Are we helping or hurting by blogging about PR flame-outs?

I realize the fact that I’m writing this post subverts my whole point, but I’m going to write it anyway because I think it’s an important conversation.

By now, you’ve probably seen the recent PR flame-out between Ocean Marketing (i.e., Paul Christoforo) and a customer (“Dave”) on a number of blogs across the Web (namely Penny Arcade, which “broke” the “story”). If you haven’t read about it (and if you haven’t, just Google “Ocean Marketing” to witness the insanity), I’ll boil it down for you in a couple sentences. Customer sends email to marketing agency repping gaming company wondering when new PS3 controllers will ship. Agency owner responds and that leads to a heated (and childish–I might add) discussion between the two. The email chain is sent by “Dave” to a popular gaming blog (Penny Arcade) and posted and the next thing you know everyone is talking and blogging about it.

We’ve seen this movie before, right?

Think about the Bloggess ordeal earlier this year with a PR rep.

Think back to the run-in Scott Stratten had with a surly PR fella in Vegas a couple years ago.

We’ve definitely seen this movie before.

And, I’m hear to tell you it’s boring. And horribly unproductive.

We get it. There are PR people out there that are poor at their jobs. Isn’t that true in every industry?

We get it. This guy behaved like a jerk . But, last I checked, the internet (and the world) is full of people who behave like jerks. Chances are you probably follow a few of them (I know I do).

We get it. The conversation that was published was reprehensible. It’s disgusting. None of us would act like this.

So, why not leave it alone?

If you’re the customer (“Dave”), why send it to Penny Arcade when you know damn well they’ll publish it and you know what will happen next?

If you’re a blogger, why blog about it? (again, I get the irony here since I’m blogging about something I’m encouraging others NOT to blog about–hang with me)

Think about it.

By blogging about this incident you’re giving more credence to the situation than it deserves (this is nothing more than some ass-hat making a fool of himself–happens EVERY day on the Web, almost literally).

By blogging about this you’re reinforcing a perception that far too many people already have about our industry: That it’s full of shysters like this guy. Please stop now.

And, by blogging about this, you’re merely piling on. Adding fuel to a fire that’s already raging out of control.

Why not just read the original Penny Arcade post, ackowledge the fact that you don’t want to repeat this behavior ever, and move on.

Our industry will benefit.

And you’ll feel a whole lot better about yourself.

Won’t you?

PS: By the way, want some smart thinking about this “ordeal”? Check out Kevin Dugan’s post on the Bad Pitch Blog yesterday.

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88 comments on “Are we helping or hurting by blogging about PR flame-outs?

  1. kellyfletcherpr says:

    @pr20chat It’s helpful to learn from past mistakes…and try not to repeat them! #pr20chat Q1

  2. JGoldsborough says:

    @mshahab @arikhanson So it’s balancing accountability vs perception. Cause at same time, we r hurting PR’s perception. #pr20chat

  3. JGoldsborough says:

    @mshahab @arikhanson So it’s balancing accountability vs perception. Cause at same time, we r hurting PR’s perception. #pr20chat

  4. colleenmaleski says:

    @vedo @jgoldsborough @arikhanson @mdbarber always good to learn *successful* strategies :) Stealing your good idea is a complement #pr20chat

  5. JGoldsborough says:

    @jspepper Totally agree. There is a lot PR can do for biz perception and sales. We should be talking abt that. #pr20chat

  6. JGoldsborough says:

    @jspepper We don’t want to ignore the negative. But only focusing on negative contributes to the spin. #pr20chat

  7. JGoldsborough says:

    @vedo @arikhanson @mdbarber If we talked abt the wins as much as the f/ups, we’d start to see PR’sd perception change. #pr20chat

  8. jspepper says:

    @JGoldsborough Yep, you’re pretty much going to hate my upcoming blog post. 😉 #pr20chat

  9. teachpr says:

    @pr20chat @arikhanson We take what we need and leave the rest. Isn’t all info good for something? I think so! #pr20chat

  10. ElissaFreeman says:

    I’ve been thinking about this issue since @arikhanson first posted this – and then @ginidietrich

    weighed in a few days later. After reading through the comments, I really think there is a balance for both. We can learn from the positives and negatives. As PR pros, maybe we think it too ‘PR’/self-serving to talk about success; that others would say, “well, of course you think that campaign is great! You’re in PR!”

    I don’t think we should ever stop dissecting industry failures – but I do think we could do a better job of showing PR’s value – beyond the proverbial media impression, of course. We could start with our own clients (with their permission, of course) or our own organization’s successes. Maybe those of us with popular blogs could curate a go-to section where others could learn ‘what went right’.

    And I see several names below of people who could do just a thing!!

  11. Trace_Cohen says:

    I think it would be impossible not to talk about some of these PR blunders because they are actually really funny and sad at the same time. They basically become niche memes that we circulate around the industry and hope that no one will ever do again. I just heard a good quote that pertains to this, “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.”

    Now, a few people in the comments have suggested that we celebrate PR success and my only question to that is how? In other jobs like sales, if you make a big sale it is public and is something that you can celebrate. In PR however, if I get my client gets covered on a top tier website, they definitely don’t want to give any credit to me, let alone my agency. PR is for now behind the scenes but that is all starting to change.

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