New York Times on the Changing Ways of Silicon Valley PR

Quick post to highlight this New York Times story, Spinning the Web: PR in Silicon Valley. The article starts with the story of a start-up first pondering, and then deciding not to pitch the big tech blogs like TechCrunch.


Instead, [publicist Brooke Hammerling] decides that she will “whisper in the ears” of Silicon Valley’s Who’s Who — the entrepreneurs behind tech’s hottest start-ups, including Jay Adelson, the chief executive of Digg; Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter; and Jason Calacanis, the founder of Mahalo.

Notably, none are journalists.

This is the new world of promoting start-ups in Silicon Valley, where the lines between journalists and everyone else are blurring and the number of followers a pundit has on Twitter is sometimes viewed as more important than old metrics like the circulation of a newspaper.

The article goes on to discuss what, in my opinion, are truly massive changes to the business of Silicon Valley PR over the past five years, driven by changes in the B2B trade press and the rise of social media.

While the article raises many good points, I think its over-reliance on Ms. Hammerling starts to make it feel — in an ironic twist of journalistic narcissism — like a puff piece about her: the journalist admiring the PR person instead of focusing on the changes in the business.

Over the years, her contact list swelled to the point that her stories now overflow with dropped names. There are the e-mail messages from Larry Ellison, the chief executive of Oracle, and the time she handled a client’s crisis from her BlackBerry while traveling to St. Barts to join the former Hollywood überagent Michael Ovitz and his family on his yacht. Or the time she was in her bikini at a Mexican resort, checking her e-mail at the hotel’s computer, when Ron Conway, a veteran tech investor, walked in.

Or the purportedly secret poker party she threw in her suite at a recent tech conference: “All my friends were there — Arianna was there, the Twitter boys were there,” …

“Arianna told me I was a great hostess, and I thought I was going to die,” she said

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