THINKPIECE: Dot-com golden boys make a good story - but they don'tmake sound business plans

Joseph Park's Mom. Nicholas Butterworth's Ma. Aaron Cohen's

Mommie ... All proud of their sons! These were the CEOs of Internet

delivery service, music site SonicNet and "interactive design

shop" Concrete Media, respectively.

As the agency that built the brands, RLM Public Relations created gobs

of clippings for these mothers from '97 to 2000, after which they all

went in-house. Our staff was disheartened, nonetheless, to see them all

go belly-bye bye in the dot-com bust. PR and the press were responsible

for building up these huge personalities that led to the firms'


Yeah, those were the days when you were supposed to tout youthful

creative geniuses behind wondrous technological marvels.

But no matter how hard RLM tried to educate reporters on how the

businesses worked (and it did work!), no one cared. They wanted to hear

golden-voiced CEOs wax on how many millions they were swimming in and

when they were "gonna be public."

The press felt those young CEOs could do no wrong! They were wrong.

Times - the ones we live in and the newspaper - proved to PR execs that

we can no longer promote top-level folks who are cool and hip just to

give reporters a great story. I'll never forget a quote in New York

magazine: A naive Kozmo investor said, "I have no idea how this would

ever work as a business, but I had to invest because I was so impressed

with Joseph (Park, Kozmo's CEO)."

While media training is crucial to get CEOs into shape to answer

queries, it's not a means to create whole personalities and businesses

from thin air - especially when those bodies refuse to answer the tough

Q's. I doubt Joe, Aaron or Nick answered one of these: Is one-hour

delivery viable?" "Will advertising hold on the Net?" And so on.

In mid-April, I read requiems and obits on Kozmo: The writers suddenly

knew that the concept never would pan out, everyone was merely waiting

for it to die, blah blah blah. While The Joseph Show was raging, more

than 500 articles were published as the currency of this cult. Not one

Kozmo-eyed reporter questioned its inevitable value.

I say "rest in peace, you wild-eyed concepts." It's time to get over the

egos and get into the greatness of the business, not just the

poster-person! Today, non-dot-com companies will not be attempting to

put together huge press-clip books.

It's about the quality, stupid. Our business is promoting ideas that

work, not spokespeople who rock! No matter how much a clip-book might

make Mom proud.

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