Howard Kurtz published the first MSM look at Mediaite last night in his Media Notes column. Mediaite, the editorial venture that’s part of business image consultancy Abrams Research has drawn fire for lack of church-and-state separation, most recently by Jeff Jarvis, Buzzmachine blogger.
Though the Manhattan media scene knew the launch was impending (by way of Abrams’s Twitter feed and other sources), questions remain unanswered by both Dan Abrams, and his Editor at Large Rachel Sklar. Both have been responding to criticism with somewhat conflicting information, begging the question: is the controversy cultivated to bring in business? Sklar, the former HuffPo blogger, with her considerable connections has been acting as both publicist and editor thus far.
Abrams Research’s proposition is to use working journalists–clarified as freelancers and former journalists in Kurtz’s column–to focus-group and hone clients’ messages. Abrams and Sklar maintain that the Research division and Mediaite venture are completely separate. I spoke to Skar shortly after her scathing “dick move” rebuttal to Jarvis’s slam came out, and didn’t learn anything new about the consultancy, other than she denied the fuss was generated as linkbait, and that presumably the editorial staffers will be paid with ad dollars from Mediaite. Dan Abrams says virtually the opposite in a mediabistro Media Menu podcast interview with Steve Krakauer. If you haven’t followed this particular swim in the fishbowl, Krakauer recently jumped ship from mediabistro’s TVNewser over to Mediaite along with former Fishbowl NY blogger Glynnis MacNicol.
I explained to Sklar during our discussion that these issues don’t matter much in terms of Abrams as a public relations venture. Their clients will be satisfied if they get what they pay for, and their coverage is devoid of mentions of Mediaite, Abrams Research, and the names of people who work at either. However, if Sklar and Abrams bristle at being categorized as a PR firm, then are they offering enough services to attract enough business to pay for both ventures–assuming it takes time for the ad dollars to roll from red to black? Getting at solid messaging through the perspectives through real journalists is a new thing but may be a service fishing for only a fraction of what corporations are paying in monthly retainers. If Abrams continues to keep costs down and continues to generate sizzle with Mediaite, he could do just fine.
PS: Mediaite has been periodically down today, currently serving the message “Error establishing a database connection”.