Archive for August, 2006
Robert Scoble’s rants about Google’s recent PR tactics were echoed by Rob Hof of BusinessWeek yesterday. It seems that, when announcing Google Apps, Google ignored bloggers in favor of pre-briefing a handful of traditional media such as The New York Times and InformationWeek. Even ZDnet’s Dan Farber didn’t get a look-in. Rob Hof rightly points out the irony of the situation: “that the world’s most prominent Internet company–one that’s specifically trying to get us all to do our work online instead of on the desktop–chose to brief mostly print publications.”
It’s not the first example I’ve heard of new media companies resorting to old world tactics. The Web 2.0 Conference - due to take place in San Francisco in November – offers attendance by invitation only, and is already turning away journalists that it considers to be second tier. Not very participatory is it? I thought Web 2.0 was about sharing, not restricting?
And that’s what I object to – the hypocrisy of it all. As a PR person, I know that there will be times when you need to control a message, and times when you will offer exclusives so that you can get that big splash. BUT if you’re going to preach to the world about participation, free and open dialogs between companies and customers, sharing, etc, you really had better practise what you preach.
SiliconValleyWatcher’s Tom Foremski today poured a whole load of cold water on the Web 2.0 phenomenon. Following the San Francisco Chronicle’s pick of “Cool Web 2.0 Sites” yesterday, Tom described the offerings as mere variants on the “Swiss-army-knife-of-collaborative/social-media-technologies.” Among the reasons for his scorn: any of the technologies could be reverse engineered by Google, Yahoo! or Microsoft in a heartbeat; there are way too many companies trying to do the same thing; and “communities are not created by press release.” Bravo!
Tom calls the trend more 1.5 than 2.0. That’s quite generous, considering Tim Berners-Lee reckons we’re still on Web 1.0.
Who am I to disagree with the father of the Web? I posted my concerns the other day that me-too enthusiasm is pushing us towards another bubble – and, of course, its inevitable burst. Social media technology is great, but it’s not a reinvention of the Web, nor is it enough to sustain another boom.
The New York Times published a lengthy article today alleging that Forbes.com has been misrepresenting its unique visitor numbers. Forbes.com boasts that “more people get their business news from Forbes.com than any other source in the world” but, according to the NYT, it cites outdated information from comScore Media Metrix to back up its claim. Forbes.com continues to quote comScore’s February data of 15 million unique visitors in a month, despite the fact that the latest July figures give the site a mere 7.3 million and place it slightly behind Dow Jones. The truth, of course, is hard to pin down, since rival monitoring firm Nielsen/Netratings only covers the US market and no one can agree on the best way to produce such statistics anyway.
Perhaps more interestingly, the article goes on to quote competitors’ assertions that a significant portion of Forbes.com visitors are drawn by its more provocative lifestyle pieces – stuff that doesn’t make it into the print edition. These visitors may well not be the top earners and business elite that Forbes.com claims to be its audience. Such articles include “The Hottest Billionare Heiresses” and “America’s Drunkest Cities.” Hmm, methinks they might have a point.
The New York Times also reports that Forbes.com’s controversial piece on career women topped the list of the site’s most popular postings and comments that it “seemed unlikely to dent Forbes.com’s standing in the Web rankings anytime soon.” In fact, it will likely send the site’s unique visitor stats through the roof. Perhaps the article wasn’t such a colossal error of judgement after all, but rather a calculated move in the battle for eyeballs and advertising dollars?
Everyone – including Rupert Murdoch – has been wondering how News Corp. intends to monetize its investment in MySpace – an environment that doesn’t immediately lend itself to advertising or traditional marketing techniques. In a move that is both surprising and obvious given News Corp.’s line of business, MySpace is considering launching a print magazine, according to a story in Advertising Age yesterday. AdAge speculates that the magazine would be produced by the team that publishes hipster mag Nylon.
It’s not very Web 2.0, but I’m pleased to see that the traditional media aren’t dead yet…
I was recently asked to speak at a lunch about being a woman in business. My first reaction was that it didn’t seem to be much of an issue these days and I really couldn’t think of much to say. Boy, was I wrong.
This week has shown me that the battle of the sexes is as violent as ever. First, Sharon Barclay of Blanc and Otus caused a furore with her views on why there are so many chicks in PR. To be fair, her words were blown out of all proportion and taken to mean that women are better liars than men – when in fact she was suggesting that women and men both lie, just for different reasons. Women, according to Barclay, lie to please others, while men lie to make themselves look better. Of course, PR professionals of both sexes took offense at the implication that PR was about lying.
Yesterday, Michael Noer of Forbes published an article outlining the reasons why men should not marry career women and quoting numerous social scientists. Apparently neither partner can cope with the wife earning more than her husband, and giving women more opportunity to meet other men in the workplace inevitably leads to extra-marital affairs. So violent was the reaction to Michael’s chain-’em-to-the-stove piece, that Forbes was forced to turn it into a point-counterpoint format, with the counterpoint written by Elizabeth Corcoran. Calling Michael Noer’s story “downright frightening,” Corcoran extolled the virtues of the two-career couple. The best bit in this sorry tale, however, is the reader comments, which prompted one guy to remark that he never knew he was so much smarter than the average Forbes reader. My favorites include “a ball and chain is always a ball and chain whether it has a job or not” and “there is absolutely nothing wrong with a woman trading up to a better man, whether she meets him at work or whereever else.”
On a less controversial note, BT issued survey results concluding that women over 50 make the best bosses because they are more trusting of employees who work from home or have flexible hours. Fascinating.
The best discussion I heard on this topic was an interview on NPR with Louann Brizendine, neuropsychiatrist and author of a new book, The Female Brain. If anyone really cares about the facts of the matter, I suggest they go out and read this book. Otherwise, just get on with your jobs, people!
BusinessWeek suggests a new way to judge whether we’re heading for another downturn: whether or not New York hotdog chain Gray’s Papaya is offering its “recession special” (2 franks and a drink for $2.75.) Apparently, Gray’s Papaya called the last downturn in March 2001 – eight months before the National Bureau of Economic Research.
I have to admit that I have been guilty of it myself, in fact I did it just the other day. Putting 2.0 at the end of a word to make it sound newer and more fancy, that is. But really, it’s getting out of control. Web 2.0 has been talked about for years, but now the moniker seems to be applied to anything and everything. SiliconValleyWatcher quotes Flickr’s Caterina Fake talking about BizDev 2.0, Cymfony has dedicated itself to exploring Influence 2.0, and my former colleague and creative genius James Warren has named his blog PR 2.0 (sorry JB!). I could go on.
It was originally a great idea, but like every great idea, it has been plagiarized and debased. Using 2.0 now is just lazy, derivative and a desperate attempt to associate with an industry trend. It reminds me of the times when every new start-up had e in front of its name, or when cloud terminology suddenly became popular in company names after Marc Andreessen launched Loudcloud.
Come on people – we’re better than this!
The day I saw a girl wearing legwarmers with no sense of irony , I knew that we are all destined to repeat the same mistakes – over and over again. As fashions begin to ebb, we all wonder how we could ever have worn them and vow never to do it again. But then the memory and the mortification fades and a few years later we find ourselves once again sporting tight jeans tucked into boots, big belts, baggy off-the-shoulder numbers and … legwarmers.
Point being? Just like we’ve forgotten how awful 80s fashions were, it seems to me that we’ve also forgotten the hard lessons learned during the most recent downturn. BusinessWeek is featuring under-age Internet entrepreneurs on its front cover, Silicon Valley is a-buzz with talk of Web 2.0 start-ups, and TechCrunch is partying like it’s 1999. Haven’t we been through this before? I seem to remember that it ended badly… or am I just a crazy naysayer?