless unconnected non-early adopter god-forsaken out-of-Silicon-Valley wasteland of a Midwestern life seem that much more exciting. Drama for drama’s sake. A psychological projection defense mechanism. (note sarcasm).

    OK, Chris, wrap it up. What are some things that you blogger commenting types want?

    Lots of folding green stuff and airline tickets, that will work. And the Swedish Volleyball Team as an personal entourage, would be a nice touch.

  115. Chris, you’re rambling, why did you get into blog comments?>

    Because I love to talk about myself even in the third person. Asking questions, that I answer myself.

    Why so much noise, both pro and con, about the current state of this or that?

    By commenting on Scobles blog I can vicariously live his life, making my insignificant pointless unconnected non-early adopter god-forsaken out-of-Silicon-Valley wasteland of a Midwestern life seem that much more exciting. Drama for drama’s sake. A psychological projection defense mechanism. (note sarcasm).

    OK, Chris, wrap it up. What are some things that you blogger commenting types want?

    Lots of folding green stuff and airline tickets, that will work. And the Swedish Volleyball Team as an personal entourage, would be a nice touch.

  116. Scoble, you’ve now had two rants on how PR sucks. The only conclusion I can draw is that it appears you don’t have the proper level of influence that PR firms value. Otherwise, you would not be pitched by them over email, or other random methods. Good PR firms know the influencers their clients can best utilize. As such, they know how to reach out to them effectively. It appears you are getting hit up by rank amateur PR firms. Or, these PR firms don’t see the value in investing time in you. Good PR firms invest time and energy into building relationships with key “influencers”. If they aren’t investing in you beyond random phone calls and emails, they are either a) rookies or b) don’t view you as all the critical to the success of their client’s product.

  117. Scoble, you’ve now had two rants on how PR sucks. The only conclusion I can draw is that it appears you don’t have the proper level of influence that PR firms value. Otherwise, you would not be pitched by them over email, or other random methods. Good PR firms know the influencers their clients can best utilize. As such, they know how to reach out to them effectively. It appears you are getting hit up by rank amateur PR firms. Or, these PR firms don’t see the value in investing time in you. Good PR firms invest time and energy into building relationships with key “influencers”. If they aren’t investing in you beyond random phone calls and emails, they are either a) rookies or b) don’t view you as all the critical to the success of their client’s product.

  118. Mannnnnnnnnnnn Robert , you do write a lot. Took me 6 minutes to read the whole thing while Plurking, Twittering and Working at the same time. Anyways I like the opinions for PR, just now watch your self from those you mentioned above. They are all backstabber’s anyways…as u know already….

  119. Mannnnnnnnnnnn Robert , you do write a lot. Took me 6 minutes to read the whole thing while Plurking, Twittering and Working at the same time. Anyways I like the opinions for PR, just now watch your self from those you mentioned above. They are all backstabber’s anyways…as u know already….

  120. Hey Robert.

    Interesting post. I wish more bloggers would vent about this topic. It would be enlightening for everyone involved- you, me and the client.

    As Scott Fox pointed out on an earlier reply: “If you don’t like all the attention, be more selective about the stories you cover. More importantly, turn off the faucet of incoming pitches entirely and do your own research.”

    This is a really great point. Why bother having pr people anyway? Why not suck up most of your time researching the hottest and latest tech. As I am sure you know, there are some writers (bloggers, editors, print journalists) doing this already.

    Why close yourself to the possibility of a good story? Aren’t we pr people conduits (no pun, Robert) for this type of information? Otherwise, you will likely be hearing from users or looking this information up from other Web sources.
    Hey wait-
    If you are hearing from other users for news topics, it’s already out there and what fun is that to your readers? Rehashing old news.
    If you are getting it from other Web sources, again, news that’s already out there. These sources you are getting this information from are likely the ones who are taking advantage of what pr people can do for the collective knowledge base.

    We can get quick answers (most of the time) to your questions, we can get the meetings with C-level execs you desire (most of the time) and we can get you in front of the tech your readers want (most of the time). Did I mention nobody or anything is absolutely perfect? Not even the bloggers- which is what makes this exchange of information so great! Isn’t this what Web 2.0 is all about? I say, don’t undervalue what pr people can do for the collective knowledge base. Let the good pr people get to the top of your list of e-mails to read and open the channels of communication.

    Otherwise, you and your readers/viewers might miss out on a really great story.

    Thanks for the ear Robert. I’d love to see more exchanges on this topic across the blogosphere. Maybe it will help to encourage more discourse among pr people. As an industry, we pr folks need to work together to better serve both our clients and our media contacts.

  121. Hey Robert.

    Interesting post. I wish more bloggers would vent about this topic. It would be enlightening for everyone involved- you, me and the client.

    As Scott Fox pointed out on an earlier reply: “If you don’t like all the attention, be more selective about the stories you cover. More importantly, turn off the faucet of incoming pitches entirely and do your own research.”

    This is a really great point. Why bother having pr people anyway? Why not suck up most of your time researching the hottest and latest tech. As I am sure you know, there are some writers (bloggers, editors, print journalists) doing this already.

    Why close yourself to the possibility of a good story? Aren’t we pr people conduits (no pun, Robert) for this type of information? Otherwise, you will likely be hearing from users or looking this information up from other Web sources.
    Hey wait-
    If you are hearing from other users for news topics, it’s already out there and what fun is that to your readers? Rehashing old news.
    If you are getting it from other Web sources, again, news that’s already out there. These sources you are getting this information from are likely the ones who are taking advantage of what pr people can do for the collective knowledge base.

    We can get quick answers (most of the time) to your questions, we can get the meetings with C-level execs you desire (most of the time) and we can get you in front of the tech your readers want (most of the time). Did I mention nobody or anything is absolutely perfect? Not even the bloggers- which is what makes this exchange of information so great! Isn’t this what Web 2.0 is all about? I say, don’t undervalue what pr people can do for the collective knowledge base. Let the good pr people get to the top of your list of e-mails to read and open the channels of communication.

    Otherwise, you and your readers/viewers might miss out on a really great story.

    Thanks for the ear Robert. I’d love to see more exchanges on this topic across the blogosphere. Maybe it will help to encourage more discourse among pr people. As an industry, we pr folks need to work together to better serve both our clients and our media contacts.

  122. Jesus. What horse shit. You lament the crush of PR pitches, but yet you dedicate God knows how many poorly chosen words to, I presume, teach all of the folks that “don’t get it” how to “properly” pitch you. You’re a public figure, for some reason. Because of that, you’ll get what you get. If some PRs do abide by your rules, then you’re getting what you want. If they don’t then why don’t YOU build the relationships with the PRs that refuse. Clearly that’s what you want – the “relationships.” Because that’s all you blowhards seem to be crying for, which of course is ludicrous.

    How many of these groundbreaking, “life improving” products can any of us even name? Any? Really? Life changing? Clearly you think they’re out there in abundance, otherwise you wouldn’t waste your breath detailing how all these PRs should contact you about the life altering products they represent. They’re doing their job, some better than others, of course. What is your job, exactly?

    You realize that this isn’t rocket science, right? Eventually, they’ll figure out how you prefer to be pitched and they’ll do it. But at that time your argument du jour (which you won’t craft yourself, but rather rip off from two years worth of new complaints against PR pros) will be some other facade. And then you’ll still complain about it because this is a fabricated problem that you use for content fodder.

    The fact is, as unbelievable as it is, that this rehashed argument still generates page views. What can I say, we’re sheep.

    If you must complain, at least start following your own advice and make it original.

  123. Jesus. What horse shit. You lament the crush of PR pitches, but yet you dedicate God knows how many poorly chosen words to, I presume, teach all of the folks that “don’t get it” how to “properly” pitch you. You’re a public figure, for some reason. Because of that, you’ll get what you get. If some PRs do abide by your rules, then you’re getting what you want. If they don’t then why don’t YOU build the relationships with the PRs that refuse. Clearly that’s what you want – the “relationships.” Because that’s all you blowhards seem to be crying for, which of course is ludicrous.

    How many of these groundbreaking, “life improving” products can any of us even name? Any? Really? Life changing? Clearly you think they’re out there in abundance, otherwise you wouldn’t waste your breath detailing how all these PRs should contact you about the life altering products they represent. They’re doing their job, some better than others, of course. What is your job, exactly?

    You realize that this isn’t rocket science, right? Eventually, they’ll figure out how you prefer to be pitched and they’ll do it. But at that time your argument du jour (which you won’t craft yourself, but rather rip off from two years worth of new complaints against PR pros) will be some other facade. And then you’ll still complain about it because this is a fabricated problem that you use for content fodder.

    The fact is, as unbelievable as it is, that this rehashed argument still generates page views. What can I say, we’re sheep.

    If you must complain, at least start following your own advice and make it original.

  124. Robert, this same discussion/debate has been going on forever and not just between PR and bloggers but with “mainstream” journalists as well. Will it never end? Probably not, because there are poor practioners, pissed off bloggers and journalists, clients/corporate executives who want what they can’t have, bad journalists, bloggers who are bad are their job, etc.. In the end no one is happy. But that’s just a few bad applies in the barrell while the rest are pretty darned good, or really cool to work with.

    I’ve been a PR practioner since what seems like the beginning of time and the cycle just repeats itself.

    BTW, like everyone else I get shitty pitches from all angles. The other day I got an ad from PR Week (note the irony everyone) to advertise in their issue featuring boutique PR agencies. I’m a sole practioner and not even a boutique. I haven’t talked to their editorial staff in years, and I assure you their ad group knows nothing about me or my business. I also get pitches from local and national marketing and business publications whose ad sales staff are just as clueless.

    The real problem is that so many sales, marketing and PR people are flat out lazy and unfocused. They have their quote (whatever measurement that may be) to work from, with outdated lists and they just go for it. It’s really awful and everyone suffers.

    Robert, good to see you at the FORTUNE Brainstorm Tech Conference.

  125. Robert, this same discussion/debate has been going on forever and not just between PR and bloggers but with “mainstream” journalists as well. Will it never end? Probably not, because there are poor practioners, pissed off bloggers and journalists, clients/corporate executives who want what they can’t have, bad journalists, bloggers who are bad are their job, etc.. In the end no one is happy. But that’s just a few bad applies in the barrell while the rest are pretty darned good, or really cool to work with.

    I’ve been a PR practioner since what seems like the beginning of time and the cycle just repeats itself.

    BTW, like everyone else I get shitty pitches from all angles. The other day I got an ad from PR Week (note the irony everyone) to advertise in their issue featuring boutique PR agencies. I’m a sole practioner and not even a boutique. I haven’t talked to their editorial staff in years, and I assure you their ad group knows nothing about me or my business. I also get pitches from local and national marketing and business publications whose ad sales staff are just as clueless.

    The real problem is that so many sales, marketing and PR people are flat out lazy and unfocused. They have their quote (whatever measurement that may be) to work from, with outdated lists and they just go for it. It’s really awful and everyone suffers.

    Robert, good to see you at the FORTUNE Brainstorm Tech Conference.

  126. [...] Robert Scoble and Jason Calcanis are on one side while people like Brian Solis and Mashable are on the other side. The debate is long and will probably wage on forever but it’s out there. Bloggers feel with the growth of social media there’s no need for PR, while PR folks point to the behind-the-scene work they do and the relationships they have. Lessons to learn from this are to remember your best practices for pitching the bloggers: listen, be authentic, get involved in social media and don’t just send out blanket pitches. We believe PR is currently more than just media relations and press releases and now involves stuff like providing strategic advice to companies, issues management, being pro-active, etc. More here and here. [...]

  127. [...] Networks Calm down, this is not another “PR is dead” meme. I’ll leave that to this guy and this guy and this guy. However, after attending a Horn Group panel on Wednesday on the topic of “Is Social [...]

  128. gui ambros: Though it is unlikely that the good guys will stop blogging altogether, you do have a point. The problem is this, making money based on a flawed metric will only encourage people to exploit the flaws.

  129. gui ambros: Though it is unlikely that the good guys will stop blogging altogether, you do have a point. The problem is this, making money based on a flawed metric will only encourage people to exploit the flaws.

  130. These past few weeks I've been trying to keep up with your various pursuits and discoveries, which hasn't been easy. From discussing eGoverment to the behind the scenes look at the NBC Olympic site, you've put these encounters in true focus- your experience as an explorer. We tend to believe you because you live life in an open stream.

  131. These past few weeks I've been trying to keep up with your various pursuits and discoveries, which hasn't been easy. From discussing eGoverment to the behind the scenes look at the NBC Olympic site, you've put these encounters in true focus- your experience as an explorer. We tend to believe you because you live life in an open stream.