War Without End Amen

U.S. Unit Patrolling Baghdad Sees Flaws in Bush Strategy is the title of the front-page Washington Post story today (subscription required), by Sudarsan Raghavan. The story is remarkable for several reasons. Most important, it is an unvarnished account of a US forces grunt patrol completely demoralized, cynical, abjectly fatalistic and ready to get the hell out of Iraq. I am old enough to recognize this attitude and this talk – identical to The Washington Postsoldiers in the drawn out hell of Vietnam.

Strictly from an Internet communications standpoint the story exemplifies the added gravitas and reach of print when it is translated to the web, and extended with comments from readers. This is a poignant, important story and readers treat it as such. Soldiers comment. The overall tone is resentment mixed with resignation. Readers help write the story, give it more angles, more weight. Increasingly, newspaper web sites are adding this feature. It works. 

CNBC – Where Would We Be Without It?

Us business news junkies would be lost groping in the information desert if not for constant breaking news updates from CNBC. CNBC is ubiquitous on the brokerage room floor, in news bureaus, PR agencies – anywhere business is done, analyzed or reported on. They make business news visual and give it personality (how interesting can you make a fractional percentage drop in Brent crude prices?). Now, with the launch of CNBC Plus they bring all that to the desktop with live streams from Asia, Europe and the US.

CNBC

Yes, that means you can do three others things and never leave your desk and still watch and hear TV business news. When you subscribe ($9.95/month) you can compile a portfolio (“My Playlist”) of your favorite clips and search through the archive. This is a great demonstration of the convergence of broadcast and the web.

Vote Now For Bloggie

You have until 10 PM TONIGHT to vote in the 7th annual web blog awards, or Bloggies, and it is imperative that you vote for Blogging Project Runway in the “Best Topical Blog” category.

Blogging Project Runway is an incredible blog that was instrumental in making Project Runway such a hit in 2006. The other reason, of course – not that I am prejudiced – is my nephew Jeffrey, who won the contest – and the money, and the car, and all that other stuff.

I was addicted to the blog not only because my nephew’s life was being played out before millions of people …. also because of the virtuosity of the blog handlers. They were cheerleaders, herders, judicious filters, personalities. I was surprised by the intense emotion surrounding the show and torrents of bloggers who needed to vent about the favorite/most reviled characters (Jeffrey sure had his share of both). If you want to see a successful PR blog that treats people like individuals and still appeals to the masses, see BloggingProjectRunway and vote in the Bloggies.

Jeffrey Sebelia winner, 2006 Project Runway - Vote in the Bloggies for BloggingProjectRunway

Edelman Shuts Up in Speak Up

Odd, isn’t it, that Edelman Worldwide blogs are called Speak Up when its prominent CEO blogger is absolutely mute about front-page news concerning his firms’ questionable antics in the blogosphere. In recent months Edelman has been buffeted by big stories about murky blog manipulation on behalf of Wal-Mart (see New York Times Wal-Mart Enlists Bloggers In P.R. Campaign) and trying to buy favoritism from bloggers by giving them expensive laptops on behalf of Microsoft (see Online Media Daily). As a prominent blogger often on a soapbox for transparency in the industry you would think that Richard Edelman would relish addressing these high-profile issues.

Not so. When Steve Safran, Managing Editor of Lost Remote politely asks Richard Edelman twice in his blog 6AM to “kindly share your thoughts on how the laptop giveaway fits or does not fit into your corporate ethics policies,” Edelman ignores him and instead exchanges pleasantries with fawning employees and associates.  Is this good P.R.? 

In the post Questionable judgement by Edelman in fake blog fiasco in Neville Hobson’s blog over 30 people express their degrees of mystification by Edelman’s silence. 

Richard Edelman started his blog in September, 2004. At first it was a curiosity, he was the only major P.R. agency CEO blogging. After the first year or so it became clear that he was not content with idle musings – he wanted to challenge the industry to clean up its act, embrace new technology, and re-define the process of delivery of information through the Internet. Admirable but dangerous.  He was taking a public advocacy position in an industry that is preternaturally secretive and slow to change.

This could be a case study of the perils of setting yourself up as a public figure through a blog – sooner or later you are going to have to face unpleasant business. When you do: be forthright, acknowledge the problem, deal with it. That’s standard public relations practice.

It was not that Edelman turned into a P.R. philosopher/activist for the good of the people. He saw an opening in the industry – to lead the charge in digital P.R. – and he seized it. It was smart business. But once you set yourself up as the lightning rod you’re going to get zapped - proved by the Microsoft & Wal-Mart imbroglios. The question is – when does Richard Edelman get off the soapbox and into the sandbox and enter the real conversation? (full disclosure – I worked for Edelman Worldwide briefly in 1999).

Relevant posts:

Edelman in the New World (PRBlogNews)

Edelman’s Rescue Plan For The PR Industry (PR Watch)