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Cluelesstrain: PR Blogging Practices

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The Cluelesstrain has had a long run in the past five years. First, the train had to pull into the Online Practice in 1999.

Then, in 2001, the train pulled into the Homeland Security Practice station. In 2002, the station was the Sarbanes-Oxley Practice. The Cluelesstrain is tired, but thankfully it has a stop in the Blogging Practice station for the next year.

Engineer Jeremy is here to help you understand the point: just like most agencies dropped online practices in 2000, and Homeland Security and Sarbanes-Oxley practices disappeared the following years, Blogging Practices will be either swallowed up or killed in the next year.

Here is why. Most firms realized that the differences between online and print media was moot. If the online team pitched a WSJ.com reporter, but the article showed up in the Wall Street Journal, who took the credit? Sadly, some agencies still split the practices, but most agencies get that an integrated campaign – online, print, and blogs – makes the most sense. As for Sarbanes-Oxley and Homeland Security practices, the pratices had short shelf lives.

I have posted about this in the past: the inanity of blogging practices, but it came up again for a few reasons. Recently, Holmes Report reported the launch of MS&L Hass Blogworks. Unlike the MWW Cluelesstrain Blogging practice, at least MS&L Hass has blogging experience with GM’s Fastlane Blog, and the firm is planning to launch its own blog.

But, shouldn’t this practice just be part of the overall integrated campaign? Did they really need to spin it off with its own cutesy name?

Another passenger on today’s train is Denver-based XStatic Public Relations. I came across its press release announcing a blogging service. In fact, the first line of the press release touts:

As the number of Internet Weblogs surpasses 4 million, Xstatic Public Relations, a Denver-based communications agency, has added blog relations to its list of services for companies looking to share company information and manage their reputations online.

How hard would it have been to verify the number of blogs being tracked? They could have easily gone to Steve Rubel’s post on IceRocket revamping its blog search engine, and found out how many blogs are being tracked by IceRocket (10MM), Technorati (9MM) and PubSub (9.5MM). When I did call the firm to ask where they got the 4 million figure from, I mentioned Technorati. The site’s name was met with silence.

A special seat near the conductor, though, is saved for the Big Blog Company. The company

is a place where you go to get a blog for your company, for your project or just for fun. If you want to engage your customers, show off your expertise, tell your side of the story, handle a PR crisis, or make your web-presence a walk in the park, let us give you a hand.

So, what they do is do blogs for corporations. Just like the good, ol’ days during the dot-com era where you couldn’t throw a stick without hitting a Web/Internet consultant. They get the special seat, though, for claiming to be blog experts, and then refusing to be transparent in a post on supposedly a PR firm setting up fake blogs. The first thing that PR bloggers tell a client that wants to blog is ABT – Always Be Transparent. If the firm consulting on blogs can’t be transparent, how can they hold the clients tothat level of honesty?

There are some tickets being held for this Cluelesstrain – for Blogging Planet and for Steve Rubel – just in case I need to give them out.

In their interviews, both Lord Chadlington (EU and UK) and Jeffrey Sharlach (Latin America) noted that blogs are very US-centric, and that is why, while their firms are aware of them, they have not been been actively targeting blogs.

That is why Blogging Planet has not yet been given their ticket for the Cluelesstrain. Blogging Planet is concentrating on the EU and the UK. Most of that market is still very young – maybe even immature – when it comes to blogging. Blogging Planet has at least a two year lead time, and in that time can build a nice business.

In the past, I wrote about CooperKatz launching Micropersuasion as a separate practice. A comment by Rubel on his anniversary post made me wonder, though, if Micropersuasion might be leaving CooperKatz as a whole, and just becoming a blogging consulting firm. Maybe I’m reading into his comment – Thanks everyone. Stay close for some big news in the coming weeks – but it does make you wonder. I’ll hold onto his ticket until he announces his news.

On a side note, recently, someone that I respect brought up an issue, that some of my posts could be construed as anti-agency. No, it’s more an anti-stupidity, hence the launch of the cluelesstrain. If I were anti-agency, I would not be using to interview the top PR people in the world, who tend to either be with firms, or founders of firms.

Now, if “yo hablo espanol” or “falo Portugues” I would be targeting Jeffrey Sharlach to hire POP! PR as a blog consulting firm for his clients in Latin America – showing my love for the agency life….

Jeremy Pepper is the CEO and founder of POP! Public Relations, a public relations firm based in Arizona, USA.

He authors the popular Musings from POP! Public Relations blog which offers Jeremy’s opinions and views – on public relations, publicity and other things.

Cluelesstrain: PR Blogging Practices
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