Dan Abrams is stumped.
Last week the former MSNBC anchor announced he was launching Abrams Research, a consulting business which would, among other things, feature working journalists helping business executives handle PR challenges. The reception in the media has ranged from cautious optimism to outright dismissal — Abrams thinks something was lost in the translation.
“As media organizations around the country are cutting back on full time employees, I would hope my brethren in the media would celebrate the idea of helping them find employment rather than hurling often false and misleading accusations at my business,” he tells TVNewser.
Abrams says so far he has received more than 600 applications for membership from on his Web site, and he has identified “thousands of people globally” who could be part of the community. He tells TVNewser he has received more than 100 inquiries from potential clients, with some close to signing.
So why all the misgivings? “We view ourselves as part of the journalistic community,” says Abrams. “I would have thought that a lot of people would welcome the idea that we are a) uniting business and media in a way I think will be helpful to both, and b) providing employment to people in the media.”
But news organizations are speaking out. New York Magazine’s Daily Intel talked with representatives from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, who said they wouldn’t allow their employees to take part in Abrams Research. But Abrams doesn’t mind — he wasn’t aiming for them anyway.
“New York Magazine’s inquiry was interesting and we thank them for making the calls on behalf of our business, but we were never ever going to try to get those people in the network,” Abrams says.
Abrams points to the language in the contract that each member of the network would have to sign as proof. The contract reads:
You represent to Abrams Research that your execution and delivery of this agreement and your membership in Abrams Research Network does not and will not breach or conflict with any other agreements, arrangements, understanding or employment or other relationship to which you are or become a party…You may only join Abrams Research Network and qualify as a network member if you are permitted to do so and have obtained all necessary consents or waivers from appropriate parties.
So who does that leave? Says Abrams, “A lot of really talented people.
“It leaves freelancers not bound by certain guidelines. It leaves us with people who recently left one of these jobs. Someone who left to go write a book, for example. We certainly can reach out to certain bloggers. We can certainly reach out to people who have years of experience in media who are now doing something else.”
One of the concerns we’ve heard from journalists is that media training from actual journalists will end up giving an unfair advantage to the subjects they cover. “Our goal here is not to beat the press. I’ll leave the beating of the press to my old show,” says Abrams. “People inside the media forget there are a lot of people outside the media that don’t know how to talk about what it is they do. That’s not spinning.”
He also says, “When it comes to pure PR, we’re going to hand it off to one of the great PR media strategy firms.”
So the Verdict is still out on Abrams Research. But for now, Abrams says the press should calm down. “A lot of people out there are making this more complicated than it is,” he says.