Mesh Day Two: Blogs and PR

David Jones led this session


  • Blogging has made a difference for:
  • Kryptonite
  • Howard Dean
  • GM
  • Juicy Fruit
  • Vespa
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • American Express
  • M.A.I.L.: A Four Step Blogging Program
  1. Monitor
  2. Assess
  3. Interact
  4. Lead
  • Monitor
  • Who’s saying what
  • Who’s listening to them
  • Who’s linking to you
  • Assess
  • Dive in, read the postings
  • Run comparisons on you vs. your competitors
  • Is your reputation good or bad in the blogosphere?
  • Interact
  • Post comments on blogs
  • Consider “blogger relations” along with “media relations”
  • Be transparent
  • Lead
  • Is blogging right for your company?
  • Be first; someone has to be
  • Be able to answer the questions; they are coming…
  • Read blogs like you study the media
  • Blog yourself, get a feel for it
  • Recommend blogging as a communications tool

Mesh Day Two: Post-mass Media Marketing

Tony Chapman of Capital C led this workshop.

Highlights of Tony’s presentation:

  • The common element between mass and digital is attention – the oxygen of brand building.
  • The first 50 years of marketing relied on one thing: He who shouts loudest wins.
  • We shouted and we shouted – 3.3 million brands; 27,000 new brands launched in 2005
  • We shouted at retail: saturation; consolidation; intimidation; exploitation
  • We shouted on media
  • Advertisers are demanding more and getting less
  • And consumers stopped listening
  • Consumers went from mass media to their media: watching; searching; gravitating; loitering; forging; coaching; scavenging; playing; hunting; chatting; dating; gambling; voting; listening; joining; shopping; gaming; learning; consuming
  • But there is a new passtime that is sucking even more time online: CREATING blogging; mashing; designing; performing; confessing; publishing; creative directing; do it yourself advertising; filming; animating; living on line; expressing
  • Creating and expressing are the new pop culture trends
  • Digital is their media
  • The more time they spend with the mouse, the less time they leave the house -social isolation is increasing
  • The consumer has too many choices. They give us only two seconds of their attention
  • We are in a marketing revolution – moving from mass attention, where we never knew our consumers names, to a consumer-centric platform where we know our consumers names and so much more: how they feel; how they spend their time; where they shop and what they buy; what media they consume
  • With that type of knowledge, mass marketing becomes Precision Marketing – as targeted as one to one
  • Three simple steps to get there:
  1. Connect: Push – frame the brand in the way the consumer gets it (head; heart and hands); understand the junction between the physical and emotional appeal; take advantage of the retail theatre to anticipate and respond to the mood of shoppers; take advantage of promotional media; grassroots and sampling; word of mouth; customize mass media campaigns
  2. Engage: Push and pull – provide them with an online experience
  3. Interact: Pull – respond to your consumer wants – value added; influence; content; access; status
  • Use Advertising and PR to bring people into this process
  • Tell a story that connects with your known consumer wants – e.g. iPod; Dove; Axe; the Land of Cadbury; PepBoys Auto
  • Five predictions:
    1. Conventional mass tactics will be rendered obsolete;
    2. Consumers will hijack the creative process;
    3. Consumers will have complete power over the buying process;
    4. Wall street will pay a multiple on the size of your online community; and
    5. More advertising dollars will be spent at retail than with the conventional TV networks.

Mesh Day Two: Paul Kedrosky

Paul Kedrosky led off the business and finance discussion.


  • “In a sense, superficially, it sure feels like a bubble. But, so what? … It takes a lot of dead bodies to fill a swamp. We’ve gotta do this stuff. Screw it up and waste a ton of money. We’ll get there by piling up a lot of bodies. … There’s way too much enthusiasm.”
  • “There’s as much money out there as there was at the bubble time. It’s more concentrated among the top tier of venture capital firms. … The trouble is that there’s this idea that the best firms are always the best. … The best venture investors fish from a very well stocked pond. … The problem for everyone else in the venture industry is that they’re fighting for scraps. These people have been given massive capital and they’re all searching around for a place to put it. … There’s a lot of people with a lot of capital trying to find homes for it. And web 2.0 happens to be a beneficiary of it.”
  • “The nice thing about web 2.0 companies is that you can do them very cheaply. … There’s a kind of democratization of entrepreneurship. … However, this comes with a downside. As soon as an opportunity comes along, 30 people rush in to fill it.”
  • In the last six months, the pendulum is swinging from the consumer side to the business side of web 2.0.
  • An example of web 2.0 companies that are making money?
  • “It’s easy to start thinking of features as products. Because if it’s so cool to me, why aren’t people paying for it? People should not kid themselves.”
  • “AdSense is absurdly risky. In essence, I have one customer. If Google decided to change their business tomorrow…”
  • “The challenge in Canada is to get the deal flow that venture capitalists require. … Canadians see relatively fewer examples of people who have been successful in soliciting venture capital. … We need to have more prominent exits so that others in the community can do this as well.”
  • “Polaris and Kodiak both have a track record of investing in Canada.”

People can always dream…

Mesh Day Two: Steve Rubel

The second day of Mesh opened with an interactive session with Steve Rubel, the A list PR blogger.


  • “On the name of his blog, Micropersuasion, It’s no longer about the largest number of eyeballs. It’s about one person with a voice who can be influential. It’s about one voice and one person being just as persuasive as anybody.”
  • “Public relations has to mean literally what the word says, how to relate to the public. We’ve been dealing for years with the media. … Now it’s totally different. The public relations professional needs to know how to deal with people – as people.”
  • “We have to understand the motivations of the bloggers we deal with. Bloggers have a lot of different motivation. You have to think about how I can help this blogger to succeed and at the same time help me to succeed.”
  • “It’s about befriending a community. It’s about working with a community to further their goals and to further your own. … That’s the new model: Further the conversation.”
    The Edelman Trust barometer this year showed a shift in trust: “A person like myself or a peer is the most trusted person. People want to have a news means to connect and interact with each other.”
  • What’s working? “Advertising is still working. It’s adapting. … Word of Mouth has always worked. PR is working. … Marketing isn’t dying. PR isn’t dying. They’re just spreading out and adapting.”
  • On credibility: “The community will tell us who’s credible and who’s not. … The community does a wonderful job of checking what people are writing.”
  • “Who you should be talking to is a bigger question than who you should believe. There’s a tendency to go to the bigger blogs. … It’s not a numbers game. … You find a small section of an audience that’s interested in a specific thing and you develop a deep relationship with them.”
  • Who will pay for that? “I’ve seen some companies begin to set up budgets for community marketing.” Examples: Microsoft and Lego “Companies will see others do that and then ask themselves why they don’t do that.”
  • Campaigns are moving away from impressions and GRPs to be measured by “How many links did we get? How many conversations did we generate?”
  • “Companies will have to get their minds wrapped around that narrow is good. Niche vs. Reach.”
    About the Edelman Walmart controversy and the crossover of PR from media relations to blogger relations: “We learned from that. There are some things that are going to work and others that won’t. The important thing is to remain transparent and ethical.”
  • Re: MySpace and other social networking sites: “Look for where the relevant community is hanging out. … Whatever you do with social networks needs to be done on the terms of the community. … You need to do it politely and by fitting in.”
  • On Strumpette, the PR gossip blog: “I realize that I sit in the public. And with that, you’ve got to take your lumps.”
  • Pay for Play in the Blogosphere: “I’d advise you not to go there. Unless the rest of the world changes overnight, don’t do it. And the way to know what the world considers acceptable is to read blogs.”
  • On measuring success: “Touch points with influentials. How many times did we generate a conversation with people who are considered influentials. Also look at web traffic. Look at Links.”
  • Several questioners argued that character blogs have a place as an entertainment device. Rubel took an uncompromising position against character blogs.
  • “Character blogs are an example of blogs done wrong. Characters aren’t people. … It’s all fake. … Blogging is about real people, authenticity and conversation. It’s about the people who make the product, not the characters who are used in advertising the product. … If Mickey Mouse were really blogging, he’d be telling us how much he’s sweating in the costume and how long it has been since he went to the bathroom.”
  • “A character blog is a controlled message. It’s putting up a big shield, a barrier between you and the consumer. And consumers see that as the company saying, ‘I don’t want to get down and dirty and be honest with you.'”
  • Where is this going three years from now: “It’s headed toward a shift with advertising dollars coming out of unidirectional and going into two-way media. In three years there will be metrics … and new budgets for generating conversations.”
  • Advice to corporate executives: “Know where your people hang out. … Develop the infrastructure to have conversations. … Engage the audience in dialogue. … Empower the audience. What do they want to achieve and then help them do it.”
  • Mesh Day One

    The Mesh Conference opened in Toronto yesterday – and it delivered everything that attendees had been hoping for. Thoughtful presentations and discussions by notable speakers. And lots of attendee participation in the discussion and interaction between sessions.


    Om Malik

    • “Reflecting on the abundance of information being added to social media everyday: When information is free, context is more valuiable. People are looking for what it means. People confuse writing opinion with writing for context.”
    • It’s tough to malke a living off adwords. We need a new advertising paradigm. CPM doesn’t make sense on blogs. The advertising is seriously lagging in its approach to blogs.
    • At a certain point, most bloggers will ask, “what am I getting out of this?” And at that point, most will begin to look for a financial return on their efforts.
    • The story never ends. Mainstream Media does not always have the space to update stories; as a blogger, I can always update the story. (Canadian journalist and blogger Mark Evans pointed out that he is able to provide more context in his blog than his is able to do in his newspaper stories.)
    • “Web 2.0 is not a technology; it’s a way of thinking.”
    • Michael Geist

      • Michael opened his presentation with a series of slides showing the cascading effect of his blog postings about a perceived conflict of interest between the Canadian Recording Industry Association, the Canadian Motion Picture Association and other advocates of a Digital Rights Management-based copyright regime and Member of Parliament Sam Bulte, then-Parliamentary Secretary to Canada’s Minister of Canadian Heritage.  These groups hosted a fundraiser for Bulte just four days prior to the 2006 Canadian election. Geist’s posts that the industry’s fundraising for Bulte suggested a too cozy relationship between a senior policy maker and a group advocating a policy position became viral in the blogosphere and broke through into mainstream media coverage. Bulte, running for re-election in a seemingly safe Liberal seat, was defeated. The controversy that enveloped Bulte as a consequence of Geist’s postings played a part in her electoral demise. (I must confess, I don’t totally agree with Michael Geist’s positions on the substance of copyright reform. However, I applaud his integrity and courage in making his point.)
      • Geist expects that the newly-elected Conservative government will introduce new copyright legislation this autumn. Ironically, he thinks that backers of copyright reform may actually look back wistfully at the copyright legislation introduced by Bulte and the then-Liberal government. He believes the Conservatives are tilting toward the DRM-based regime advocated by the recording and movie industries.
      • “DRM-based policies are failing Canadians. … Some of these reforms aren’t about copyright; they’re about market control.”
      • “What is more longtail than Canadian content?”

        Two excellent presentations to kick off Mesh.

      Getting a job in PR: Do something beyond the routine

      Chris Clarke has posted about getting his first PR job. Straight out of school. With my firm, Thornley Fallis, a big-city PR agency.

      In his post, Chris says:

      I owe this opportunity to one thing and one person. The thing is blogging and new media. Without it, there is little else that sets me apart from the rest of the students in the field of PR in Toronto (or anywhere else in the world for that matter). The person is David Jones. He took a minute to read a comment I left on his blog many months ago, corresponded with me through email, agreed to speak to my program, volunteered to help our program organize a trip to visit a number of PR firms in Toronto, and was kind enough to invite me to Toronto for a sit-down meeting with him. David did more for me than most teachers I had this year in college, and I can say with total confidence that he’s taught me more than many of them, too. So David, thank you so much.

      The thing that intimidates me the most about this little PR adventure is that there really is no blueprint to follow. I can’t point to any other successful bloggers who happen to also be students of public relations programs who have taken the big step into the agency world right out of college and succeeded (although I have a feeling I’m not alone in this thinking). That won’t deter me, though. It hadn’t occurred to me until just now, but I hope to be a model for future students who might someday be in the position I’m in right now. Hopefully, they can point to me and feel confident that they can do a good job too. It’s a big responsibility, though: my success will certainly be a deciding factor in hiring future bloggers at Thornley Fallis. It might be a deciding factor for other firms thinking of hiring PR students with blogs. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see (and make sure I don’t screw it up for the bloggers!)

      Chris ClarkeChris is right in his assessment of the important role played in his recruitment by David Jones (who showed the very best qualities of a senior PR practitioner in reaching out to students of PR and in doing so gave us all a standard to live up to) and Chris’ decision to blog.

      What Chris may not remember is that he sent us his CV and applied for a position with our firm in February. At that time, his CV revealed him to be a university graduate who was rounding out his education with studies in public relations at Fanshawe College. He had been involved in a range of extracurricular and community service activities. A bright young student looking for a first job in his chosen field. One of the dozen qualified applicants we hear from each month.

      But Chris didn’t stop there. He used his time in school to begin to pursue his passion for blogging. And he began to interact with established bloggers. Not just David Jones, but also many others including A listers like Joseph Jaffe.

      So, Chris didn’t fade from our consciousness after we had reviewed his CV. Instead, he set himself apart from all of the other people who sent us CVs by distinguishing himself. We followed his blog. And when it came time for us to recruit a new staffer to work with us in our expanding social media practice, it was a no-brainer to call Chris.

      But is this something new or exclusive to blogging? Not at all. Savvy young people have known for years that high grades and university degrees are not enough to land the best jobs after graduation. The very best people distinguish themselves by doing something out of the ordinary to make them remarkable to recruiters in their chosen profession.

      For Chris, it was his student PR blog. Others I have hired over the years have distinguished themselves while students in a number of other ways: handling communications for a community cause; preparing a branding and marketing program for a student pub; being actively involved in a political leadership campaign (yes, politics can be an admirable thing, if engaged in for principled reasons) or: working as an intern in a newsroom or PR agency.

      And in each case that I recall, the person didn’t just go through the motions to assemble CV credentials. They excelled in their extra activity, producing outstanding results and earning the respect of the people they worked with.

      And that’s what Chris did. Student PR isn’t just a blog. It is a blog with thoughtful posts that probe the nature of best practices in the emerging social media.

      In this Chris has truly established himself as a model for others.

      We’re looking forward to his arrival at Thornley Fallis. There are no guarantees of success. But we’re hopeful that we can provide an environment where a promising young PR practitioner can and will excel.

      Welcome aboard Chris!

      Blogger Relations: The Importance of Transparency Underlined

      I just had the experience of being checked out by a blogger that one of the consultants I work with had contacted via email. And this definitely underlines the importance of being transparent, truthful and straightforward in any blogger relations initiative.

      Recently, one of my colleagues at Thornley Fallis, Keelan Green, sent an email to the authors of The Torch, a blog he had been reading for the past month. The Torch had featured a number of posts that discussed Canada’s moves to replace its fleet of tactical transport and Search and Rescue aircraft. Keelan identified our firm as the Canadian public relations firm for Alenia and Lockheed Martin, two of the companies whose C-27J and C-130J aircraft are being considered for this purpose. Keelan offered to provide the authors of the Torch with the same information that we provide to mainstream media. He also provided the URLs for and, the Canadian websites that provide information on both aircraft and their suitability to Canada’s needs.

      One of the The Torch bloggers, Paul Synnott, was prompted by Keelan’s email to take a close look at us on his personal Blue Blogging Soapbox blog. He did a pretty thorough job researching our online presence and quoting both from Keelan’s email and relevant passages from some of my earlier blog posts.

      Happily, we seem to have passed his test for transparency and genuine commitment to blogging and the conversation it supports. in fact, he concludes that we are “A savvy firm not afraid to embrace a new and changing landscape.”

      Public relations practitioners should accept that this level of scrutiny of our actions and how they line up with previous statements will become routine in the blogosphere. What we have said and done is not buried in paper files or hard-to-search microfiche. It is in fact easily and readily available to anyone who knows how to use a search engine.

      The bottom line: Avoid shortcuts. If you conclude that the blogosphere is important to you, establish your own voice first. Go ahead, contact the bloggers who you think are the most influential. But let the rest of the world see that you are prepared to say in public what you private encourage an intermediary to talk about.

      Cabinet Minister Promoted, Keeps Blogging

      Yesterday, Neville Hobson pointed out that David Miliband, the blogging Cabinet Minister, had been promoted in Tony Blair’s Cabinet Shuffle. Miliband posted to his blog that, “I’m now Environment Secretary – so this blog will no longer exist at its current URL and I’m afraid this means we can’t post any more comments on this site. … But I’m very much hoping this won’t be the end of my presence on the blogosphere…please keep an eye out.”

      Well, good news. Within seven hours, Miliband was back in business at his new blog address.

      A politician worth watching. Both for what he does as a Minister and as a blogger who explores the potential for social media to better connect government with its constituents.

      Losing a valued colleague: A Peril of Blogging

      David JonesDavid Jones is leaving Thornley Fallis. He has been recruited away from us by another firm that wants to upgrade their expertise in social media.

      That’s a bummer for Thornley Fallis. David is a good friend and a very smart guy. We will miss him.

      Dave, Terry Fallis and I have spent the past year exploring the possibilities of social media. We have learned by doing. We have learned a lot from one another. We have learned by meeting and talking to others who are on the leading edge of developing social media. 

      And as we have exchanged views and learned from other practitioners of social media, our own profiles have been raised. We have come to “know” and “be known” to people we have never met in person. This really came home to me when I first approached a fellow blogger at a conference. As I was about to introduce myself, he said, “I know you. I’ve seen your picture on your blog and I read you all the time.” (Nice compliment; totally unexpected)

      So, I should not be surprised that another firm has swooped in and made David an offer he could not refuse (It’s all positive; no severed horse heads involved.) In exploring and engaging in social media, David has raised his profile and engaged in conversations with respected bloggers and podcasters like Shel Holtz, Neville Hobson, Joseph Jaffe, Colin McKay and Robert French. He has acquired a positive reputation beyond our traditional geographic area of operation and, in our small world, an element of celebrity.

      Our experience defines the new normal for PR practitioners who engage in social media. Every time a consulting firm like Thornley Fallis encourages its employees to share their experiences and smarts through a blog, we increase the likelihood that we will lose those people to other opportunities. David’s not the first blogger to be scooped up by a bigger firm. He follows a path that in the past six months has been well trod by other high profile bloggers like Jeremy Pepper and Steve Rubel.

      So, will Thornley Fallis stop encouraging our consulting team to blog and explore social media? Heck no!

      We’ll accept that this increased risk is just part of the entry fee to engage in social media. And we’ll understand that it’s better to spend a year learning and exploring with a guy like David Jones than it is to spend a decade of the safe same old, same old practise of techniques we long ago mastered.

      For PR consultancies, it’s grow or die. And we must learn to grow. We will learn to deal with this aspect of blogging.

      And after all, one of the great things of consulting is that we get to hire or join our friends. And Dave’s a good friend. So, you never know what the future may bring…

      Dave, I and all the gang at Thornley Fallis wish you every success at your new gig!