SAN FRANCISCO: An online haranguing of the hi-tech PR industry has PR pros in Silicon Valley buzzing.
SAN FRANCISCO: An online haranguing of the hi-tech PR industry has
PR pros in Silicon Valley buzzing.
Alex Gove, a writer at business technology magazine Red Herring, last
month penned a column in which he bemoaned the power that PR firms wield
among start-ups. He specifically chided hi-tech PR agencies for
inserting themselves into strategic business development.
’PR firms can be helpful, but the more they insert themselves into the
process, the more counterproductive they become,’ he wrote. ’PR
proponents have started to claim that startups can ’outsource’ their
strategic development or marketing by hiring a good PR firm.
’Why would a reputable company leave such critical functions to a PR
company?’ he continued. ’Incredibly, start-ups literally have to beg PR
firms to take their money and equity.’
Gove added that agencies should concentrate on the PR basics, a thought
mirrored by San Francisco Gate scribe Hal Plotkin earlier this
In his column, Plotkin wrote, ’Hi-tech PR is a dying art form,’ with PR
pros eschewing the ’block and tackle PR’ practiced by pioneer Regis
McKenna in favor of imitating ’Washington spinmeisters.’
Gove conceded that there are ’some really smart PR folks out there,’
including the head of the firm (Alexander Ogilvy) that represents his
magazine. Another PR pro who garnered kudos was Marissa Verson Harrison
of InterActive PR.
The hi-tech PR community was quick to respond to Gove’s commentary.
Despite being singled out for praise, Harrison criticized the piece:
’Gove’s biggest source of frustration doesn’t stem from his relationship
with PR, but in his understanding of the PR business.’ She added that
Gove and other writers ’see only a portion of what we do ... we take
(clients) to financial levels they couldn’t otherwise reach.’
The opinions of other hi-tech PR practitioners were mixed. ’PR pros are
moving into focusing on corporate behavior as opposed to corporate
communications,’ said Fred Hoar, chair of Miller/ Shandwick’s tech
practice. ’It’s not what I consider an area of core competence for the
PR profession. That’s not to say people shouldn’t do it, but Alex Gove’s
complaint is an understandable one.’
’What (Gove) is talking about is tactical people being strategic,’ said
Andy Miller, head of Miller Consulting Group.
’Strategy is a whole process - you have to integrate strategy and