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    Katie Delahaye Paine (twitter: KDPaine) is the CEO and founder of KDPaine & Partners LLC and author of, Measuring Public Relationships, the data-driven communicators guide to measuring success. She also writes the first blog and the first newsletters dedicated entirely to measurement and accountability. In the last two decades, she and her firm have listened to millions of conversations, analyzed thousands of articles, and asked hundreds of question in order to help her clients better understand their relationships with their constituencies. People talk, we listen..

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March 29, 2007


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The Wired article features lots of loaded language that paints an inaccurately sinister picture - "confidential dossier," "frantically scurrying," etc. When Fred is working on a story or project does he not keep notes? Would he be willing to share drafts with everyone quoted in an article before it is published? Transparency doesn't mean being stupid or sloppy. Due diligence is still part of the equation - on both sides of the conversation. Now sending the memo? That was sloppy.

Adam Zand

Hi Katie,
It was great finally meeting you at New Comm Forum.

Sorry, but I'm not seeing the manipulation here and I do see a lot of relationship building.

It would be a pretty lazy PR firm that wouldn't prep their spokesperson and suggest talking points - not scripting, just providing some guidance.

You're the second person to recommend the New Yorker article today. I'm one of those subscribers who struggles to find the time for more than an article and the cartoons.

In return, pleased to suggest the dark side of PR industry control and paranoia in Vanity Fair, April "Caught in the Spin Cycle," by Michael Wolff. I guess we shoud be thankfully that the PR machine is self-destructing at the gruesome White House.

Buy it for the Sopranos article or check out online:

Cheers, Adam

Jim Dowling

I agree totally with Chip. I think the only thing they're guilty of is incompetence. Aside from pressing 'send' too early, it shows the signs of a well oiled PR machine.

Quite right we should be more bullish about what we do too. We're paid to deliver change - not be happy, warm messengers on behalf of our clients.

The dossier is a healthy piece of evidence of an agency set on behaviour change, albeit on a micro-level with one blogger/journalist.

No-one dies as a result of this memo. Agencies can pull together as many facts and opinions they like in secret dossiers, but the blogger can always say, "sorry, I don't agree, I'm going to post something else."

Chip Griffin

Katie- It sounds to me like we're on the same page. It's just not the message that I took from your original post.

Part of the problem, I think, is that too many in the PR industry cower in the face of the "blog mob" as I like to call it. In this case, at least Frank Shaw responded rather than remaining silent as others have. But I would have liked to have seen him be even more forceful in his rebuttal.

PR and marketing types need to be more forceful in standing up and defending legitimate practices, otherwise the false impression of manipulation and shadiness will remain.

Katie Paine

Chip and Joe, you both make perfectly valid points and I'm not disagreeing with you at all. But according to our research, the blogosphere has a perception of PR as a bunch of manipulating flacks. I'm not agreeing with them, I'm just saying that if you read what the general populace is saying, that's the reputation we have, and the New Yorker piece and the piece this morning aren't going to help that reputation.

Joseph Thornley

Manipulation? Come on, you're better than that. Don't throw loaded words into your lead that cause people to react with emotion rather than reason.

Where's the manipulation?

When I read the memo, I saw hard work and good research. A mirror image of what I hope the reporter also did in preparing for the interview.

Chip Griffin

Not only doesn't it surprise me, but I don't see anything wrong with doing your homework and preparing execs for interviews. Reporters do the same thing -- they research their subjects and take notes. Why can't PR agencies and companies do the same?

Part of developing better relationships is being better informed. Knowing about the person you're meeting with is part of that.

None of what was in that "dossier" was anything out of the ordinary -- it's not as if they went dumpster diving or digging up personal information on the reporter. This was all above board stuff about his reporting, writing, and interview style.

There are many problems with the PR profession, but the only one I see here is being careless enough to send the memo to the reporter.

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