The New York Times has a piece about the “new” style public relations in this day and age of blogs, Facebook and Twitter. They follow a publicist Brooke Hammerling as she develops a strategy for new startup Wordnik. An investor wants to avoid tech blogs such as TechCrunch due to his opinion that they are essentially set on auto-critic.
Instead, Hammerling decides to “whisper in the ears” of Silicon Valley elite. She pitches them about the “ongoing project” of Wordnik, which has been chosen to avoid the inevitable monetization questions that come along with new startups. In true robot fashion, her virtual Rolodex began Twittering away about the Wordnik.
Of course, Tech Crunch founder Michael Arrington was not happy to learn that he’d been kept out of the loop on purpose (nevermind his declaration months ago that he would stop honoring embargoes). So, he took to TechCrunch to label Wordnik a failure, but so far it’s his argument that is the biggest failure in the matter.
He chose to compare Wordnik to Topsy, which was launched oh-so-exclusively on TechCrunch. The problem? Topsy based on Twitter, an already wildly popular web application. Wordnik is an online dictionary that will appeal primarily to nerdy wordsmiths, copywriters and students. Never has the cliche of comparing apples to oranges been more appropriate.
Arrington boasts that Topsy has had soooooooo much traffic since launch while Wordnik barely has registered on the radar of tracking services like comScore.
Whether Topsy or Wordnik take off or crash land remains to be seen. These things take time and require use by thousands if not millions of users who find value beyond fad generated by A-lister Tweets. But one thing is for certain. If you continue to follow the “big names” in tech, beware of the mindless PR drivel disguised as original opinion.