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CNET Has a Point … But Bloggers Go On The Attack

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I have not always been the biggest fan of C/Net News.com – and during the dot-com days, would joke that their traffic was made up of PR firms, in-house PR people and the VC firms.

Thankfully, since the bust, I have less a jaded view of C/Net.

And this is why – when they get it right, they get it right. And, Molly Wood got it right.

Wood has valid points, such as:

Thanks to the Internet, there’s a new model for controlling information–that is, a complete lack of control. Bloggers, rumor sites, and even inside sources are running the show, but tech manufacturers are still stuck in their Cold War-like product release behaviors.

Or, when she notes that because of the changing nature of journalism:

But thanks to the new model of leak, rumor, and slow-in-coming confirmation, that system is becoming increasingly untenable. And you’re the ones who are missing out.

Now, I am all for grassroots journalism – heck, I think my interview with Dan Gillmor points to that, and I respect the grassroots journalists that blog with ethics. And, I disagree with Wood pointing to Weblogs, Inc or Denton’s Gawker Media – having worked with them, and talked to them, I find them to be pretty above the board.

But it is more telling of the circular nature of the blogosphere that what we read is not about the valid points that Wood has, but about Jason Calacanis’ response.

Wood’s post has implications for public relations – and, as a leading PR blogger – I am going to put my neck on the line. This is an issue not only for mainstream press, but also for public relations firms. I, for one, support Apple in the lawsuit – because I have worked for companies that have had information leaked to Websites (what would be considered blogs today). The leaks not only hurt the PR plan and program, but hurt the company – as the competition now had a jump on the upcoming products.

Sometimes, you don’t just test the waters, you go forth and take a stand.

Wood’s last paragraph is a telling one for PR.

Those manufacturers need to wake up and smell the RSS feeds–the information’s already out there. Quit acting like you’re doling out spoonfuls of sugar to the deserving few. Your audience is getting its sugar elsewhere.

Stop and think about that one – are you going to counsel your client to work with the blogs, or push against them? This is not an area that PR can harness or control, but it is something we need to take a stance on.

The point is that we can not control “news,” because someone – now, usually bloggers – is always wrecking it. When sensitive information gets out, a company has a right to say WHOAH. Was that intellectual property theft?

Think about it: how many times is the information bad? The bad information creates a PR problem, but the larger problem is credibility. Who then is a reliable source of info? In this day and age, that is critical. Look at all the misinformation that is out there – from blogs, from mainstream media – and think about who you trust nowadays. That’s the issue people have not really thought through: can you trust your souce of information, whether that be a newspaper, TV news station, blog site, etc?

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.

CNET Has a Point … But Bloggers Go On The Attack
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