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    NevOn is the archive weblog of Neville Hobson, a British business communicator based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, a record of commentary and conversations from December 2002 until 22 February 2006. This site is no longer updated - please visit www.nevillehobson.com.
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« The Hobson and Holtz Report - Podcast #41: June 13, 2005 | Main | Too much of a good thing »

14 June 2005


Niall Cook

I can't help agreeing with you, Neville (although I'll probably get accused of being nasty about competitors).

The whole reason Hill & Knowlton hasn't jumped on this particular bandwagon is that - in the words of the Grolsch copywriter - we're just not ready yet (even though we are actually already advising clients as a natural extension of our ten year online communications expertise).

I think it is critical to get your own house in order before you can expect to be taken seriously. Hence why we publsihed our blogging guidelines (thanks for the mention in FIR), are setting up our own blogs, and are getting RSS feeds sorted out.

The only thing I would say in response to your thoughts is the criticism about it being a separate service. If it is (and I'm not sure that is the case) then that's not necessarily a bad thing.

In my experience, it's about getting the right balance. You need specialists who really understand the medium and can focus on delivering what clients need, but also interface with other communications disciplines to ensure it doesn't just happen in a vacuum. For that reason, I think the issue is not whether the people are "integrated", but whether they have the *ability* to integrate what they do with other media.

Josh Hallett

The smart thing would be to at least announce your blog the same time you announce your 'blog services'. Yes it would be lame to have the first post of your blog be a press release about your blogging services, but it would be a start.

It would be like me saying I offer 'German PR Consulting' Do I speak German? No. Do I live in Germany? No. Have I ever been to Germany? No. ..... Are you ready to have me handle your German PR? No.


I agree. In this day, especially given the ability of bloggers to separate the chafe from the wheat, I would never even think about starting such a service without implementing it myself. Usually, you are your own best and most difficult client.

If they had spent any time tracking trends in blogging, podcasts, and other tools, they would at least be aware of this since I have read many such posts myself. Companies like this need to learn how to track blogs and other online tools before they start offering those services. I'm afraid they might do a disservice to any client they do get. They seem to be wanting to jump on a bandwagon without being sure of where it is headed.

Neville Hobson

Good comments, Neil.

Re Ketchum's new service as being a separate offering, I'm not sure that's the case either. It certainly gives me the impression, though, that it is and there's nothing I could find on their website to indicate whether it is, or not.

I agree with you on the balance point. Yet what we're talking about here are communication channels and tools. The ways and means, not the end itself. So isn't having a specialty practice or offering on new media channels not much different to setting up a specialty service on, say, writing press releases? Or designing websites?

For a PR agency, surely the true value proposition (from both the agency's and client's perspective) is about offering a new service like this that enhances and complements existing PR services? So the focus is on the communication itself, not the means to communicate.

In my view, that's also one of the ways in which a PR agency will differentiate itself.

Think back 10 years to when everyone discovered websites. Before you knew it, there were web consultants everywhere. All had one thing in common: they could build websites. One thing un-common, and which many PR agencies had: knowledge and experience in communication as well.

A simple view, but if I were a client, I'd want communication skills and experience first and foremost.

Josh, if they'd started a blog and the only post was the press release, it would at least give them a tad more credibility than they have right now.

Good points, Britt, especially on trends tracking. I think that's a crucial service. Not only the tracking, or measurement, but also interpreting what it means in the context of a client's PR needs.

Jackie Danicki

I don't remember Ketchum handling their own recent PR problems (Armstrong Williams, anyone?) particularly well, especially in the blogosphere. They seemed to take the attitude that as long as they weren't taking part in the conversation, the conversation wasn't happening. I would bet every penny I've got that they haven't the first clue about blogging.

david parmet

Neville - I agree ... it would have impressed me if the announcement were the first entry of the blog and they set up enough tags for it to be noticed. Even if that were the only entry.

The fact that nothing has changed on the Ketchum website - no indication of a blog or section on the new practice (if it is a new practice) is a dead give-away that this is nothing new, move along folks.

Neville Hobson

Jackie, I wondered if anyone might mention that little matter. It will haunt Ketchum.

David, I looked just now on the Ketchum website - and there is now a page about their new offering. And I've just come across a blog that is definitely a Ketchum blog: http://www.ketchumideas.com/

Shel and I talked about Ketchum and PR blogosphere reaction in today's edition of the Hobson & Holtz Report podcast:


Usher Lieberman

Missed opportunity! The Q&A you referenced was an ideal spot for a "comments" section. It isn't there because of one or a combination of reasons:
1) they're afraid of what might happen (criticism seen in public)
2) they don't know to filter comments
3) they didn't know you could filter comments
4) they plain don't understand the value of comments
5) they view what they're doing as one way communications where they and their clients feed information to an audience of bloggers

I too wish them well. But, any of the above comments disqualifies them as expert advisors on how to integrate blogs into a corporate strategy. They have to understand the technology, they have to understand how to promote internal and client blogs, and they have to know how to add value to the online dialogues of interest to them and clients.


Very solid, these things are almost too basic to notice untill someone points them out- great observations!

Dan York

Interesting to notice that on http://www.ketchumideas.com/ the following facts:

1. There is no easy way to move between the articles. You have to go to the main page and then click on a calendar day to move to that article. Once you are in that article I could not find any way to move to the next article.

2. Notice that if you move your mouse on the calendar over days in the future, you can see what is going to be posted on that particular day. For instance, next Thursday, the 23rd, is "That Most Personal of Media: Podcasting".

So it's not so much a blog as a slow, timed release of articles.

Neville Hobson

That KetchumIdeas site is just a bit of PR fluff, in my view, dressed up as a 'thought leadership' resource. Puh-lease! It's a not even a blog.

Talk about a dissection! I wonder of Ketchum is noticing what's being discussed in the blogosphere for nearly a week now. If not, then so much for at least the part of their new service that talks about their having a monitoring capability.

Constantin has today posted a terrific dissection of their offering and PR blogger opinion. Recommended reading.


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