Archive for October 10th, 2009

Let the debate with Peter Shankman continue

October 10, 2009

I want to thank Peter for responding to my comments about his presentation in Houston. The complete response is in the comment after my post which was critical of him. In the interest of clarification and debate, I’m posting those comments here along with my additional comments, corrections, disagreements and apologies. (Peter’s comments are in italic, mine are not)

A few points:

I’ll definitely speak slower in the future – It would seem that at the speed I’m speaking, you’re missing several points I tried to make. Gonna go through them really fast. (Actually, I suppose I’ll go through them really slow – to make sure you get them.)

:) Peter, I think you’d be doing yourself and your audience a favor by speaking a little slower. You have some excellent points to make and your audience will benefit by hearing them more clearly. It really won’t make you less entertaining. And yes, I got the dig at me, but that’s OK, I understand I ticked you off a bit.

I never said “tweet a thousand times,” (I said the opposite, to make sure you tweet interesting and valuable-to-your-audience information)

Actually, you asked the audience who was tweeting and when about two or three to my right and your left raised your hand you said quite clearly that obviously the rest of us didn’t give a damn (I think you said that) about our brand. That’s what I was referring to.

nor did I say “you have to have 15,000 friends,”

You are right, you didn’t say that. but you made quite a point out of having 15,000 fans on your Facebook and strongly advised that we follow your lead in contacting those personally and regularly, in your case through about 30-40 personal birthday greetings a day. I think it is quite admirable and is similar to what the first George Bush did and it helped get him in the White House. It’s just not everyone has the same goals and there are useful things you can do with social media other than this.

(I said the opposite, be relevant to your audience, no matter what the size)

Your point about relevance is one of the most important you make and I emphasized that in both my presentations after yours. Like I said in my post, I agree with a lot of things you say. But this point about relevance is not the opposite of the point you were making about using social media to build your brand or make all the connections you recommend.

nor did I suggest that I believe Governor Sanford did the right thing (I said the opposite, he had several opportunities to STOP talking and didn’t take any of them) nor did I say that if you don’t do what I do you have no clue as to what social media is about (I chose to tell you how I created a million dollar business using certain tools and how I chose to use them.) In fact, you seem to take everything I said, and post exactly the opposite of the point I was trying to make.

I was on my way out to the bathroom when I heard your comment about Gov. Sanford and it was right after you said that David Letterman would benefit from this because, and I’m trying to be as close to what you said as possible, no one in New York would care one bit about his affairs with his office staff, nor do people expect any different than people like David or the Governor would have affairs and be unfaithful. So, if you said he did the wrong thing in talking about it, I missed that part completely and apologize for any misimpression I may have left about that. However, what I was referring to was your view that no one really cares about the promiscuity, broken promises, and lack of trustworthiness exhibited by these gentlemen–not to mention the likely scenario of sexual harassment. While David’s ratings have soared, I’ve also seen quite a number of comments on the NYT’s articles about this that indicate that there is at least a significant minority like me who found his, and Gov. Sanford’s behavior “creepy” and our interest and respect for these men cannot help but be affected by this.

My favorite part is how you feel the need to confirm that you’re not bitter. (The lady doth protests too much?)

It was my attempt to be lighthearted, Peter. Actually, I don’t envy you one bit. I have to travel way too much as it is and the last thing I would want is to spend the kind of time you do on an airplane and navigating around all these different cities. But then, we’re in different spaces, aren’t we. I love my time at home with my wife of 36 years and want to spend as much precious time as I can with my grown kids, their spouses and our seven beautiful grandkids.

I said that if you post interesting comments when you hear them from a speaker, perhaps your audience will think them interesting as well, and choose to pay attention to you.

I also suggested that we have a network, the majority of which that we, for whatever reason, almost always choose to ignore. I choose to pay attention to them by wishing them a happy birthday on their special day, or emailing them when I find interesting bits of information, or something else relevant to them. Quite frankly, I believe that concept to be beneficial to them, as opposed to your belief of what, simply ignoring them? Perhaps you’re not a “world-class connector” for that very reason? (Additionally, I don’t recall calling myself that – the term was “world-wide” connector. Means I have colleagues in lots of places on the planet.)

I didn’t mean to suggest that you used that term–it was my term for you, you are a world-champion connector and I admire that, and I most certainly am not. Nor do I want to be. And you are right, your connecting them is beneficial to them so please don’t stop. You were also brilliant in applying your passion for connecting people into a system, HARO, that allows you to do that with even much greater power.

Next: I’m not sure where you got the premise that I supported Governor Sanford: In fact, the comments I made said this: “Governor Sanford was incredibly stupid not to be quiet – he was given an opportunity to get the heat taken off him by the death of a celebrity musician, yet he still chose to talk. In his situation, he needed to shut up, he chose not to and it hurt him.” If you got that I supported him out of that, there’s definitely a disconnect there.

Re: David Letterman: I said that through honesty and transparency, the audience and advertisers will forgive him: And I was right:

No doubt there was a surge in ratings and it may even stay that way. But I do think that I am not the only one who looks at him a little differently, as I look at Gov. Sanford a little differently. Do you disagree that the Governor’s behavior, and not just his way of talking about, has likely eliminated him from presidential contention? These things have an impact on reputations–but the impact is based more on the values of the audience. And your debate here provides such a great example of that. I’ve been trying to convince people in my audiences that to build trust you have to do two things: you have to take the right actions (and right is defined by others who evaluate you, not you) and you have to communicate well. David’s situation provides a great example of what I talk about. He communicated very very well. And to some, such as yourself, there was absolutely nothing wrong, creepy or unexpected about his actions or behavior. To me, and many others I have talked to like me, what he did was wrong, probably illegal, and creepy. As a result my perception of him has changed.

My analysis of social media and where I think it’s going was 99% of my entire talk – So it would seem that the parts with which you disagree revolve around my examples of how we’re getting there – essentially, you’re saying that you don’t find me funny. And hey, that’s totally cool – not everyone does. Fortunately, more than enough people do so as to continue inviting me to keynote their conferences, and countless people followed-up with me after my Houston presentation saying that my talk was spot-on.

Actually I find you quite entertaining. Perhaps your content is 99% analysis of social media, but I must tell you that to me and a number of others I talked to after your presentation, it is hard to escape the sense that you view social media primarily as a personal dating device. So many of your examples from your life, from social media, and from the extended interaction with the two young women in the audience communicates a message–inadvertent perhaps–that your primary interest in life and in social media is in finding your next conquest. It plays well I am certain with some audiences. But what troubles me is the many valuable things you have to say tend to get lost in that overarching message that keeps coming through. Be honest with yourself about this. If you dare, ask some other people that care about you and who listen to your presentations and see if at least part of what I am saying isn’t true. I just don’t really like the idea of all those impressionable young PR professionals sitting in the audience getting the idea that the primary use and value of social media as taught by one its rockstars is to be found in this direction. Just my input, take for it what it’s worth to you.

Perhaps we simply have to make sure you get to give your presentation before my keynote next time, huh?

Actually, I’m quite content with the current arrangement Peter. Looking forward to seeing you at an upcoming conference.

All the best, Gerald,


And all the best to you and everyone at HARO, Peter.