Monday, January 31, 2005

Don't Mind Me. I'm Just Doing My Job

Paul Farhi

Reporters who cover the White House are accustomed to being spun by administration officials. The modern presidential toolbox includes carefully rationed press conferences, say-nothing spokesmen, dead-of-night releases of unfavorable news, and phony "town hall" meetings composed solely of sycophantic supporters. More recently, government agencies have issued fake-news videos and secretly contracted with two pundits to promote the administration's policies on education and marriage.

But now the art of press handling has evolved into actual manhandling. The Bush team has expanded the use of "minders," employees or volunteers who escort journalists from interview to interview within a venue or at a newsworthy event.

We are perilously close to zampolits.

No good deed ever went unpunished

No Relief in Sight for the Lincoln

New York Times link generator

Via Media Culpa:

Need to link to a New York Times article from your weblog? Enter your link here, and we'll give you the weblog-safe link:

Elizabeth Albrycht and Jennifer McClure, conference impresarios extraordinaire

Technoflak has never been to such a fascinating conference as the New Communications Forum. Of course the elegant surroundings set the tone and prepared participants to put forth their best. But the program was perfectly selected to provide practical information, but the whole greater than the sum of its parts so that the overall effect was quite visionary.

It would not surprise me if their firm will own this sort of event.

Silverado County Club

If you ever have the chance to stay at the Silverado Country Club, take it. You enter on a long drive that leads to a circle of palm trees. The mansion is a lovely white building with elegant meeting rooms. The restaurant and banquet rooms open are on a terrace that is open in good weather, but was covered by clear plastic sheeting when I was there because of the rain. But you still had a wonderful view of the exquisitely manicured gardens.

The food is melt-in-your-mouth delicious with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Guests stay in their own charming condos, which dot the grounds. Each condo has a fireplace in a cozy living room and a complete kitchen, along with a spacious bed room, large mirrored vanity around a sink, with the bathroom immediately adjacent.

A better setting for a conference could not have been selected.

Iraq vote count under way after millions brave insurgent bombs

Turkish Press:

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraqi election workers were counting ballots from the country's first free election in half a century after millions braved insurgents' bombs, mortars and threats to cast their vote.

Let’s hope this brings better times for all.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

How to Pitch Bloggers

Technoflak is not much of a believer in presentation software, she prefers to work from notes. Below are her notes for the How to Pitch to Bloggers workshop at the New Communications Forum-

Notes for Pitching to Bloggers

Alice Marshall, founded Presto Vivace, Inc. in 1998 and started publishing Technoflak in February of 2004.

Think of the Godspeed returning to England after its maiden voyage to Jamestown in 1607. Imagine that crew describing the new world to their English friends. That is how much we know about blogosphere. We have sailed a few miles up the James River, found a beach, perhaps walked a few miles inland and that is all. So you should see this presentation, indeed this conference, as the story so far.

My late mother used to say “reporters work for their editors”

Bloggers have no editors. This is an opportunity more than a problem. How many here have had the situation where a reporter was intrigued with your client’s story, but the editor decided it wasn’t news? If a blogger is interested in your story, the blogger will simply run with it.

On the other hand, bloggers are not as philosophical about PR people as reporters. Reporters are supposed to write objective stories about the news of the day. They are not allowed to write rants about the horrible press releases that they receive. Bloggers seem to delight in such posts. I’ve read one on Tech Dirt and even one on Dan Gillmor’s Silicon Valley blog. Dan Gillmor had a Dear PR People letter where he had some kind words for us-
“In summary, I appreciate how difficult the PR job can be, especially dealing with demanding people like reporters.”

Rarely are bloggers as generous as Gillmor. I solicited comments on my blog Technoflak, and these are the ones I received-

Tom Biro of the Media Drop said...

Alice - first off, congrats on getting involved in this session - should be a good thing, for sure.

I'm finding that PR folks are getting a bit better in the last 2-3 months than they were 6-8 months ago with regard to pitching stories. Most of what I receive are just "heads up" emails about articles that might fall under my coverage area, which is great - because there's so much news and information, that I can't possibly read it all, or even find it all, no matter how many Google Alerts I have. I enjoy these, as long as they truly are under what I cover. That said, I have found that replying to messages with pitches that are a step or two away from what TMD covers generally gets a good response, but not always.

In my "hall of shame" are two PR firms who insist on emailing me restaurant openings and other sorts of things completely and totally unrelated to media. That said, I do periodically take part in a hyperlocal blog about a certain town, but these pitches have NOTHING to do with that area. Kind of embarrassing, if you ask me. And to boot, I've tried to get off the list with no result.

I don't have a problem with pitches, as long as they're smart and not too pushy. If you're going to pitch bloggers, you're going to have to respond to them in the same manner that journalists would, as long as they treat you with the same level of respect that a journalist should. It's not just free pub and another clipping.

French (Tekrati)said...

The top failing among PR agencies and vendor marketing/PR pitching my site (Tekrati Industry Analyst Reporter) has been in sending me items that are clearly outside my editorial scope. It's particularly annoying to get a personalized email from someone who clearly never looked at the site. I do not reply to or acknowledge those emails.

Given the sudden rise of directories of blogs, I fully expect to end up on many more PR distribution lists compiled without validation.

The number 2 failing is in not trying to convince me to cover their client's research initiatives, which are outside my editorial beat but very closely related. No one has tried to engage me in a conversation about the value of covering analyst reports or teleconferences sponsored by their vendor clients. So, of course, I continue not to cover them. This situation amuses me, because their clients pay big bucks for integrating the analysts into marketing collateral and lead generation. What other editorial coverage will they get? I guess I would label this as a missed opportunity -- perhaps a lack of understanding of the more fluid and inspiration-based approach to editorial in new Web media.

On the more pleasant side, the winning tactics are used by people like you: a concise, personal (as opposed to personalized) email that describes the proposed content in a way that enables me to see immediately why the item is of interest to me. I give these people my direct email address and encourage them to send submissions at any time. And, I assume two things: these people are validating their blog/new media outreach lists carefully; and these people understand that being less formal is not the same thing as being less professional, when contacting publishers.

On a related note, I'm preparing to convert one of my standard news columns, "AR Scene", to a true blog, and am looking forward to learning from you and the others at Blog U. This will be the first content area of the site that I open to reader comments -- a touchy feature when you cover industry analyst research -- and to my own comments.

Greg Hoffman, CMO said...

I just started my search engine optimization program and I've found pretty good success in pitching my main blog. The USA Today link from Jan. 3 took about a month to come around. Others I'm seeing about a 7-day turn around.
I hope you enjoy my yahoo group for Small Shop PR Agencies. Even though I don't have a small shop, I did for five years and the group gave me great mentors.
Good luck.

Ed Cone-

TechnoFlak is looking for feedback on the subject of pitching stories to bloggers. Not just relevant for PR people, really, but for any link-pimping blogger in search of traffic. My rules are the same on my blog as they are in my paid jobs: know what I write about, pitch me relevant stuff, understand that I'm busy, think less about what I can do for you than what you can do for me.

Once Gillmor received what one trusts is the low point in PR pitches to bloggers-

I just got an e-mail PR pitch for a company that's monitoring online discussions on behalf of corporate clients. Here's part of the pitch:

"(PR client) is a market intelligence and media analysis services firm. (PR client) is working with F1000 companies who are using our services to Manage and Monitor Digital Influencers (such as blogs, message boards, user groups, complaint sites, etc.) as an intelligence and threat awareness tool. (Person's name), CEO could talk to you about 'What F1000 Companies are doing to take action against bloggers' and 'How companies are taking steps to protect their corporate reputations from bloggers/digital influencers.'"

This is a remarkably myopic view of the blogosphere, but it reflects what I frequently hear from PR folks. The new world isn't about managing bloggers. It's about working with them, having a conversation with them.

Meanwhile, Washington Post columnist William Raspberry longs for the olden days when we journalists were the gatekeepers of news. What he sees as a dreadful problem looks more to me like a chance for professionals to do a better job.

No doubt, what's happening is messy. That makes everyone uncomfortable, especially those of us who grew up in a relatively centralized, top-down media environment. But complaining about it won't work. Dealing with it -- not as a threat but an opportunity -- is the only rational answer.

News flash, do not send anti-blogger news releases to bloggers. More particularly, read their blogs and get a feel for what they like to write about.

The first pitch I received was from Keith O’Brien of PRWeek, who very gingerly asked if I would be interested in linking to one of their stories. I said almost certainly, although I would have to see the story first. I linked to it and was very flattered to have been asked. But I am a flack; other bloggers may not feel flattered.

Instead of pitching to the high profile bloggers, notice who they link to and try to pitch to a blogger further down the food chain. Even more than newspapers, once one blogger thinks something is worth posting about, other bloggers will be more likely to link to it.

Lets say you want to promote an event for .Net developers in Washington, DC. You could send the announcement to .Net Banana -,

who would almost certainly run such an item. Then you can send the link to the post to Scobleizer. Should Scoble use the item, you can use that to persuade the Washington Post they should send someone to cover the event.

I encourage you to join email discussion lists in your clients’ industry. For example, I am on the Northern Virginia Java Users Group discussion list. Once, I sent out a request asking which blogs they liked to read; no surprise, the Sun Systems blogs were everybody’s favorite. That is the kind of market research you can do to find out which blogs you should be watching.

Start your own blog if you have not done so; that will give you empathy for other bloggers. I also recommend you do some original reporting. That will give you empathy for reporters.

The most important thing to do is to read blogs. Find out which blogs your clients’ customers read. Those are the blogs you need to follow. And find out which blogs those bloggers link to. That way you can place your clients’ stories in the blogs their prospects are most likely to read.


Tom Foremski's review.
Morgan McLintic’s review.
Anita Campbell's review.
Lois Ambash's review.
Elisa Camahort's review.
Renee Blodgett comments.
Larry Borsato comments.
Capulet comments.

Edit ii
Alice Marshall responds to Paul Graham -
Paul Graham's Submarine
In defense of the trade press

Edit iii
PR Studies comments on Paul Graham's piece.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

The New Communications Forum, On to Europe

How good was the New Communications Forum?

Ooooh weeee!..... We just got back from the New Communications Forum--THIS is the new Demo

This was the place to be this past week bar none. The New Communications Forum conference leaders/organizers Elizabeth Albrycht and Jennifer McClure are grabbing onto the meta level of what is going on, and I was fortunate to be a part of the conference and speak on the journalism panel.

This was the place that gave proof that I/we are not raving lunatics, that blogging is the next killer game-changing/application/process/technology.

That statement will not be understandable to more than a few hundred people at most. And a few dozen of them were at the conference.

No worries if you missed it. The forum will be coming to Europe in April. Technoflak won’t be there, but they have a terrific program lined up. Octavio Rojas will be giving the Pitching to Blogs workshop. This is your chance to persuade your company they must send you to Europe.

On the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

Octavio Rojas alerts us to a BBC program on Auschwitz.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Beethoven in the Audience

Imagine giving a master piano class and discovering Beethoven was in the audience. You will know how Technoflak felt when she discovered Tom Foremski was attending her How to Pitch to Bloggers workshop. Imagine her relief when she discovered he liked her presentation. Now I know how actors feel about performing in front of a big shot reviewer.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Venture capitalists drawn to Maryland

Rebound: Emerging-technology firms locally and nationally attract billions in new investment. (Baltimore Sun, reg. req.):

Venture capital investment in Maryland firms rebounded in 2004, reversing a three-year decline that mirrored a national trend and hinting at better things to come for the state's emerging-technology firms, experts say.

"I think that we'll be seeing [venture] investors nationally looking here to put large amounts of investment capital into numerous companies here," Bill Gust, a veteran venture capitalist who now serves as managing general partner of Anthem Capital Management in Baltimore, said yesterday. "But only the companies that merit it."

Let it be so.

Stock picker, former FBI agent convicted

Pair accused of fraud in short-selling scheme

NEW YORK - Stock picker Anthony Elgindy was convicted of racketeering and fraud yesterday for parlaying illegal tips from an FBI agent into trading profits by short-selling stocks of companies under government investigation.

Elgindy, 36, who also went by the name Anthony Pacific, was convicted by a federal jury in Brooklyn, N.Y., after four days of deliberations in a trial that began in November.

The former agent, Jeffrey Royer, 41, also was convicted. The two men could face 10 to 20 years in prison. ...

After his arrest in May 2002, federal prosecutors suggested that Elgindy may have had advance knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks because he had predicted beforehand that the stock market would collapse and had tried to sell stock in his children's trust funds.

Royer was accused of tipping Elgindy to an FBI probe into whether the Egyptian-born trader knew about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks before they occurred. That investigation did not result in charges against Elgindy, but jurors heard references to it throughout the trial. Elgindy's attorneys said they would examine the issue as they began to plan an appeal.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The struggle for the Hubble Space Telescope

New NASA budget expected to scuttle Hubble rescue plan

On orders from the White House, NASA's next budget reportedly will scuttle as too costly all proposals to repair and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope with a manned shuttle mission or robots.

If upheld by Congress, the decision would mean that the space observatory is likely to suffer gyroscope breakdowns or battery failures that would cripple it by 2007.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat who has strongly supported the space telescope program, vowed over the weekend to continue her fight to save the Hubble.

This would be a terrible loss for science and American prestige. Let’s hope Senator Mikulski can save it.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Elizabeth Albrycht

A few months ago Elizabeth Albrycht asked me if I would be interested in presenting at a conference on blogging she was organizing. I eagerly accepted and was thrilled to have been invited.

She has assembled a terrific program, recruited sponsors, arranged for accommodations, and done everything else involved in putting on a successful conference. The rest of us get to just show up and enjoy the glory.

Nothing happens without volunteer effort, not even in business. Thank you Elizabeth Albrycht.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Fear not blogosphere

Ed Cone does a great job of explaining why traditional media should welcome blogosphere:

Second -- and this is even more important, because undeniable empirical evidence will correct the misperceptions noted above -- part of the value of blogging lies in exactly the aspect he sees as its weakness: the blog as hub of a tiny community. But small communities are valuable, the people in them care deeply about the church or kids soccer team or, yes, the cats involved. To compare these communities to mass-market media is to miss the point. And to ignore the possible economic value of these tiny sites when aggregated is to write off an enormous potential market.

Small communities and individual perspectives can help mass media by providing them more information, more sources, more references and links, than they could possibly generate alone. At Harvard on Friday, MSNBC president Rick Kaplan said blogs help improve ratings for his programs, and New York Times managing editor Jill Abramson -- not undefensive, but not uncurious -- listened to the amen chorus singing. As Jay Rosen puts it, "the forces of denial are in retreat."

The downside of upgrades

Dead Electronics Going to Waste (reg.req.):

In today's high-tech era, the temptation for upgrades is everywhere: a slimmer cell phone, a sleeker desktop, a sportier BlackBerry.

But the consequences of the constant quest for better gadgetry are piling up. Every time last year's monitor is chucked, it becomes a piece of potentially hazardous waste.

Microsoft sings the unsolicited commercial email blues

Salon (subscription or day pass required):

To hide their tracks, spammers have always misappropriated the computers of innocent third parties. But the rise of Windows zombies is arguably the gravest problem facing spam opponents today. By one estimate, over 60 percent of junk e-mail now originates from home PCs that spammers have commandeered with the help of virus writers and hackers.

With an ever-growing arsenal of Windows zombies under their control, spammers can evade some spam filters, which have trouble keeping current lists of the addresses of known zombie systems. What's more, spammers have used their networks of zombied computers to launch denial-of-service attacks on sites operated by blacklist services and other anti-spam organizations. ...

Microsoft's anti-spam initiatives may be hampered, however, by what Prince and other experts describe as the firm's split personality over junk e-mail. Microsoft's MSN and Hotmail services appear determined to run spammers off their networks on a rail. But the company's other business units want to preserve Microsoft's ability to use unsolicited e-mail in, for example, cross-marketing to existing customers.

Mircrosoft’s failure to make security a priority is threatening the whole Internet.

Friday, January 21, 2005

New to blog roll

A stop at the intersection of media, culture and politics: How newspapers, magazines, television and film influence reality and shape ideologies.

Rick Edelman’s Speak Up

2005 Joint PRSA Technology and Military & Public Safety Conference


Contact: Alissa A. Marisch


"Technology, Defense & National Security: Collaborating to address the risks and rewards of communication"

NEW YORK, NY (December 17, 2004) - The Technology and Military & Public Safety Sections of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) released the Call for Presentations for their joint professional development conference. The conference will be held at the Wyndham City Center in Washington, D.C. on June 6, 2005.

"This marks the first time that these two Professional Interest Sections from PRSA have jointly held their professional development conferences," said Dr. Joe Trahan, APR, Chair of PRSA's new Military & Public Safety Section. "We see this conference as an opportunity for two groups who are facing related challenges to discuss the current issues effecting public relations and the best collaboration strategies."

The conference will focus on two tracks and include additional sessions: (Track 1) The Technology Imperative and (Track 2) Essential Discussions for Military & Public Safety Professionals. This year's theme "Technology, Defense & National Security: Collaborating to Address the Risks and Rewards of Communication" will address the individual issues that public relations practitioners in the Technology and Military Sections are facing, such as the effect of new technologies and "participatory journalism" on the news cycle, strategies for securing critical information while maintaining truthful and accurate communications, ensuring ethical communications that are in the public interest, staying prepared for security risks and the chancy nature of both sectors' trade media.


Just received this email. Looks like an interesting program. Technoflak will not be submitting a presentation this year.

A new analyst model emerging?

Tom Murphy points to a new analyst firm based on Open Source business model. James Grovernor of Red Monk is now offering analyst reports under a Creative Commons licensee. This is a lucky find for small practitioners like Presto Vivace, Inc.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Kenneth Thibodeau at NCC AIIM

Aliya Sternstein

The $500 million Electronic Records Archives project remains on track, program director Kenneth Thibodeau said last week.

Officials for the National Archives and Records Administration still expect to choose an ERA team in August, even though Harris' progress was delayed by last fall's hurricanes that hit Florida, where the company's Government Communications Systems Division facilities are located. A Harris-led team is competing with a group led by Lockheed Martin for the ERA project.

NARA officials have already completed their baseline review of the proposals, Thibodeau said.

"We're in a horse race, and we're happy with the deliverables we've been getting," he said, speaking Jan. 13 during a joint meeting of the National Capitol Chapter of the Association for Information and Image Management International and the Association of Information Management Professionals. "We're going to have a tough call. Both teams came out alive."

Jay Rosen needs to get over himself

Jay Rosen has set up shop as assignment editor for PR Blogosphere. He is upset that we failed to sufficiently vilify the hapless Ketchum Associates. According to Rosen: For PR bloggers especially, this was a moment for them to shine and for the most part they did not show up.

Rosen goes on to say, “Bloggers are supposed to be a little more curious than most. They are supposed to apply a second degree of scrutiny as they do "their job" in the new ecosystem of news. When the press pack goes that-a-way they ought to look this-a-way more. And they should be alert to events in the moral life of the people whose world they chronicle.”

Sez who?

Initially Rosen gave credit only to Jeremy Pepper and Rick Edelman for commenting on the story. Actually many PR Bloggers commented on the pathetic affair; Tom Murphy has a round up of all of all the posts.

A blog is simply electronic paper on a network. Other than the laws on libel, invasion of privacy, and copyright, bloggers have no obligations. That is the beauty of blogosphere, it is entirely up to the reader to judge what, if anything, is worth reading.

Note - Ben Silverman has his own marvelous take on this.

Presidential oath of office

Article II, section 1, clause 8:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Tips for Writing Better Blog Posts

B.L. Ochman has a great post on writing for blogs. Her advice is good for any kind of marketing/communications writing. But I would quibble with one of her tips:

Aim at keeping your posts at about 250 words.

I would suggest writers write whatever is necessary to achieve their purpose and no more. Technoflak’s most popular posts are the long descriptions of local tech events. If your subject requires 2000 words, then use 2000 words.

Tagging comment spam

Neville Hobson brings us the good news.

Preventing comment spam

If you're a blogger (or a blog reader), you're painfully familiar with people who try to raise their own websites' search engine rankings by submitting linked blog comments like "Visit my discount pharmaceuticals site." This is called comment spam, we don't like it either, and we've been testing a new tag that blocks it. From now on, when Google sees the attribute (rel="nofollow") on hyperlinks, those links won't get any credit when we rank websites in our search results. This isn't a negative vote for the site where the comment was posted; it's just a way to make sure that spammers get no benefit from abusing public areas like blog comments, trackbacks, and referrer lists.

Very encouraging.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

4th Annual O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference

San Diego, CA * March 14-17 2005

Citizen engineers are throwing their warranties to the wind, hacking their TiVos, Xboxes, and home networks. Wily geeks are jacking Jetsons-like technology into their cars for music, movies, geolocation, and internet connectivity on the road. E-commerce and network service giants like Amazon, eBay, PayPal, and Google are decoupling, opening, and syndicating their services, then realizing and sharing the network effects. Professional musicians and weekend DJs are serving up custom mixes on the dance floor. Operating system and software application makers are tearing down the arbitrary walls they've built, turning the monolithic PC into a box of loosely coupled component parts and services. The massive IT infrastructure of the '90s is giving way to what analyst Doc Searls calls "do-it-yourself IT."

We see all of this as a reflection of the same trend: the mass amateurization of technology, or, as Fast Company put it, "the amateur revolution." And it's these hacks, tweaks, re-combinations, and shaping of the future we're exploring in this year's Emerging Technology Conference theme: Remix.

You'll see it in ETech's roll-up-your-sleeves tutorials, meaty and to-the-point plenary presentations, and real world focused breakout sessions. The remix spirit pervades the science-fair atmosphere of our evening events, and spills out into the hallway conversations of hackers and luminaries.

PowerPoint Annoyances Needed for New Book

From the CPCUG Consultant/Entrepreneurs Discussion List:

Dear User Group Leader:

According to Microsoft estimates, at least 30 million PowerPoint presentations are made every day. The program has about 95% of the presentations-software market. And yet, it drive audiences and presenters crazy! To relieve the stress, O'Reilly is pulling together a new book called "PowerPoint Annoyances" and, once again, we'd like your help! As you might guess, "PowerPoint Annoyances" ponders the problems, snarls, quirks, bugs, and just dumb things about PowerPoint. The annoyances will encompass a range of topics: tables, charts, backgrounds, colors, fonts, animation, sound, video, projectors, and more.

If any members of your group have annoyances they'd like to see solved, have them email marsee[@]oreilly[.]com with "PowerPoint Annoyances" in the subject line. Just have them note what version of PowerPoint and Windows they're using.

As always, thanks for sharing.


Call for papers, Web-Enabled Government Conference

Web-Enabled Government 2005:Transforming the Business of Government
Conference and Exhibition
June 1-2, 2005
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC


Deadline for Abstract Submission is Thursday, February 3, 2005.

The FCW Media Group, producer of E-Gov Institute events and publisher of Federal Computer Week, is pleased to announce a Call for Participation for the 5th Annual Web-Enabled Government Conference: Transforming the Business of Government, to be held June 1-2, 2005 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC. This is your opportunity to participate in the Web-Enabled Government 2005 Conference as a member of the faculty.

This conference will enable public sector professionals to discuss how they are meeting “Proud to Be Goals” and making progress on the objectives outlined in the President’s Management Agenda, measuring performance results, and taking steps to streamline information-sharing across organizations and agency enterprises.

Firms Fear Backlash From Williams Case

Public Relations Industry Takes Offensive To Protect Lucrative Federal Contracts

Public relations firms that are paid millions of dollars a year by the federal government to promote programs and policies are worried the money might dry up because of the Armstrong Williams flap at the Department of Education.

A deluge of government business in recent years has helped make Washington a growing market for public relations firms. To protect that market, PR executives are voicing their objections to that kind of deal, in which the commentator was paid to tout Bush administration education policy in television and radio appearances.

If there are any more cases of federally financed payola, Rep. Slaughter will find them. But there is much more at stake than future contracts for D.C. based PR firms. Public relations is based on the existence of a credible, independent press. The news is not for sale.

In memory of Marjorie Williams

Post Columnist Marjorie Williams Dies

Marjorie Williams, 47, a Washington Post columnist known for her elegantly crafted essays on American society and fearless profiles of the political elite, died of cancer Jan. 16 at her home in Washington.

Ms. Williams produced definitive journalism across a range of forms, from short essays to in-depth magazine pieces. Ms. Williams was an editor of great promise in her twenties and became a piercing portraitist of Washington power in her thirties, writing profiles of government and media leaders for The Post and Vanity Fair magazine.

Monday, January 17, 2005

I've Been to the Mountaintop

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered this speech in support of the striking sanitation workers at Mason Temple in Memphis, TN on April 3, 1968 — the day before he was assassinated.

Thank you very kindly, my friends. As I listened to Ralph Abernathy in his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself, I wondered who he was talking about. It's always good to have your closest friend and associate say something good about you. And Ralph is the best friend that I have in the world.

I'm delighted to see each of you here tonight in spite of a storm warning. You reveal that you are determined to go on anyhow. Something is happening in Memphis, something is happening in our world.

As you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of general and panoramic view of the whole human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, "Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?" — I would take my mental flight by Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn't stop there. I would move on by Greece, and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality.

But I wouldn't stop there. I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire. And I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. But I wouldn't stop there. I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance, and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and esthetic life of man. But I wouldn't stop there. I would even go by the way that the man for whom I'm named had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church in Wittenberg.

But I wouldn't stop there. I would come on up even to 1863, and watch a vacillating president by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. But I wouldn't stop there. I would even come up to the early thirties, and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation. And come with an eloquent cry that we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

But I wouldn't stop there. Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, "If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy." Now that's a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a away that men, in some strange way, are responding — something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee — the cry is always the same — "We want to be free."

And another reason that I'm happy to live in this period is that we have been forced to a point where we're going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demand didn't force them to do it. Survival demands that we grapple with them. Men, for years now, have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it's nonviolence or nonexistence.

The King Center

Sunday, January 16, 2005

In observance of Martin Luther King Day

Letter From a Birmingham Jail

April 16, 1963


While confined here in the Birmingham City Jail, I came across your recent statement calling our present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom, if ever, do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would be engaged in little else in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine goodwill and your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I would like to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should give the reason for my being in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the argument of "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every Southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliate organizations all across the South--one being the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Whenever necessary and possible we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago our local affiliate here in Birmingham invited us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented and when the hour came we lived up to our promises. So I am here, along with several members of my staff, because I have basic organizational ties here.

Beyond this, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the eighth century prophets left their little villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns; and just as the Apostle Paul left his little village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every hamlet and city of the Graeco-Roman world, I too am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere in this country.

You deplore the demonstrations that are presently taking place in Birmingham. But I am sorry that your statement did not express a similar concern for the conditions that brought the demonstrations into being. I am sure that each of you would want to go beyond the superficial social analyst who looks merely at effects, and does not grapple with underlying causes. I would not hesitate to say that it is unfortunate that so-called demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham at this time, but I would say in more emphatic terms that it is even more unfortunate that the white power structure of this city left the Negro community with no other alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: 1) Collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive. 2) Negotiation. 3) Self-purification and 4) Direct action. We have gone through all of these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying of the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community.

The King Center

Friday, January 14, 2005

Three cheers for Elliot Sloane

Talking Points Memo points to PRWeek’s coverage of the Ketchum imbroglio:

NEW YORK: Sloane & Company CEO Elliot Sloane withdrew his agency's membership in the Council of PR Firms Wednesday following Council president Kathy Cripps' comments defending Ketchum in a New York Times story.

"The reaction of the Council... disappointed me, because I would expect that the trade organization that represents our industry would be more forceful in talking about guidelines, roles and responsibilities, and ethics," Sloane said.

In the Times article published Wednesday, Cripps said that Ketchum's contract to promote the "No Child Left Behind" act by paying a commentator $240,000 did not violate the Council's code of ethics because the onus for full disclosure rested on Armstrong Williams, not the agency.

By contrast, PRSA president Judith Phair called Ketchum's situation "a shame, disturbing and harmful."

"The Council does not represent my firm's views, our thinking, or the thinking, potentially, of many others in the industry," said Sloane.

It all goes back to what I said before, the news is not for sale.

FBI Rejects Its New Case File Software

By Jonathan Krim
Washington Post Staff Writer

The FBI said yesterday that a nearly $170 million computer system intended to help agents share data about terrorist threats and other criminal cases is seriously deficient and will be largely abandoned before it is launched.

The software, known as Virtual Case File, was supposed to provide a modern database for storing and indexing all case information and entries by agents, enabling them to share files electronically and search easily for links between cases that might not otherwise seem connected.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, right, conferred with Sept. 11 panelist Jamie S. Gorelick last year. "There were problems we did not anticipate," he said about the new computer software yesterday.

Such capability might have enabled agents to more closely link men who later turned out to be involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to intelligence reviews conducted after the terrorist strikes.

If they had just listened to Coleen Rowley they could have prevented the attacks.

From Government Computer News: Draft report suggests end for FBI’s case management app

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

How to present to venture capitalists

A Venture Capitalist points to Allen Morgan’s fourth commandment for entrepreneurs:

So…you’ve obeyed the first three Commandments:

· Commandment #1: you’ve contacted the right partner in the VC firm,

· Commandment #2: you’ve arrived early to make sure you’re ready to roll when the VC (who will usually be late) shows up, and

· Commandment #3: you’ve tried your best to carefully crafted your pitch so that it “teases, but doesn’t overwhelm”. ....

Here are a few suggestions:

· Ask how any of his relevant portfolio companies relate to your startup idea (and make sure that you’ve visited the web sites of those relevant portfolio companies).

· Ask what other startup deals in this space has he looked at,

· Where does his interest in the space come from,

· What does he see as the major problems facing any startup in this area, etc.

· Listening carefully to the answers to these types of “range-finding” questions will help you make sure you don’t inadvertently head off in the wrong direction – which many entrepreneurs, believe it or not, do.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

IBM to Help Open-Source Developers

Use of 500 Patents Could Boost Collaboration on Free Software

IBM Corp. plans to announce today that it is giving away rights to 500 of its software patents to help a growing community of developers who build software collaboratively and distribute it for free.

The donated patents span a wide range of technologies, from data storage to networking to electronic commerce. The company said the patents could be used by any individual or entity that is developing open-source software, which grew from the work of a handful of programming enthusiasts into a potent challenger to vendors of proprietary software systems such as Microsoft Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc.

This is a terrific development. It is also a wise move on IBM’s part. Politically it would be impossible to promote open systems and simultaneously defend its patents.

Just one more sign that open source is the way of the future.

Blogging Guidelines

PR Machine points to Nancy Flynn’s article on Blog Rules. For the most part it looks reasonable except for this-

To help prevent smoking-gun blog content from triggering a workplace lawsuit, stock slide, or media feeding frenzy, prohibit employees from posting negative opinions or critical comments about the company's people, products, and services.

Part of the credibility of Robert Scoble comes from the fact that he will criticize Microsoft. But obviously you would not want employees making personal criticism of their coworkers.

A worthy checklist for presentation planning

Neville Hobson points to an excellent guide for presentation planning. Best tip on the whole list-

DO have a 2 or 3 sentence description of what you do. This should be simple and straightforward. You grandparents should hear you say this and say ‘oh – I get it’.

Monday, January 10, 2005

How to Pitch Bloggers

Technoflak will be teaching the How to Pitch Bloggers Workshop at the New Communications Forum. Obviously I have my own ideas about this, but I would be interested in what my readers think. Are you a blogger? What pitches did you use? What gets your delete button? What gets your PR hall of shame?

Have you successfully pitched a blog? What are the differences between pitching a journalists and a blogger in your experience?

Ed Cone has some advice that goes to the heart of all PR pitches, “think less about what I can do for you than what you can do for me.”

Sunday, January 09, 2005

How controlling the message can get out of control

Micro Persuasion points to Jason Clacanis’ open letter to Steve Jobs:

You’ve worked the public into a frenzy over your products, and we as the press are covering that enthusiasm. Your employees and partners send us tips all day long, and we as journalists cover those tips. That’s what we do!

Sometimes those tips pan out, most times they don’t. It’s all part of the pop and circumstance of the technology industry.

Don’t you think it’s fun that everyone is playing this game of cat and mouse? Don’t you appreciate that people are so obsessed with your work that they launch a site called Think *Secret*? Most companies would love to have this attention, and your response it to sue the press that feeds you?

From Forbes:

NEW YORK - It is widely acknowledged that Apple Computer enjoys the kind of slavish devotion among its customers--and fawning adoration from the press--of which other companies don't even dare to dream. That is, it's acknowledged by everyone but Apple.

How else to explain Apple's latest attempt to clamp down on, rather than embrace, its fanatical fans? CNET first reported on Wednesday that the company, earlier this week, filed a lawsuit--and not its first--against a Web site called, for publishing details of an Apple product that the Web site says will be announced by the company at next week's MacWorld conference in San Francisco.

Make no mistake, there's a good chance that the source of ThinkSecret's story about plans for a $500 Mac and new business software did break whatever legal agreement not to divulge the information that they had agreed to with Apple. And, one must assume it is at least partly true, or Apple wouldn't bother suing.

But, this sort of stuff happens all the time in the tech industry. Sources leak details of forthcoming products to reporters whose motivation is to get credit for an exclusive story. Here's the difference with Apple: most of its secret product news is not published first by national, mainstream media, but by Apple advocates. These people are customers, fans and Apple-lovers.

This community gives Apple untold free--and mostly positive--publicity and buzz about upcoming products and strategies. They salivate over every upgrade. This is a pre-iPod gang--people who supported Apple before the second coming of Steve Jobs in 1997. Consider that it was Apple enthusiasts who helped drive the market for the iPod after its 2001 release, despite a widely held perception that the $399 price tag was too high.

And, the leak certainly hasn't hurt the company's stock price. Since news of the cheap Macs hit on Dec. 28, two investment banks have issued bullish reports on the developments and Apple's shares have risen 33 cents, to $64.55.

This is not the first time Apple has clamped down on its own customers. Nor has Apple learned anything from Microsoft’s phenomenal success with employee blogging.

Apple has been kept in business by customers so enthusiastic we resemble rock star fans more than customers of a business machine. The enthusiasm of its followers, for so we may be described, is the company’s most valuable asset. This is not the way to cultivate that asset.

Technology PR is not about control, it is about moving merchandise.

Iran censors bloggers

No blogging, no social networking

Friends in Iran, journalists and technicians, are saying that judiciary officials have ordered all major ISP to filter all blogging services including PersianBlog, BlogSpot, Blogger, BlogSky, and even BlogRolling.

They have also ordered to filter Orkut, Yahoo Personals and some other popular dating and social networking websites.

For ISPs this means a big loss, since much of their recent sales have been because of people writing and reading blogs and surfing Orkut. So the government is effectively eliminating small and private ISPs by bankrupting them, whiteout paying a political price for it.

This is a terrible sign and I hope the US and European Union will vigorously protest this.

Will someone please give Ketchum Associates the memo?

New York Times (registration required):

But the arrangement, which started in late 2003 and was first reported yesterday by USA Today, also stipulated that a public relations firm hired by the department would "arrange for Mr. Williams to regularly comment on N.C.L.B. during the course of his broadcasts," that "Secretary Paige and other department officials shall have the option of appearing from time to time as studio guests," and that "Mr. Williams shall utilize his long-term working relationships with 'America's Black Forum' " - an African-American news program - "to encourage the producers to periodically address the No Child Left Behind Act."

This is not the first time Ketchum has been caught manufacturing news. What is so stunning is the blatant venality. Usually these things are done with enough subtlety to preserve the fiction of journalistic integrity.

Whoever wrote the contract must have been a political appointee, for there isn’t a career civil servant on the face of the earth dumb enough to write an illegal requirement into a procurement contract.


Will someone tell Laurence Moskowitz That you can’t say one thing to the New York Times and an entirely different thing to PR Week.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Coming attractions

New Communications Forum 2005

New Panel Added in Partnership with Corante

The Power Laws and You, the panel will be moderated by Stowe Boyd, of Corante's Get Real blog. He will be joined by Greg Reinacker, the Founder and CTO of NewsGator Technologies, among others. The panel will be videocast live.

How can I detect a root kit hack?

chkrootkit is a tool to locally check for signs of a rootkit.

Information Law & Policy in the Digital Age

NCC-AIIM 2005 Brown Bag Lunch Series

Once a legal backwater that interested only specialists, information law issues are now considered central to the nation’s communications, legal and economic infrastructure. While information law is more important than ever, information professionals often lack the necessary knowledge and tools to navigate the thicket of laws, regulations, treaties and policies. This brown bag luncheon series will address some of the most important legal and policy issues that information professionals face today. Sponsored by the DC Chapter of SLA, National Capitol Chapter (NCC) of AIIM, the Washington DC Chapter of SCIP, Northern Virginia Chapter of ARMA, Federal Law Librarians’ SIS, and Adobe Systems Inc., this series will identify information professionals’ responsibilities, providing a forum for discussing and resolving some of the profession’s most important issues, sharing resources for further research and problem-solving.

Join us on the second Wednesday of each month, January – April 2005, as we explore copyright, fair use, licensing digital resources, digital rights management, and open access.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Funky tiger indeed

This post is intended as a scam alert and warning to spammers that Technoflak will expose you and encourages readers to do likewise.

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Date: Tue, 04 Jan 2005 20:39:01 -0600
From: "Geraldine Tabor"
Subject: Investors, Microcap Profile for You
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GET IN "IOGN" NOW! HUGE NEWS - iStorage Networks, Inc. Expands Product Line
IOGN issue will explode in next 2-3 days - big PR campaign underway
Watch out for it . Jump on board it will explode on Monday.. Stock expected to SOAR - Read news at the end of this profile. It will explode!!
Speculative target price in 1-2 days: $0.37 - 0.39

Speculative target price in 10 days : $0.46

MicroCap Marketing PLAY OF THE WEEK for our investors is iStorage Inc. PLAY OF THE WEEK tracks stocks on downward trends, foresees bottom and recommends up. IOGN is our next profile :


iStorage Inc. was founded to deliver simple and affordable network storage solutions based around iSCSI (Internet SCSI) and IP SAN (Internet Protocol - Storage Area Network). These product offerings are optimized for the mid-range market place including small medium businesses, departments, and workgroups for service applications such as Server consolidation, Data Replication, Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity .

The key to iStorage products is simplicity. Easy to install. Easy to manage. First class service and support in pre and post sales means resellers, OEM?s and integrators can employ these products as solutions to data storage problems where the customer is not a networking rocket scientist. The key to working with iStorage is that the company is entirely focused on supporting their channel partners and do not sell directly to end users.

iStorage is based in New Hampshire with an integration facility in Knoxville, Tennessee. Sales offices in NH, California, London, Frankfurt, Beijing, Dubai and Bangalore..

Speculative target price in 1-2 days: $0.37 - 0.39

Speculative target price in 10 days : $0.46


GILFORD, N.H., 2004 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- iStorage Networks, Inc. (Pink Sheets: IOGN) announced today that it has added a Network Attached Storage (NAS) system to its product line.

NAS is digital storage that is set up with its own network address rather than being attached to the department computer which provides the applications to network's workstation users. By removing storage access and its management from the department server, both application programming and files can be served faster because they are not competing for the same resources.

Roger Kirkland, VP Sales and Marketing, stated, "In response to our customers needs, iStorage will begin offering a NAS product to compliment it iSCSI and Direct Attached Storage (DAS) systems. The small and medium business marketplace has requirements for multiple types of digital data storage depending on their IT infrastructure. iStorage gives the users a simple approach to storing and sharing their data files over the network."

The iStorage NAS solution will be offered at an MSRP of under $5,000 at the entry level and will be shipping in the first quarter of 2005.


Speculative target price in 1-2 days: $0.37 - 0.39

Speculative target price in 10 days : $0.46

Read below before you invest:


Information within this email contains "forward looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21B of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Any statements that express or involve discussions with respect to predictions, goals, expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, objectives, assumptions or future events or performance are not statements of historical fact and may be "forward looking statements." Forward looking statements are based on expectations, estimates and projections at the time the statements are made that involve a number of risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results or events to differ materially from those presently anticipated. Forward looking statements in this action may be identified through the use of words such as: "projects", "foresee", "expects", "estimates," "believes," "understands" "will," "part of: "anticipates," or that by statements indicating certain actions "may," "could," or "migh!
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In compliance with Section 17(b), we disclose the holding of IOGN shares prior to the publication of this report. Be aware of an inherent conflict of interest resulting from such holdings due to our intent to profit from the liquidation of these shares. Shares may be sold at any time, even after positive statements have been made regarding the above company. Since we own shares, there is an inherent conflict of interest in our statements and opinions. Readers of this publication are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which are based on certain assumptions and expectations involving various risks and uncertainties, that could cause results to differ materially from those set forth in the forward- looking statements.

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Treasuries slide as Fed report implies rate rises

Financial Times:

US Treasury bonds weakened sharply on Tuesday, sending yields firmly higher after the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting implied interest rates still had some way to rise.

It was the first time that the minutes have been published before the next meeting has taken place. The Fed said that the real Fed funds rate target - currently at 2.25 per cent - was still below the level needed to keep inflation stable.

“This statement fairly clearly lays out the prospect of further tightening ahead, with no sense that a funds rate this side of 3 per cent would reduce accommodation to the point where intermediate risks on costs and prices were not to the upside,” said Alan Ruskin, director of research at 4Cast consultancy.

Not a good sign.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Great headlines

Organizing Your SOX Drawer

National Security vs. Crony Journalism

Robert Novak 'Failing as a Journalist' in Plame Affair?

NEW YORK -- In its first major look at Robert Novak and his role in the Valerie Plame/CIA probe, The New York Times today reports that a growing number of media ethics specialists, lawyers and journalists are criticizing the columnist “as failing as a journalist” by not outlining for the public his dealings with the investigation.

"He has become part of the story," Lucy Dalglish, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, told the Times. "He should disclose what's going on. Everyone else has."

There is such a gruesome lack of perspective in this case it is difficult to know where to begin. Everyone concerned in this disgraceful matter has failed, Novak, every editor who ran that column, and every reporter to whom this story was shopped and kept quiet. If someone in the government calls you and asks you to betray a CIA case officer you do not simply think it over. You immediately alert the American people to the identity of the traitor in their government. A journalist’s obligation is to their readers, not their sources.

It is obscene to discuss intelligence reform and improving our human intelligence network while the whole world knows we tolerate a traitor in our government. No one will work with us. Moreover, if we fail to bring this criminal to justice, or worse still, institutionalize the pernicious practice of anonymous sources, every intelligence organization on the face of the earth will target our news media for recruitment. It would be the perfect cover, because even if it were known a journalist was a traitor it could never be proven in a court of law.

Tsunami update: Chennai, India: 30, Dec 2004

A message from the Ad-Marketing discussion list:

I'm in Chennai currently. I went to school and college in this city, normally a peaceful, placid place. This disaster is unparalleled in Chennai's history -

The quake per se had minimal effect, at least in Chennai. Not too sure about other places - I hear that the entire island of Sumatra has been displaced by 100 feet! That should tell you how powerful the earthquake was

The tsunamis were the real killers in South India, Sri Lanka and the islands of the Indian Ocean (Andaman, Nicobar, Thailand, Maldives). Tsunamis don't really gain height until they're very close to the shore. And given their tremendous speeds, (up to 500 miles per hour), the danger was evident too late if you were unlucky enough to be on the water or near the shore.

Fishermen and their families

Tourists and early morning strollers..

Children playing cricket on the beaches.

All gone.

And the death toll continues to mount.

A plea to all: even $10 can make a difference.

Some relief agencies that my staff and I have donated to

Doctors Without Borders
The Red Cross
Save the Children

There's information about other agencies and all other aspects of this
disaster on Tsunami Help Blog.

A somber ending to 2004.

Peace to all and best wishes for 2005


Saturday, January 01, 2005

On New Year’s Day

I had planned to say Happy New Year and link to the Radetsky March, but somehow in the aftermath of the tsunami that seems inappropriate. So I will join Jim Horton in wishing readers a New Year of health and peace.

In the meantime, don’t forget those whose New Year does not look very bright.


Dedicated blogs and resources

How can I be sure the money will be used wisely?

The confirmed dead is now at 158,848. So many broken hearts, no words for such a loss.