The Death of Public Relations as We Know It

Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, created quite a stir this week by announcing he will be blocking the e-mail address of anyone who sends him any non-relevant releases and messages. He added oil to the fire by publishing on his blog the e-mail addresses of more than 100 people who did that in the last 30 days (he says he receives 300 e-mails a day). To make himself clearly understood, he added “So fair warning: I only want two kinds of email: those from people I know, and those from people who have taken the time to find out what I’m interested in and composed a note meant to appeal to that (I love those emails; indeed, that’s why my email address is public).”

David Meerman Scott, a well-known online marketing strategist and writer, says he gets “several hundred unsolicited press releases and PR pitches every week. Well over 99% of them are not targeted to me, instead they are sent to me because I am on various PR people’s lists because of this blog, because of my books, and because I am a contributing editor to EContent Magazine and have written for a bunch of other publications. I’m getting the identical piece of spam email as hundreds of other poor journalists.”. He adds “most PR people are spammers”


Flickr photo by Freezelight.

At the same time, Google pre-launches its OpenSocial initiative via influential bloggers who were involved in the project. New-York VC Fred Wilson says: “Google’s launch of open social is interesting. They pre-launched it in the blogs and are getting top bloggers who are also their partners, like Marc Andreessen, to do some of the work for them. It’s smart. Marc’s company Ning is one of the leading partners for open social and I think Ning will benefit greatly from it. So he’s going to promote it because of pure self interest. Which is fine, in fact it’s preferable in my book.”

What it means: you have in this blog post two extreme examples of what to do and what not to do PR-wise. Will Chris Anderson’s reaction create a snowball effect? This could be the beginning of something very ugly which would lead to a major reform of how online PR works. At the same time, this seems like a great business opportunity to build an online marketplace to properly match releases/news with appropriate editors/journalists/bloggers. Anyone interested?

Google is Spearheading the Launch of an Open Social Web API

Following this blog post yesterday about my speculation that Google is building a mobile development platform, the whole blogosphere announced this morning that Google is leading an initiative called OpenSocial that will see the launch an open social web API. This new API will allow social networks and application developers to work together using a set of standardized instructions. Partners currently include Google’s Orkut, LinkedIn, Hi5, Friendster,, Oracle, iLike, Flixster, RockYou, and Slide.

Opening the Social Graph Barcamp

Flickr photo by magerleagues.

As Marc Andreessen said this morning on his blog,

This is the exact same concept as the Facebook platform, with two huge differences:

  • With the Facebook platform, only Facebook itself can be a “container” — “apps” can only run within Facebook itself. In contrast, with Open Social, any social network can be an Open Social container and allow Open Social apps to run within it.
  • With the Facebook platform, app developers build to Facebook-proprietary languages and APIs such as FBML (Facebook Markup Language) and FQL (Facebook Query Language) — those languages and APIs don’t work anywhere other than Facebook — and then the apps can only run within Facebook. In contrast, with Open Social, app developers can build to standard HTML and Javascript, and their apps can then run in any Open Social container.

TechCrunch explains in more details:

OpenSocial is a set of three common APIs, defined by Google with input from partners, that allow developers to access core functions and information at social networks:

  • Profile Information (user data)
  • Friends Information (social graph)
  • Activities (things that happen, News Feed type stuff)

Hosts agree to accept the API calls and return appropriate data. Google won’t try to provide universal API coverage for special use cases, instead focusing on the most common uses. Specialized functions/data can be accessed from the hosts directly via their own APIs.

What it means: this is a major announcement, maybe the biggest announcement of the year. Standardizing the social web will go a long way towards the explosion of social as a key element of the Web operating system and one more step towards the web becoming a gigantic word of mouth machine. You’ll want to embrace these standards.

Update: According to AlleyInsider, MySpace will announce today that they join the OpenSocial “alliance”

Update2: Techcrunch reports that blog software publisher SixApart is also joining. Bebo also.