Hi-tech pros buzzing over computer mag’s criticism

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.

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

spring.



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

implementation.’



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