Jay Rosen – I Can Do Whatever The F@#k I Want

“I am a tenured professor of journalism, I can do whatever the fuck I want,” said Jay Rosen (right), NYU tenured professor of journalism. Rosen was speaking at the New York Social Media Club meeting, at Edelman Worldwide New York headquarters, last Tuesday.  

Rosen was explaining why mainstream media would never undertake his current project of “Pro-Am” journalism fittingly called  Assignment Zero. The schtick is to combine ”citizen journalists” and “professional” journalists to collaborate on a giant, evolving story.  Rosen says he already has 700 people signed up for the project, nearly triple what they expected. Every edit, thought, revision is recorded on the web. All this is intended to prove … ?

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Rubel Succumbs To Twitter Twaddle As Head Glows Brighter

10:04 AM: I go to the bathroom and realize there is no toilet paper 10:08 AM: I steal toilet paper from Starbuck’s (shhh, don’t tell). 10:12 AM: I am back in bathroom and … do you really want to know what I do? Did you know that Steve Rubel went to bed at 10:02 PM Sunday night? Do you know that a guy in Italy, right now, is jabbing a pen in his ear and picking his nose?

Steve Rubel shiny head Yoda levitates in Twitter

Twitter, in case you are blessed by not having any maniacal Twits around you, is this ultra annoying little widget that informs you of every inane move and miniscule thought of other Twits around the globe. “A list” blogger, shiny head Yoda and incorrigible link whore Steve Rubel (right) is head Twit. He promised days ago on his blog never to mention the “T” word again but that has not stopped him from obsessively twitting.

Somebody stop Rubel before he twits again.

In a recent Advertising Age article Rubel gushed that Twitter “rocked the web” with an “avalanche of buzz” because blogging lumerati Robert Scoble and Jason Calacanis were now Twitting (“I am in a cab on my way to the airport” “I am buying a latte” “I just burped”). Rubel is agog that this “global phenomenon” can be viewed real-time through Twittervision.com and promises more great applications to come. Does Rubel have a stake in the company? Has he gone too far up the river … have his methods become unsound? Are there people at Edelman who actually have to sit through meetings with Rubel while he gushes Twitter twaddle?

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The Revolution According to Richard

Coming next Monday, April 2, in-depth interview with Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman Worldwide, the world’s largest independent public Richard Edelmanrelations firm.

Edelman’s Me2Revolution is the big first mover and widely acknowledged PR agency leader in “social media” (we’ll call it that until a better term evolves). The Me2Revolution has been a semi-secretive skunk works that has taken serious hits for questionable blog practices for clients Wal-Mart and Microsoft.  I have been a consistent critic – on this blog, other blogs, and Edelman blogs – of Edelman’s silence and ineffective PR on its own behalf for the past year as its social media practices were scrutinized in high-profile mainstream media. Suddenly but inexorably, the ground shifted. Edelman became the story, overshadowing its clients. And the longer it was silent, or not fully forthcoming, the more we wanted to know.

There are other reasons to delve into Edelman’s Me2Revolution. PR agencies are anxious to get a piece of the “social media” pie if they can figure out what it is, how to measure it, and how to bill it.  This is like catching water in a collander as blogs, MySpace, YouTube, Second Life, Twitter and other community enhancing applications rise in favor and then fall off the cliff.  How do you build a foundation in social media when the Internet is an inherently transitory, ethereal place that can blow back and burn you in a flash?  

Edelman's me2revolution

The catalyst for this interview was a blog spat. I wrote an appreciation of Strumpette that included Amanda Chapel’s evisceration of Me2Revolution and a prediction of its imminent demise. Richard took exception in a comment on this blog and insisted I check with him in the future before posting on the topic. Fine, I said, set the record straight with a Q & A here. 

The groundrules for the Q & A were simple: I ask tough questions, Edelman gives straight answers.  No prerequisites, no topic off limits. I asked Richard’s toughest critics for advice on topics to explore. I gave him seven multi-part questions and encouraged him to expand as much as he could with specifics (understanding that his competitors would like to know everything) and anecdotes.

This is an exciting and difficult time for the public relations industry. New media/social media is demanding that we alter our traditional practices to account for a new media landscape and consumers who are increasingly used to information unimpeded. We want access, we want answers, and the more bull that is fed through the Internet the less likely we are to accept it. Some question whether or not PR should even be in the social media space, and if our efforts here skirt some ethical boundaries.

“The most difficult barrier to entry for established agencies is the mental shift from talking from a set of messages to relating in a continuous dialogue. We must move from selling to listening then speaking,” says Edelman. Tune in next Monday for the full interview. Between now and then we will be examining some of the current social media public relations practices being espoused at Edelman and elsewhere. 

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Blog Bubble Bursts And Leaves A Big Mess

corporate blogs still suck

Mainstream media (MSM) is having a grand old time beating up on bloggers these days.  The catalyst is ”The Cult of the Amateur,” a book due out in June (great pre-launch book publicity here, by the way), that is giving MSM journalists a platform to condemn all bloggers as morons, idiots and worse, amateurs. Andrew Keen, the author of The Cult, argues that “citizen journalists” or amateur bloggers, depending on the prism you view the blogosphere through,  are filling up with the Internet with so much junk that it is burying all useful information or creative thought under a mountain of garbage that is negatively impacting the culture. Not the culture!   

Yes, in the good old days – a couple of years ago – we believed that this cheap and easy web publishing format would revolutionize and democratize the creation and dissemination of information. The bloom is off that rose.  

There are now more than 55 million blogs, or 175,000 new blogs created every day, or two new blogs every second, according to Technorati.  Although I don’t buy the ‘Kill them all and let God sort them out’ mentality of the latest blog piling there are reasons why the blogosphere has become particularly ugly and crowded these days. 

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Mr. D Lives! Simon says Menu Foods kills kitties … pet owners rise up and sue the bastards…

Tuesday morning Mr. D went into the vet for the operation to insert a feeding tube. He had a 50/50 chance, the Vet said, and she gave us the option of ending it. We wouldn’t do it, of course, and hoped that Mr. Darcy, despite his very Maine Coon-ish gentle nature, would be a fighter (see last post). He made it through the operation and now he’s being fed increasing doses and retaining his food. These are good signs. If he keeps up this pace Mr. D could be coming home Friday. Simon, left, will be waiting for him, with Schuster and Elizabeth and Jackie Chan. As you can tell, Simon is cautiously optimistic about Mr. D’s condition but still worried. 

Menu Foods killed at least 7 animals to test tainted food in the massive, deadly pet food recall. To determine if their food was indeed tainted the company rounded up 40-50 animals (why can’t it give an exact number?) and gave them what they believed to be tainted pet food. At least 7 died in that test, said the FDA, as reported in USA Today,  so they figured they had a problem on their hands. Was there no better way? Why don’t we round up 50 random people, give them Flank of Mad Cow injected with avian flu and see what happens. Simon does not approve of this kind of crude, lethal testing on kitties, although he honors their sacrifice and valor. He wishes he knew their names. 

Simon applauds the work of Gina Spadafori, editor of the blog PetConnection. He says she is doing a great job as the central repository of credible news – keeping a record of sick and dead pets. She is rounding up and commenting on news coverage daily, updating the list of tainted pet food.  All this archival information will be valuable. The first lawsuit is in the works. Phoenix, a tabby, became sick and had to be put down, says the complaint, which could become a class action. Dawn Majerczyk of Chicago says dogs and catthat the company knew about the deaths and did not order a recall. Menu Foods of Canada was completely unprepared for this, even though they had been testing for some time.

The company did serious, probably lasting, perhaps even irrepairable damage to itself by not communicating effectively, if at all, with angry and confused pet owners. Brands like Iams, Eukanuba, and Nutro now have to prove why they are worth a premium, if they should be trusted at all. Bad PR. Dead animals. Angry pet owners. Makes for a potent class action brew, if nothing else, Simon says.

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