Saturday, March 22, 2008

Blogosphere's Untamed Ugliness

When a college-aged intern named Kathryn at Qorvis Communications fired off an Email to TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington requesting information on how to purchase an article reprint little did she know that she was about to experience the untamed ugliness of the blogosphere.

Qorvis Gets Crunched
Social Times

For the sake of full disclosure, Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) competes against Qorvis from time-to-time. I know one of their partners – Doug Poretz ( – fairly well and think highly of him and the firm.

I’m also an avid TechCrunch reader. I find the reporting, insight and analysis of their bloggers to be helpful in understanding the market, its players and the trends.

After reviewing the comments and dialogue on CrunchNotes ( I think there are a couple of important lessons learned from this situation:

1. Similar to media outreach and industry analyst relations, PR consultancies must task its experienced and well-trained staff with blogger relations. The traditional agency model of cowboying up a group of junior staffers for tactical execution has proven ineffective. Bloggers must be treated with the same professional respect and courtesy as other influencers. It’s not happening right now. Arrington notes in his comments the constant deluge of press releases TechCrunch receives from uninformed PR hacks.

2. Regardless of the diligence and professionalism PR representatives demonstrate, we have to journey into the blogosphere with a thick skin. There’s no peer review process as there is in traditional publishing organizations. To get cut-through, many bloggers rely on an emotional, combative stance.

3. Never pick a fight when challenged. It merely confers credibility to the blogger’s post or comments and keeps the issue relevant. It was a misstep for Qorvis’ Seth Thomas Pietras to go after Arrington on his own blog. He will never win that fight.

Seth Thomas Pietras, March 22, 2008

Congratulations for picking on and publicly humiliating a college intern who was giving you the courtesy of asking permission to use your content for our benefit. Given how dumb this issue is, I’m baffled at the extent to which you all have gone to attack this smart, capable young woman. I hope you feel great about yourselves. Have a great long weekend.

Seth Thomas Pietras
Senior Director
Qorvis Communications

Mike Arrington, March 22, 2008

Seth -
Assuming you are actually with Qorvis.

I’m not sure you understand the amount of time that firms like yours take up by throwing random crap - mostly press releases - our way. To then send yet more email that shows you don’t know that we are not a print publication is yet more time wasted.

I took the time to post this in the hope that PR firms will begin waste less of my time in the future. In that way, it is an investment.

It may very well be that your intern is smart and capable. Combine that with an ability to do a Google search before sending out emails like this, and you’ve got yourself a winner. A quick tutorial to your staff on what a blog is and isn’t might be a good idea too. Or, as a last resort, actually visit my site.

You did not request permission to use my content. I get requests like that occasionally and know what they look like. You asked for a reprint of an article, which print publications do. So, in addition to wasting my time, you are also a liar.

Finally, I am not humiliating your intern specifically. Her last name was removed. I am “attacking” your firm, not an individual. If you take this kind of liberty when you spin your clients - specifically twisting the facts and then injecting emotion into your message, I feel badly for them. They deserve competent and ethical representation.

1 comment:

Chris Parente said...

Marc -- great post. I find the faux outrage in the Qorvis response a little strange. If they asked this woman to pitch without telling her how to prep first, they are the ones who put her in a position to fail.

It's not rocket science. Blogs are no different than other media. Show enough respect to understand the blog and read the blogger's content prior to pitching.