Beware of web 2.0 people bearing printouts

Perhaps you've been following Tangyslice's series on Selecting a Web 2.0 PR Agency. Part one is here. [update: part III just published!] Upon return from a recent trip to London, Tangy brought me a gag gift, a 147-page, glossy, perfect bound guide to Facebook. The absurdity of a paper book printed to teach you about Facebook* reminded me of something that happened during the Web 2.0 PR search.

The ultimate success of PR firms in our search was inversely proportional to the amount of paper they brought to the pitch. Those with plastic comb-bound presentations were at an immediate disadvantage. I felt bad waiting until they left the office to zip out the plastic combs and recycle the presentations. I wonder if the plastic covers are recyclable too?

Similarly, I mocked Tangy for putting on dress slacks for the pitch meetings while I made sure I was wearing jeans and a black shirt, and shined up my web 2.0 haircut**. None of the candidate agencies matched my 'do, but one did match my outfit. It's easy (and fun) to make fun of these things, but when your RFP says more or less, "we want to rule the world via social media" you are looking for a certain measure of out-of-the-boxiness, aren't you?

Thirdly, and at least for now, finally, I have to point out that given the opportunity, only a couple of our pitching firms seized the marker and went to the whiteboard to illustrate their ideas. Visual thinking, especially on the fly, is a definite turn-on to firms seeking innovative PR.

Tune in next time when I reveal at least one thing that really annoys PR firms when you invite them in to pitch.

Oh, and in case you're out there googling yourselves, the consideration set was:


* I don't mean to say, by the way, that Facebook is so dead simple that it needs no documentation. I mean that if you aren't ready to jump in and learn from the online help and by experimenting, you're not going to do well with Facebook. That said, the book does at least attempt to answer some important questions about Facebook, notably, "Why Facebook?" (page 6) and "Why did the UK fall in love with Facebook?" (page 11, by "internet psychologist Graham Jones.")

** I hereby claim to be the originator of the term, "web 2.0 haircut" to mean a shaved head and a goatee or vandyke (soul patch does not qualify), usually in company of heavy-framed glasses. In the event that it should catch on, you read it here first. If not, somebody else thought of it.

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  1. [...] Last week, I posted a bit of my side of Tangyslice’s story of Firstgiving’s selection of a new PR firm, and promised to talk about the thing we did that caused the most trauma to the folks pitching us. It’s hardly unique to PR that the people who pitch you and sell you and win your business are not always the ones who actually deliver the service. [...]

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