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« Inbound marketing: making great content work for you | Main | Avoiding social media baptisms of fire: if nothing else, just listen. Pretty please. »

Monday, July 06, 2009


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Steve Seager

Hi Beth,

I really appreciate you taking the time to chat back. As I mentioned on your own blog, i always enjoy reading your posts - loads of great and challenging thoughts!

The only reason why social is in quotes is because I'm not quite sure whether you speak solely from a 'social' perspective or not. I tend to use those same quotes in 'social' quote often. Check my last post on inbound marketing.

If you were referring to just a by-lined article, then my apologies. I misinterpreted your post, as others may have done judging by the responses. Then again, I don't think you would have mentioned the guillotine unless you knew you were being provocative ;)

I 100% agree misrepresentation is an absolute no-no. There's no question about that. It's simply unethical. Accountability? I also 100% agree with you.

As for 'authentic', bearing in mind what I just noted about misrepresentation and accountability, I still don't agree I'm afraid. I would prefer to use the dictionary definitions of: '"that can be believed or accepted", "conforming to fact and therefore worthy of belief", "conforming to fact and therefore worthy of trust, reliance, or belief".

I think any pr manages this, then it's a job well done!

Thanks again for taking the time out (I honestly don't know how you manage it all!)


Beth Harte

Steve, first, thanks for saying that I am a "pretty good 'social' marketing and communications resource." I appreciate it. (Not sure why social is in quotes though...)

Second, those words are not mine, but the dictionary's and I can't take credit for them. (Authentic = not false or copied, but genuine and real.)

Third, I never referred to (or said) "...the fact that many articles, presentations, blogs, or twitter posts are not written by the people that claim to publish them, but written by pr agencies." I gave a specific example of a PR team writing a byline article and being the voice for the person who's name is slapped on the byline. (I think you just ghostwrote for me...)

Phew! Glad that I could clear up any discrepancies here.

As for speeches, most people know that any president or CEO -- government or organizational -- usually do not write their own words. But when a speech is given and the words pass the lips of the speaker they do become the words of the speaker, they ARE ethically held responsible for those words. Don't believe me? Check out Richard Johannesen’s book “Ethics in Human Communication or just watch the news and you'll hear a lot of "Obama said/promised, etc." He is indeed being held accountable and it would be unethical for him to say "I didn't know what I was saying...blame my speechwriter."

When it comes to PR 2.0 the constituents expand well beyond the media (and bloggers) to employees, investors, lobbyists, fans, friends, followers, folks just passing by, etc. and they known one-way push of PR messages. Anything a PR agency writes for a company is typically limited to messaging because they will never be close enough to be inside the heads of the employees of that company...nor will they (depending on the product or service) have the deep experience necessary to have real conversations with constituents. I don't know about you, but as a PR professional, I think it's a bit unethical, shady, misleading to talk to a constituency as if we were the VP of Marketing or CTO or HR manager when, clearly, we are not. I mean what would happen if we did that and then we met folks offline? Clearly they could tell the difference in tone, etc.

As for social media and authenticity, the key here is that people will know when someone isn't being authentic. Their tone, content and style will shift. Authenticity breeds trust, not the other way around. Not being authentic in social media is just asking for a ticking time bomb to go off...there are too many examples where situations have gone awry (Walmart is probably the best known).

Thanks for keeping the conversation going Steve!

Beth Harte
Community Manager, MarketingProfs

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