"The economic logic is simple," says [Village Ventures] cofounder William (Bo) Peabody, 32. "If you want to catch fish, you go where the fishermen ain't."
- Forbes, "Silicon Hills", December 8, 2003
Seven years ago, and some time after I had started a blog and began writing about the intersection of public relations and social media, I read this article and asked myself if there was really a there there in terms of the changes that very few of us were seeing in communications.
This thought came at an auspicious time.
- At a job I had quit the year before, the fact that I was writing about social media in the trades was brought up in my performance review—slotted into the negative column.
- A month before the above-cited Forbes article, I was told by business partners that social media expertise was not to remain part of our group's suite of offerings.
- That same year, the then-editor-in-chief of a major engineering trade magazine implied in his column that my writings about social media (and RSS in particular) were at least partially responsible for an impending "Disneyfication of the news." He refused to print my rebuttal, though politely thanked me for taking the time to craft it. Publishing it to my blog wasn't an option, since I didn't really need to get into a war with a publication I was paid to get placements in. (Years later, this editor would take a job as a social media specialist at a notable PR firm.)
- A year after that, I was castigated for forwarding a blog post of interest (from a decades-long technology veteran, no less) to a client.
- Another client even told me, "Don't blog. No one really wants to hear from a PR person who thinks!"
Fortunately, timely, encouraging and rewarding correspondence with Dan Gillmor convinced me that I was maybe a little crazy, but not so crazy that listening to what the voices in my head were telling me wasn't without value. Six months later, I hit CTRL+ALT+DELETE on my life and moved to LA and, later, Chicago.
Here we are in 2010 and I was reminded of this Forbes article for a number of reasons:
- I'm still very passionate about public relations and advancing the role that it plays. However, I find many of the people and places I'm now supposed to look to for inspiration and insight in this space don't really excite me. No offense to them.
- Those same people and places seem to excite others. A lot of others.
- The people who started exploring the new communications paradigms were (and are) communicators first and social media "gurus" second. Xenogenesis: The offspring bears little to no resemblance to the parent.
- In the early 1990s, bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam charged to the very top of the Billboard charts with the word "Alternative" emblazoned on their shields. Strangely, the disconnect mostly escaped both the music press and the popular imagination at the time. What am I to learn from this? And am I seeing it again?
(There's also something strangely chuckle-inducing that a professional communicator would have a blog with "Ain't" in the title. Also, now that I think of it, this blog has a rather interesting acronym as well.)I'm not going to tell you that you're necessarily going to find items here you probably couldn't find somewhere else, but what I can guarantee is you'll find a unique point of view and some sanity amid the craziness that pervades this industry.
Our fiddle. Their Rome.
April 6, 2010