Monday, September 29, 2008

Responding to an Online Critic: Get your Timing, Target, and Tone Right - Response

By Gina Rubel – Shabbir Imber Safdar and Jason Alcorn of have shared and interesting retrospective of the “Online Critic Case Study: Edelman vs. Calacanis” in their blog. Their article originally appeared on PRNews Online on September 24, 2008.

The two bloggers make some great points about timing, target and tone. However, I offer a difference in opinion with regard to the timing of the Calacanis responses.

Safdar and Alcorn opine that Richard Edelman, the President and CEO of a $400+ million a year global public relations firm and I made a mistake when we “re-invigorated” a story that had “almost died” when we commented several days after Calacanis’ post. Safdar and Alcorn further opine that by doing so, we “stoked the previously dead embers of this discussion.”

Safdar and Alcorn provide Digg statistics about when most of the activity on this article occurred but what they don’t say is that this post will be discoverable online for many years to come.

As an attorney and public relations expert, I take a different approach to such matters. It’s important to share all sides of a story with the public – the pros and the cons. Smart buyers of PR services will take Calacanis’ post with a grain of salt. And if they’re that skeptical and pessimistic about the services public relations firms provide, then they won’t likely make great clients anyway. On the other hand, smart buyers will also review all the feedback, dig further, speak to thought-leaders who have hired and worked with PR firms, and make their minds up based on all the information they gather. Although I cannot speak for Richard Edelman, I shared my comments because I believe people should hear all sides of the story. That said, I also found out about the original rant because it was forwarded to me by a prospective client.

Safdar and Alcorn go on to say “Richard Edelman should probably have responded to the ‘fire your PR firm’ concept here [I assume they mean in PRNews Online], and avoided directly identifying Calacanis in his response. At the very least, he shouldn’t have linked to him. On behalf of people who do public relations everywhere, we don’t appreciate one of the world’s leading PR people raising the Google rank of that article.” But isn’t their blog doing just that?

Follow up note: I like these guys. They have integrity. Here's what they had to say after my response:

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