Comets and dinosaurs: are PR people or hacks the dinosaurs? Or both?

  • Silicon Valley Watcher–Tom Foremski on the business and culture of innovation

    Robert mentioned a startup company that collected 400,000 beta users in one week from a mention on just a few key tech blogs. I thought it a good time to stand up and join the conversation and make an important point that many people don’t understand about blogging.

    I said that blogging is not disrupting the mainstream media – blogging will disrupt public relations. The company geting [sic – CA] its message out to 400,000 beta users is a great example, and I’ve been collecting many more.

    It’s easy for journalists to feel happy about this, until you realise that the company probably reached those 400,000 people without going through any media organisations either. (Well, apart from those that have blogs, of course.) As GMSV puts it, “[Rupert] Murdoch explains comets to dinosaurs“. We’re all standing around thinking that it’s the other guys who are the dinosaurs.


  1. But how many of those 400,000 users will ever come back? I sign up for all kinds of betas and most of them are a complete waste of time. The other important point is that a PR company was not involved probably because the company was almost certainly started either by one the tech webloggers themselves or by one of their friends.

    None of which is to say that I disagree with the premise, but this particular example is possibly not as relevant as it might seem. Not everyone is friendly with one of the A-list tech webloggers (though they are probably prety close to you on at least one of the social networks that you signed up for the beta of and then forgot about….)

  2. It has been commented that soon there will be no hack nor flack merely lots and lots of media personnel…

  3. Charles

    Friday 17 March 2006 at 12:22 pm

    L, you don’t need all those 400,000 to stay. If one-tenth stick with the product, that can be the basis of a sustainable business for a startup. Look at Pandora, which got much of its initial boost from blogs.

    And you don’t have to be friendly with an A-list blogger. All you need is their email. And all that needs to happen is for them to mention your product. Does that make them PR or journalist? Or both or neither?

  4. I’m not sure that even 40,000 stick around for many of the betas that are out there!

    As to knowing the email address of an A-lister, sure, but how do you get them to mention your site? They get inundated with such email: just like you and PR material, and they will select the ones that *sound* interesting. So you need to be able to do your own effective PR, which of course turns out to be hard, which is why there are PR people. My point here though was that most of the companies that get mentioned and where sign ups take off are started by the webloggers’ friends – they aren’t picking these things out of email.

  5. Charles, you only quote from a small part of Foremski’s post. I responded to it in full at my blog. Blogs will change the way PR people work in the same way that email, fax and the Usenet did. However as Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report has said in interviews, he still gets stories in the old-fashioned way with honest research.

    I personally think Foremski has hitched himself on a handcart to hell with the way the web services market is overheating at the moment. Substitute the words new economy for web 2.0 and it could be 8 years ago again

  6. Charles

    Saturday 18 March 2006 at 10:54 pm

    True, I may have been over-gloomy about that. I was wondering this affternoon whether Rupert Murdoch’s speech was just carefully calculated to depress the value of other newspaper holdings… so he could buy them.

    Yes, as I’ve said here many times, good solid journalism – finding things out – is always going to be in demand.

  7. Charles, thanks for linking. I feel that there is a misunderstanding of “blogging” and that people believe it is disrupting mainstream media. It is not–online/search engine marketing is the disruptor simply because it is cheaper to sell products instead of through journalism.

    Oh, BTW, yes, it is eight years ago :-) There is an Internet 2.0 under way and some things will look very familiar and some of the same mistakes will be made but now we have the infrastructure, the tools, the culture to make many of Internet 1.0 ideas a reality.

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