Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Day 20: MSFT's PR agency doesn't get blogging, at least in Europe

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 20, 2006

It is Day 20 and still no word from Paul Abrahams, the head of European operations for PR powerhouse Waggener Edstrom, following his public announcement that he doesn't "get blogs."

Mr Abrahams slammed the BlogoSphere in an article for PR Week in the UK, and then took off for a long vacation.

I wrote about whether it was a smart move for one of the PR industry's top executives to admit to such a blind spot. After all, PR agencies are busy creating "new media practices" to show off to clients that they really, really, do understand blogs and blogging. Apparently not all of them do and I respect Mr Abrahams' honesty.

From PR Week (Subscription required.)

Blogs: Smokey and the Bandit Part 4?
Paul Abrahams - 31 Aug 2006

Is blogging the 21st-century equivalent of citizen band radio, the personal radio technology that became so popular in the late 1970s that it was included in a Coronation Street plotline and spawned a generation of bad Burt Reynolds 'Good Ol' Boy' movies?

Source: Microsoft's PR agency admits it doesn't "get" blogs!

Just a couple of hours after I wrote my post, his colleague, Frank Shaw, one of the earliest PR bloggers, did the right thing and jumped right into the discussion by posting comments and posts to try to quell any negative publicity.

Mr Shaw did this while in the middle of moving his family and home to Seattle. I'm sure he'd rather be doing something else.

Mr Shaw expected Mr Abrahams to jump into the conversation. Especially since this subject was picked up by a lot of people in Silicon Valley and in the UK. Robert Scoble, a former Microsoft blogger and one of the top names in the blogosphere wrote about it, and so did many others in Silicon Valley and in the UK.

There were many offline, private conversations on this subject--yet there is still no word from Mr Abrahams nearly three weeks after his provocative column. Maybe I just assumed he wanted a debate? Or maybe he is still on vacation, (European vacations typically run to at least six weeks per year and sometimes more for senior executives.)

I'm keen to get this discussion moving forward. This is a perfect opportunity to help those that don't "get it."

There are two ways to respond to negative publicity events: one is to move right away, as Frank Shaw aptly demonstrated (he "gets" blogging because he blogs) by jumping into the online conversations as soon as you can. The second way is the keep your head down and "wait-for-it-to-blow-over" strategy.

We have here the potential for a classic case study that offers both approaches from within the same PR firm. Which one do you think will work best?

[Will Frank get here first before Paul . . . :-) ]

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