September 05, 2003

Ketchum Comes Unclued

Lest you think I exaggerate the sad state of BigPR, and its obvious lack of understanding about how to relate to markets on behalf of clients or on behalf of themselves, check out this new Kudos Confidential blog from Ketchum.

I point to this blog because it is a public weblog on blogspot, a place where I've hosted my own blogs for two years plus, a place where I earn my living in ways I'm really beginning to understand, a place where I started the first blogspot resident team weblog back in 2001.

For those who do not know, let me state that Kudos are awards bestowed by Ketchum on "Ketchumites" with the purpose of rewarding employees for delivering results for clients. At least that's how I remember them. I could be wrong. I do remember that the best entries uncoverd during the time-intensive Kudos nomination process were also often submitted for PR Week's Silver Anvil Awards--again, more awards bestowed by those with a vested interest in BigPR to those working in BigPR.

How do you spell, "Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz."

The fact that the first official Blog Ketchum has launched on blogspot serves as a back-patting interoffice circle jerk (sorry for the mixed metaphor--I thought it might give you all something to ponder as you drift off to sleep)--masquerading as a hip controversial PR Real World episode--is laughable.

And that's being kind.

It's actually tragic.

It demonstrates perfectly the tragic state of BigPR: The mighty have fallen; get out the violins.

Meanwhile, in the ranks at Ketchum, I know of a few bloggers who do not have an AAE, AE, SAE, VP, SVP or Director title. In fact, they work in a capacity where most of the folks with those titles on their business cards wouldn't think to ask these workers' opinions about marketing, business, and the Internet.

Yet, I would wager that these individual bloggers are tied into more voices, knowledge, business-related interactions, and personal relationships of value by genuinely participating in this space than the highest ranking, highest billing PR Strategist in that same organization.

You see? That is how it's working.

And they don't have a clue.

You may be wondering if I'm risking anything by discussing a former employer this way. Maybe. But I don't see this post that way. I am discussing a Ketchum weblog launched in a public medium--one in which I am a stakeholder. My weblog is an integral part of how I earn a living doing what I do.

In that respect, it is my job to comment on relevant happenings here. Do you see? That any large PR firm would come here with a flawed concept would beg my pointing it out to allied readers.

That's how I see it. And you?

Stupid Tactics from The World of Big-PR Part Deux:

PR spamery alert from Dan Gilmore

And Mitch Kapor weighs in too.

Bye Bye Big PR

Big PR is not quite dead, but it is dying an agonizing death that's getting difficult to watch. At least for anyone who's suffered through the cubes and brainstorms of large agency life for any time at all. Those of us who remember when what we did really did matter. Just a little. Never a lot. But still, some.

The reason for Big-PR's demise is quite simple: They can't afford to operate without charging inflated rates. That's a pickle. Because those of us out on the market now--the higher-priced talent separated (voluntarily or involuntarily) from Big PR over the last two years--can offer better services at half the price or less.

Where once Big PR boasted about best practices and a global network of communications professionals, they don't have that anymore. Instead, we are the ones creating nimble networks among one another, which are growing larger and more valuable. We are nimble enough (most of us working out of our homes) and lean enough to charge much less and deliver much more. A network of one-off specialists, experts in their areas, linked through the power of the Web and personal contacts.

Voice to voice, we are changing the face of PR and marketing. You heard it here first.

I'm not sure where BigPR thought most of us would go--the army separated veterans. Because many are owned by fat-cow parent companies, my hunch is that their layers of blubber have made it impossible for them to look that far down the organizational food chain. But a whole bunch of us are out here. And we're starting to eat well. And we're working with the clients we used to work with there.

Clients who are old friends. Clients who are happy to pay our rates and get the same work they got for a hell of a lot less.

Yes, it's really happening.

Even the largest of companies are growing tired of BigPR staffing projects with fresh-out-of-college, inexperienced, lower-level people (that is the only category of PR flacks large agencies can afford to keep only partially billable, you see), yet charging as if they were staffing the project with brain surgeons--or attorneys.

It's common for BigPR to bill out an assistant account executive--which is the administrative assistant of PRville--at $120 to $140 an hour. VP's are billing out at nearly $200 an hour, and SVPs commonly around $250 or more per hour.

You tell me.... Why would anyone pay it in a tight economy when they can get smart, senior level people out on their own for around $100 an hour. And thanks to the Web, the same clients who are paying inflated rates to BigPR can tap into an entire network of loosely joined ex-agency talent that shares leads, news, and really cool gossip I wouldn't even tell you about here. We're self organizing, and it ought to scare the pants off of them.

But it doesn't.

Because they can't afford to see that the emperor is walking around butt naked.

it's okay Hossein

The status for us YACCS comments users: he's working on it. No problem, Hossein. YACCS has been a reliable comment facility for me for two years. I can wait a few days. Hope it all goes smoothly.

September 04, 2003


I have just four spare minutes to write. And really, so much, that I'm not sure what to write. I'm trying, you know? I really am. And it is trying. I haven't had five seconds to decompress since the Hospital adventure. For better, I guess, not worse, the work I had basically none of during the past month has all come in at once. And it's hard stuff, not easy stuff.

Jenna's going through some changes. You know? To be expected. She has every right. But the screaming.... Everything at once for her too: start kindergarten, so sick, hospital, needles, daddy home to see her, back to kindergarten, cat gone. All within a week. No wonder she's screaming a lot. She can go from joyous laughter to shrieking in five seconds flat. It's trauma. I know that. And it's also traumatizing.

When will I sleep? Soon I hope. Right now sleep is something I have to have before I can blog more. My mind is muddy, and what little clarity I do have must be savored and saved for Jenna and my paying clients.

So that's it.

Summer winds down and I wonder if things will ever be any different.

Bet you wish I had just stayed quiet.