Buzz for Buzz’s Sake

July 10, 2009 at 6:52 am Leave a comment

Brooke Hammerling,Ken Friedman,Paula FroelichThe public relations industry is abuzz about a New York Times article about buzz, namely Silicon Valley PR professionals’ focus on social media and subordination of traditional media. The article centers on Brooke Hammerling, founder of Brew Media Relations, a well-connected, well-known practitioner who controls the information flow for her tech accounts like a talent agent rationing access to A-list clients.

The Hollywood parallels are rife. Ms. Hammerling is portrayed as a human Rolodex, dropping names and throwing bicoastal birthday parties for herself. Like the biggest agents, she has become a luminary in her own right. Having grown up in the entertainment industry and labored as a screenwriter in my younger days, I saw the hype and deal-making process. Breathless reports of movies-in-the-works in the trade papers. Lots of word-of-mouth. Some of the projects went into development. A few were shot and released. Fewer still made a profit.

The Silicon Valley start-ups described in the article are reminiscent of the movies that never get made or break even. The PR promoting these ventures recalls the Hollywood echo chamber. This last parallel is unfortunate and in some ways unfair. Brooke Hammerling has command of social media, today’s frontier of public relations and communications. She knows that marketing metrics have moved from ad impressions and circulation numbers to tweets and hits. However, she cut her teeth during Web 1.0 and had to survive the dotcom bust. With today’s biggest Web rages–Twitter, Facebook and YouTube–doing everything but making a profit, how long before the next day of reckoning? Is Ms. Hammerling counting down in her private moments?

The New York Times article presents substance and triviality, hard work and fun-and-games. Proponents and skeptics of PR and social media will both find ammunition in it. In the end, Hollywood and Silicon Valley have a lot in common. The next blockbuster is always just around the corner. So is Web 3.0. I can hear the buzz now.


Entry filed under: Public Relations, Social Media. Tags: , , , , .

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