Strumpette testifies in social media press release trial

Yesterday, during the prosecution’s opening remarks, I asked, “Is the Social Media Press Release a Meatball Sundae?” A short time later, the defense said, “Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, The Social Media Release is not a Meatball Sundae.”

With the opening arguments out of the way, the prosecution will now call its first witness to testify.

Q: For the record, can you please state your name and tell us something about your background?

A: My name is Amanda Chapel. I have about 20 years experience in marketing communications. I am a former vice president in the Consumer Marketing Group at Weber Shandwick, one of the world’s largest PR firms. Prior to Shandwick, I spent about 10 years bouncing around various leading agencies. That includes senior posts at Cone Communications in Boston and Porter Novelli in Chicago. I started my career at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising in London.

Most recently, I was the managing editor of Strumpette. Strumpette is one of the leading online PR trade publications. I helped launch the pub and was partly responsible for establishing its unique brand.

Q: When did you first hear of the social media press release and what was your initial reaction to it?

A: As I recall, PRX Builder made an announcement of a new service on around September/October ‘06. I thought it was a good idea actually. Obviously, communications forms, like language, are dynamic. Certainly, a modified version of a paper release needed to be adapted to a digital networked environment.

Q: When did you discover that StoryCrafter is almost identical to Shift Communications’ social media news release template?

A: The moment Edelman released it. Wrote a story about it actually, “Mega PR Firm Releases ‘StoryMakerUpper 1.0’”. Ya know, you can count on Edelman for comedy. Frankly, I think their involvement severely hampered the adoption of the concept ironically.

Q: Do you believe that PR’s Web 2.0 “leaders” are a band of self-important nincompoops and, well, snake-oil salesmen? In other words, please expand on today’s Strumpette article by Mark Abrams, “An Open Letter Apology to PR’s Web 2.0 ‘Leaders’“.

A: Funny. Just saw that. I do think Mark’s piece speaks for itself. But I will say that these guys are the product of a society that has raised mere opinion to the status of celebrity. In reality, they’ve got little to no genuine expertise. When you add that their primary motive is to bamboozle ya, it gets pretty smarmy.

Q: So, in your expert opinion, would you say that the social media press release is a meatball sundae — the unfortunate result of mixing two good ideas?

A: Indeed. The assumption that “conversation” is always good isn’t silly; it’s stupid. The language of a corporation is primarily contracts. Contracts are not something that is open to the whims of a mob. In the “StoryMakerUpper” piece, I jokingly said, “by also incorporating features such as comments and trackback, Edelman uniquely can help companies dramatically lessen the time it takes to get mugged by rabid pitchfork-and-torch-bearing idiots in the blogosphere.” That’s the form’s Achilles Heel. The language of a corporation is 90 percent articulation and 10 percent conversation. The snake-oil gang doesn’t get that, nor do they want to.

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