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

It's Time For PR Community To Grow Some Cojones And Out Silicon Valley Bullies

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 30, 2011

Vanessa Camones is a veteran PR professional. She is the founder of theMIX agency and today she did a very bold thing: she outed one of Silicon Valley's leading personalities, Mike Arrington, the editor of Techcrunch as a bully.

In her post titled: DIGIDAY:DAILY - Entrepreneurs Should Say No to Silicon Valley's Bully, she writes that many startups would love to have coverage by Techcrunch.

But it's also a gamble that's often not worth taking because TechCrunch founder and editor Michael Arrington has proven he's willing to use TechCrunch as his personal vehicle for settling scores. It's why I advise my clients to steer clear of him.

She provides an example of Mr Arrington's personal attack on Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr. She says it was a warning.

If you don't give Mike dibs on writing about your company's latest milestone, you too risk having your personal reputation publicly smeared on TechCrunch, and all of your peers, competitors and potential investors will see it. He will, in his own words, "blindside" you. Mike has already established that TechCrunch isn't exactly "journalism" and he's clear about his biases. But no self-respecting publication that aims to really inform and be the "pulse" of an industry would publish this kind of undocumented, sideways smear.

She points out that some high profile startups are already boycotting Techcrunch because of Mike Arrington.

That's what GroupMe did last month with news of a major acquisition. Arrington's response was classic Tony Soprano. Speaking at a CEO summit in New York, he berated a GroupMe executive in the audience. "You fucked me over," Mike said from the podium. He told everyone GroupMe was now cut off from his site, and threatened to do the same to anyone else who doesn't let him dictate their press coverage.

She describes this kind of behavior as bullying and unethical.

That's why I tell clients to skip TechCrunch and reach the same influential audience with a story on a site like Business Insider, GigaOm, VentureBeat or AllThingsD. If it's a big story, you can go to the Wall Street Journal. To be clear, I still think TechCrunch is a valuable publication, and I advise clients to pitch other TechCrunch writers. But there's always the risk of winding up afoul of Arrington's rules of the road.

I know many startups that won't work with Techcrunch and I've heard many similar stories about Mr Arrington but I hear them in private. Very few people will discuss such matters in public.

That's why I applaud Ms Camones and her brave stand. It's time for others to follow her example. Don't be afraid.

Show your support here: DIGIDAY:DAILY - Entrepreneurs Should Say No to Silicon Valley's Bully


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