August 26, 2003
An Actual Email: Can I Guest Your Blog?

An actual email with proper nouns genericized to protect the guilty. OK, so what does this tell us? Are blogs now media outlets really worth pitching? Interesting idea. I wonder how many of these were sent out.

From: xxxxxxx xxxxxx
To: "'mitch@osafoundation.org'"
Subject: Open to guest perspective?
Date: Mon, 25 Aug 2003 14:53:56 -0400

Hi Mitch,

V.P. FROM VERY WELL-KNOWN VALLEY FIRM asked me to
contact you. He reads your blog regularly and is wondering if you'd be open to him to posting an opinion? He has XX+ years of industry experience and his work at WELL-KNOWN VALLEY FIRM, involvement in the tech community and focus on customers
makes him an interesting candidate to share a guest perspective.

At WELL-KNOWN VALLEY FIRM, V.P. is responsible for the company's business, strategy, technology and products focused on providing customers with disruptive competitive advantage through the COMPANY'S TECHNOLOGY PLATFORM.

He can offer a technical and high-level perspective on the following topics:

- The state of the XXX market/customer perspective on challenges
and opportunities in adopting XXX technology
- The significance of ZZZ standards and the role of standards
bodies (AAA, BBB, CCC, DDD)
- Benefits of current standards and specifications
- Open standards-based technologies like QQQ and the value they provide to organizations
- How XXX can help businesses extend the reach of their
current applications,

Please let me know if you're interested.

Best,
PR PERSON
WELL-KNOWN TECH PR FIRM

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at August 26, 2003 06:37 AM
Comments

A well-read blog is not only a good way to get out to an audience. with strategic linking it can be used to generate some severe Google-juice.

Posted by: Tomas at August 26, 2003 09:03 AM

woa... talk about missing the whole "blog" culture... if he really wants to make an impact - why does he not start his own blog... then, maybe ask for a link...

Posted by: Jason Kaczor at August 26, 2003 09:05 AM

Why protect the guilty? Public shame (followed by a stoning) is the only thing these chuckleheads understand.

Posted by: BillSeitz at August 26, 2003 10:55 AM

Altenative response: may I guest-boink your wife?

Posted by: BillSeitz at August 26, 2003 10:55 AM

Here's a hint for those interested in identifying the subject: the phrase "disruptive competitive advantage" appears on very few Web pages.

Posted by: Jesse James Garrett at August 26, 2003 11:43 AM

It looks like V.P. FROM VERY WELL-KNOWN VALLEY FIRM is also "relentlessly customer-focused".

Which is nice.

Posted by: Julian Bond at August 26, 2003 11:56 AM

And has "spent 16+ years re-inventing business technology solutions by developing and deploying commercial, web-based..." So it looks like the PR firm is pretty good at re-writing history as well.

Posted by: Julian Bond at August 26, 2003 11:59 AM

How did you get "16+ years" out of "XX+ years"?

Posted by: Don Park at August 26, 2003 12:27 PM

Don,
I assume Julian googled for "disruptive competitive advantage" and came up with the first link I came to as well. You try it, http://www.google.com/search?q=%22disruptive+competitive+advantage%22

Posted by: Dare Obasanjo at August 26, 2003 01:11 PM

Who knows what boilerplate lurks in the hearts of PR people? The Google Knows!

Posted by: l.m.orchard at August 27, 2003 09:28 AM

Mr. Bauhaus, I have a Movable Type install you are most welcome to. You even get your own username and password. You gotta work to get recognition just like the rest of us shlubs. A VP title gets you nowhere in blogland. Good, insightful, interesting commentary does.

Posted by: Alex Sirota at August 27, 2003 07:03 PM

Hey, Mitch, I got the exact same e-mail. I refused to go along with it because I just knew the flack in question had sent it to who-knows-how-many-other bloggers. Lucky for me, huh?

Hiawatha Bray
Tech Reporter
Boston Globe

Posted by: Hiawatha Bray at August 28, 2003 09:44 AM

Hey, Mitch, I got the exact same e-mail. I refused to go along with it because I just knew the flack in question had sent it to who-knows-how-many-other bloggers. Lucky for me, huh?

Hiawatha Bray
Tech Reporter
Boston Globe

Posted by: Hiawatha Bray at August 28, 2003 09:45 AM

I think the first poster pretty much nailed it: This is as much about Google juice as anything else.

All I've got to add to this is a little humor related to WELL-KNOWN VALLEY FIRM:

http://www.mcgroarty.net/scottletter.txt

Posted by: Brian McGroarty at August 28, 2003 12:00 PM

In a paper published in early 2000, "Robust Hyperlinks Cost Just Five Words Each", Tom Phelps and Bob Wilensky at Berkeley showed how just five distinctive words are sufficient to identify & retrieve most any document on the Web. See: http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~phelps/Robust/papers/robust-hyperlinks.html .

Obviously a careful poster could conceal her identity by creating a logical lacunae simply by using different terms according to the context and her intention.

The NSA/CIA seem to have specialized in cracking such methods for decades, going back to a famous research dataset of newspaper articles about Iranian terrorists developed by a student of the (Azeri) inventor of fuzzy logic, Lotfi Zadeh at Cal (this association always got a big laugh...)

Posted by: Marc Laventurier at August 28, 2003 03:01 PM

Figuring out how to use Google to retreive the subject's identity is very clever. We've all learned something. Seeing this, if I were to do it again, I would have anonymized the email just a little more.

Posted by: Mitch Kapor at August 28, 2003 08:32 PM

I suspect the following post may not be welcomed. I’m a blog-newbie. I have heard about blogs 6 months ago, but never tried it out because I'm more concerned with finding PAYING work than getting involved with ineffectual politics and virtual communities...my real-life community has enough problems.

Now I see blogs being used in politics (i.e. Dean campaign) I also note that blogs (or any website) can increase Goggle rank because said service uses amount of links for ranking.

So now I want to create my own low-end dirt-cheap mobile software consulting business/Asian import operations/dot-com-lite shtick. I want to do this because I can’t wait for someone company to hire me for a $100K/year marketing position…its just not going to happen. And when I get the gig going, I’m going to need to do some PR and generate buzz without spending money…’cause I and got no dinero. Is it cool to send information about my product (whatever that may be) to blog sites that seem to have similar interest?

This PR exec is being maligned here. Why? Because the CEO (Scott of Sun?) doesn’t want to write for himself? CEOs never write for themselves! What if the PR rep posted in a reply to an article, or just sent an email reply that was posted? Wouldn’t that have the same affect? Is a blog an interactive communication method (not a rhetorical question)?

OK. Can anyone point me in the right direction on understanding the etiquette for bloggers? And what’s the best beginner blog site?

Sorry for the newbie questions.

PS. everyone here uses their real names. Aren’t you afraid of getting viciously spammed?

Posted by: skibei_neko at August 29, 2003 01:50 AM

Good grief, have we, as PR folks sunk so low. On behalf of the PR industry, I apologize for the stupidity of my fellow brothers and sisters in PR. We're not all that dumb.

Posted by: Roberta S at August 29, 2003 12:16 PM

Why don't you poll your readers and ask them if they would be interested in reading what the VP has to say?

Posted by: Esme V at August 30, 2003 01:03 AM

I just recently spoke about this on my blog:
http://www.anthurian.com/archives.cfm?archive=2003_08_01_archives.cfm#106199599959522533 and http://www.anthurian.com/archives.cfm?archive=2003_08_01_archives.cfm#106210076602748112

Unfortunately, I see more of this eventually hitting the blogosphere. PR folks may realize that they can't persuade bloggers to write about something they don't believe in so the industry will create it's own version of the blogosphere based on spreading brand messaging.

What is starting to peeve me is the number of PR talking heads who are coming out of the woodwork as "experts" although they are only familiar with the term blog and not the specifics of what blogging is or who bloggers are. Personally, I'm not one who believes in selling buzzwords but, then again, I've found that the PR folks I work with really don't care about specifics as much as making sure that their client's message is conveyed.

Posted by: Huxley75 at August 31, 2003 09:02 AM


Unfortunately, I see more of this eventually hitting the blogosphere. PR folks may realize that they can't persuade bloggers to write about something they don't believe in so the industry will create it's own version of the blogosphere based on spreading brand messaging.


So we need to start thinking about the next step, or in five years the blogosphere will look like Usenet does now...

Maybe FOAF can help by keeping "legit" bloggers rated as such by their peers? If something like that were in place ahead of time it would be harder for companies to co-opt personal blogs for their benefit.

Posted by: Dave Cantrell at September 3, 2003 08:37 AM

I think you would have to atomize a message like this (or just paraphrase) to really make it anonymous. The blogsphere works against clueless people. Sure, the PR folks can start their own blogs, but who would read or link them except to make fun of it.

In the context of strategic philanthropy at Wealth Bondage, an important person in philanthropy was blogging about some issues related to clients, and an incident where an award was declined by the recipient. Bad PR for the company and he was careful not to connect the dots, but a couple of Google searches and you have the whole story.

Bottom line is you can't really keep anything secret, or expect that people won't notice when something is pure PR activity. Better to get a clue and be open and honest in the first place, or in this case, pay those PR people to write his blog rather than spamming people. Done well, even a ghost-written blog could be interesting and even clueful (maybe).

Posted by: Gerry at September 6, 2003 03:36 PM

BigPR is dying. This stunt is grabbing at life vests.

For more laughing and poking fun, see Ketchum's way-hip (my toungue is stuck in my cheek) Kudos Confidential blogspot blog about an interoffice awards program. Oh. My. God.

http://kudosconfidential.blogspot.com

don't worry. it will all be over soon.

Posted by: jeneane at September 7, 2003 08:54 PM

First, a disclaimer. I believe I work for the company in question.

Second, I was a technology industry jouranlist for 20 years and I think almost every comment I have seen on this is more than a little self serving.

You can't have it both ways. If blogs are the new news medium and the new way that people will find out about everything then what else would you expect? It is a PR person's job to pitch for publicity in news venues. In addition, why wouldn't you WANT this? Doesn't a technology VP at a technology firm have something real to contribute as a commentary?

Then, on the other hand, if blogs are purely personal mediums for personal expression with the ability to indefinitely comment on content from other sources, then why would you be upset about a politely worded request from someone else to make a comment themselves?

Yes, they could get their own weblog, but MANY weblogs DO have guest commentaries or guest columns. Why shouldn't someone ask to do one?

The blog owner can, after all, say no...

Posted by: Owen Linderholm at September 12, 2003 04:24 PM

First, a disclaimer. I believe I work for the company in question.

Second, I was a technology industry jouranlist for 20 years and I think almost every comment I have seen on this is more than a little self serving.

You can't have it both ways. If blogs are the new news medium and the new way that people will find out about everything then what else would you expect? It is a PR person's job to pitch for publicity in news venues. In addition, why wouldn't you WANT this? Doesn't a technology VP at a technology firm have something real to contribute as a commentary?

Then, on the other hand, if blogs are purely personal mediums for personal expression with the ability to indefinitely comment on content from other sources, then why would you be upset about a politely worded request from someone else to make a comment themselves?

Yes, they could get their own weblog, but MANY weblogs DO have guest commentaries or guest columns. Why shouldn't someone ask to do one?

The blog owner can, after all, say no...

Posted by: Owen Linderholm at September 12, 2003 04:26 PM

Hi Owen -

The Veep in question could always have posted a comment himself. No ?

Chris S.

Posted by: Chris Stiles at September 15, 2003 10:13 AM

Volunteering to guest blog makes sense on some kinds of weblogs but not others. Blogs where the emphasis is on some theme (i.e. progressive politics at DailyKos or the war in Iraq at Comand Post) lend themselves to guest blogging, collaborative blogging or both. Blogs which are primarily a diary or column of the opinions of a semi-famous person don't make sense as collaborative works. If I want to read what Mitch Kapor is thinking about today, I don't come here expecting to find anything but his (or a close relative's) writings. Any PR shop that shops their principal to the latter sort of blog is incompetent.

Posted by: Douglas at September 20, 2003 04:43 AM