June 24, 2004

Schwartz Nearly Gets It.

Fascinating, isn't it, to explore the parallel and simultaneous nature of blogging. Just the other day, I happened upon the first really good weblog written by a guy, who happens to be the President of a tech company (that's a VIM - very important modifier, as it's not vice-versa), who really gets blogging. That guy is Phil Libin, whose company is Corestreet.

But Corestreet's name isn't all over his blog, he believes in separation of church and state when it comes to blogging, and he avoids the usual C-Suite pitfall of blogging from his business card title. He talks about his brother, his love for all that is gadgetry, and he's really damn funny. The unintended result, or maybe the entire point, is that he's *likeable*.

incidentally, the PR firm getting credit for spurring Phil to blog is Schwartz Communications, and according to the case study, specifically, Chuck Tanowitz.

Fascinating so far. I am now Phil's biggest fan, since he's doing exactly what I urge CEOs to consider doing when I get questions on, how can we incorporate this blogging thing into our PR strategy..." Wrong question. Phil got the right answer. Chuck, kudos.

Contrast the Corestreet experience with the discussion going on over at Media Guerrilla, which I found through Elizabeth Albrycht.

The item up for discussion is whether or not a company should issue a formal press release when it launches a weblog. So far, they have one no, one yes, and me--well, I'm thinking it out right here.

Far from hypothetical, the question popped up in response to this press release announcing the newly-launched Wifinally weblog, written by the CEO, CTO, and VP of Marketing for Propagate Networks.

My answer to the question at hand will take more than one post.

What interested me, is that Propagate Networks has the same PR company as Phil Libin -- Schwartz -- as noted in the Propagate Networks' release. They are most likely serviced by different account teams, and it shows.

Compare Propagate's Wifinally with Libin's Vastly Important. While incorporating some similar practices, the weblogs are yards apart. Only one, I think, is really even a weblog. Only one, I predict, will get traction because it has a voice for readers to hold on to during the ride. That one is Libin's. The other reads, looks, feels, and smells like a mainstream wi-fi publication written by some industry veterans within an industry that is full of veterans.

And issuing a formal press release sans personality doesn't do anything to help the matter.

I understand that every client is different. I truly understand that many CEOs can't cross the chasm Libin has now widened with a challenge by example. Some of my clients could very easily, if they dared, be themselves online. They are likeable people with opinions beyond their industry, with a life outside of their business, that informs who they are within their businesses.

At the same time, because I care about weblogging, I don't encourage clients who wouldn't do well writing a weblog. I save the secret for the select few I know could resonate in this medium. I know three I wish would take the dare. I know six I will never mention blogging to. For them, there are brochures, white papers, bylined and contributed articles, and formal press releases.

But for the ones who get it, the game's wide open.

So, going back to the question at hand, perhaps what is better asked is, "Should Propagate Networks have issued a formal press release about its newly launched weblog?"

Yes. It fits with the voice, the tone, and from what I can tell, the objectives. It is more a publication than a conversation, so formal PR tactics can be used to support it.

Now, if you'd asked should Corestreet issue a press release announcing Phil Libin's weblog? I would have said no. Let the readership evolve there as it does naturally within this medium. Build trust and genuine relationships through the links that power our conversations here. Talk, don't report.

If a press release were to be issued for Libin's blog, I would want it to be better than, more than, different than, the usual, hum-drum press release.

More later--I have to run outta here and fast.