Guest Post: Peter Himler on Media Relations Summit 2009

The following is a guest post from Flatiron Communications Principal and The Flack blogger Peter Himler. Himler reports from this week’s Media Relations Summit in New York.

The last two years took the Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit to the Beltway and the Bay area. This year, it was the Big Apple’s turn to host the annual PR/media confab.

Two Dans keynoted. Mr. Rather, I’m told, offered a somewhat sobering assessment of the current state of (and prospects for) journalism, while Mr. Abrams waxed on his new PR consulting model that taps journalists (many out of work) as “experts” to advise on crisis and mainstream and social media strategies.

I caught Abrams keynote in which he described himself as a “walking living breathing axis of evil,” i.e., lawyer, journalist and now PR person.


I also had a chance to talk with him immediately following his preso. In addition to “2500 freelancers,” Abrams Research has wisely chosen to align itself with some established agencies including Abernathy MacGregor, Dan Klores, Qorvis and The Horn Group. He said he was inclined to channel specialized assignments to these agencies when his network of freelancers is not be suitable.

On Monday, I had a chance to listen in on a panel discussion about the state of corporate blogs featuring Kodak’s Jennifer Cisney, RealNetworks’ Lacy Kemp and moderator Debbie Weil. I also sat on the Twitter panel alongside Mr. Abrams’ colleague (and Daily Beast contributor) Rachel Sklar, PR 2.0’s Brian Solis and Sally Falkow.

For the corporate blogging panel, Weil raised the question about what restrictions, if any, did the companies place on the content. Kodak’s Cisney said she’s never been told what not to blog about, but explained that her three blogs are non-controversial: passion for photography, reviews/product-specific and how to grow one’s business (B-to-B).

RealNetworks’ Kemp admitted that her company advised her to avoid the company’s current litigation or any material news. She explained, however, that RealNetworks built a separate litigation site on which news stories — “good, bad and ugly” — were posted for all to see.

Later that day, we convened our Twitter panel before a packed house. The session turned to Ford’s social media chief and prolific Twitterer Scott Monty. (Don’t they all?) One meme revolved around the use of a personal versus corporate brand name on Twitter. All agreed that Scott’s persona was a fab asset to the sole big-three automaker that refused a Fed bailout.

Even so, this blogger had to ask what would happen if Scott decided to depart Ford, taking his 20K+ followers with him? Scott caught wind of the meme, being the good listener that he is, and offered the following:

Scott Monty @daveyarmon Tell @peterhimler that it’s no different than when the Ford CEO leaves. #mrs09
about 20 hours ago from TwitterBerry

Of course, I was then compelled to ask:
Peter Himler But are you followers transferable?
about 18 hours ago from Power Twitter

…to which he replied:

ScottMonty @peterhimler @daveyarmon When we’re effectively leveraging @Ford @FordDriveGreen @FordCustService @FordMustang @FordFiesta, etc. they are.
about 18 hours ago from web in reply to PeterHimler

OK I can buy that, but I still think there’s something to having a real name fronting that Twitter feed.

That evening, my Digital Dumbo friend @KMaverick and I co-hosted a Tweet-up at a conveniently located and named SocialBar | NY. Stopping by were @LeeOdden, @briansolis, @katiepaine, @tiffanypr, @cvvalencia, @KDPaine, @davearmon, @ivylee, @stacymgreen, @albertmaruggi, @howardgr, @Summer2, @Josh_Sternberg, @TCHayes, @Lisa Cruz, @LisaRedShoesPR, @webmetricsguru, @dfriez, @CatherinVentura, @jblhcomms, as well as Keith Little, Greg Radner, Brian August, Devin Brown, and too many others to remember.