Peter Shankman and Kami Huyse Engage in Epic PR Blog Battle

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Is it really epic? Maybe, but that’s for you to decide. However, Help A Reporter Out founder and all around well-networked PR guru Peter Shankman has gotten into it with another well-networked PR consultant Kami Huyse, after Huyse pointed to a tweet from Shankman that read, “New rule: If your email starts off with ‘I want to pick your brain,’ my reply starts off with ‘at $400 per hour,'” and used it as an example of how “micro-fame breeds arrogance.”


Huyse didn’t mention Shankman’s name in the post, but it wasn’t hard for people to almost immediately connect the tweet back to him. And of course, Shankman unleashed back on Huyse in an open letter on his blog.

This PRNewser knows both Shankman and Huyse personally, and thinks this whole thing is one big waste of time. However, there are a few points to be made.

1) Stand by your words

Huyse said in a response to her original post, “my post had nothing to do with you [Shankman].” That’s why she removed his name, she said, and explained that she was trying to make a bigger point about how, “Tweets can appear arrogant out of context.”

The thing here is, while it’s fine Huyse removed Shankman’s name to make it not about him, you know Shankman is going to find this, or it will get back to him. So, why back pedal and say your post “had nothing do with” the person who’s tweet you highlighted at the top of the post? If you believe it, stand by it!

Also, pointing out that Tweets can appear “arrogant” out of context isn’t exactly a revelation to anyone.

2) So what if Shankman says he wants to charge $400 an hour for his services?

Everyone in the industry knows, or should know, that Shankman is prone to hyperbole. Also, many who know Shankman, as Huyse does, also know that his Twitter feed isn’t exactly always full of serious commentary. It’s a mix of serious, personal and funny stuff.

So, maybe the $400 figure was something posted tongue-in-cheek to begin with. And, if not, all the power to him. Shouldn’t we be celebrating the value of our work, even if we may disagree personally over how different people present it?

Also, who cares if Shankman is perceived as arrogant? We can imagine that when Shankman walks into a consulting gig, he’ll say things like, “I built a company off a Facebook page, from scratch, and turned it into a profitable business in less than a year, and sold it to a public company within two years.”

I know that would impress me much more than any kind of social media statistics. Huyse’s partner, Geoff Livingston can say relatively the same thing, except that he built and sold an agency, not a service.

3) Is personal branding good or bad?

Here’s one area where we disagree with Huyse. She writes, in relation to Shankman and others, “I believe that the relatively recent focus on personal branding is making this worse.” By, “this” she means the “arrogance” people can develop once they have an online following, or some sort of “micro-fame.”

The thing that is hard to understand here, is that Huyse’s new consulting firm, Zoetica, is almost completely built off three “personal brands.” Hers, Geoff Livingston’s and Beth Kanter’s.

Livingston and Huyse can argue all they want that personal branding is different than “reputation” and that what they represent isn’t a “personal brand,” but it’s just not that believable, and frankly, the difference between the two is a rather moot point.

And that’s not a bad thing: People are more likely to call either of them for their opinions on things — whether it be consulting work or a journalist/blogger looking to quote them — because they have developed an online reputation, personal brand, whatever, and have shown they know what they’re talking about. So call that whatever you want, but I’d argue it certainly has helped them in the long run.

Also, for a real life example of why “personal brands” matter, check this out: traffic to LivinstonBuzz, Geoff Livingston’s old blog, has plummeted since he gave it away to CRT/Tanaka last year as part of the deal when they acquired his firm, Livingston Communications. Why? I’d argue because readers were going there to read Geoff Livingston, not a group of PR bloggers they don’t know.

4) Who cares?!

Finally, why does anyone really care about any of this? (Yes, I know that’s contradictory after writing a long post on the matter.) However, focus on your work, and show off your good work to the world. That will do more for you than complaining to each other about the context of tweets and if micro-fame breeds arrogance.

Or, do what Geoff Livingston has been doing and focus on something of true importance.

While many in the social media consultant world continue to bicker about things like the downfalls of Fast Company‘s “Influencer Issue,” Livingston was down in the Gulf Coast on a citizen journalism project, posting many riveting images and reports each day day.