Dear Ketchum, welcome to the blogosphere.

Poor Ketchum.

Poor Ketchum...When it launched the Personalized Media service, Ketchum had some good ingredients for preparing a smooth entry in blogland: a (sort of) blog (and RSS feeds, by default), a podcast (well, almost), and a collaboration with a PR blogger. But it just didn’t managed to put all these elements together, which kinda sucks when you’re such a big PR firm, and didn’t managed to listen to those who talked about the launch and change what didn’t work, which definitely sucks in the blogosphere (no conversation = bad, bad, bad in my Cluetrain book).

I don’t think that blogs are something really new for the Ketchum guys. After all, they were planning to launch a corporate blog about three years ago, as recorded in the press release announcing the eKetchum website and dated May 31, 2002:

Over the coming weeks and months, additional features will be incorporated into the new Web site. Soon, the site will include a group “Blog” where eKetchum team experts will share insight and commentary on a variety of subjects with the digital world. “We’ve been fortunate to assemble a team here at eKetchum of extremely bright, talented and insightful people. Blogs are the latest Web phenomenon, enabling anyone with a computer to become their own editorial page or niche publication. The eKetchum Blog will create awareness in our group and help position our team members as thought leaders on a variety of subjects,” says Adam Brown.

Well, the eKetchum blog didn’t happen. (Ditto for the thought leadership.) Probably it wasn’t meant to be.

But I would think that people involved in the Personalized Media service are, actually, reading weblogs, and that they learned something from it. So they were aware that the rule to live by when such a big elephant (read: Ketchum) enters the china shop (read: the blogosphere) is, simply, “walk the talk“.

That means, dear Ketchum, that if you want to advise clients about blogging, RSS, and podcasting, you should show that you know what you’re talking about. You can do that by having senior executives blogging for some time before trumpeting your blogging consultancy; that’s what Edelman’s Richard Edelman and Christopher Hannegan are doing. The same goes for Hill & Knowlton’s Joël Céré and Niall Cook. Or you could launch a blogging community first. You can let the results of your expertise speak for you before formally launching a blogging practice and a corporate blog; that’s what Hass MS&L did. But you can’t just issue a press release about it, and hope for a cheerful “Welcome to the blogosphere!!!“.

And if you publish a press release about your brand new service, why not include the URL, i.e., for the page where those nasty bloggers can find more about it? No, it’s not enough that the service you just announced can be found in a drop-down menu on your website, or that the URL was (later? – I’m not sure) included in the press release posted on your website.

You knew that people will post furiously asking, “where’s the @$!#* blog?“, “where’s the @$!#* RSS feed“? Actually, bloggers were calm and polite, but the questions popped up, nonetheless. Why not showing them that, in fact, you do have a blog, or at least something that can become a blog? Why letting someone else to bring this news?

And if you have a weblog, what about adding a link to its RSS feed? Why not enable comments, so you can start to practice the “blogosphere relations” that you preach in your offer? Comments by e-mail? That’s what you think this is about?

It’s great that you have a downloadable show, but purists will tell you that it’s not a podcast yet, because the MP3 file is not delivered automatically via RSS. WordPress has support for podcasts; please use it, if you want to be on the same page with the cool guys.

The same goes for archives. The rollovers are really cute, but please add a good ol’ archive. It’s much more useful.

Also, I found in a press release (written in German) that your new practice -or at least its German side- will benefit for the collaboration with our esteemed colleague and PR blogger Klaus Eck, who’s blogging at Wasn’t that worth mentioning also in the English press release? Wasn’t that newsworthy for our small, but active PR blogosphere? Where you afraid that you’ll get some credit for actually working with a blogger? Well, too bad.

Now, let’s see how your blog monitoring service is working. I’m a little bit concerned about it, because nobody from Ketchum bothered yet to leave a comment on the blogs that posted about your service. But look, you still have time until Monday to get aboard the Cluetrain and learn that building relationships with bloggers is done by having conversations with them, not by ignoring them.

Please let me finish with a quotation:

Understanding and embracing today’s online media can serve both as an early-warning system for buzz about an organization and a way for that organization to lead the conversation in a leadership role.

Well, almost. You’ve been early-warned lately. Now let’s see what’s up with that leadership role. (Hint: you can’t lead the conversation if you don’t participate.)


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  3. What happened to the San Francisco Ketchum Food group? I noticed than Andrea Barrish does not work there anymore. Any Ideas what’s going on over there?

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  5. Lots of good advice here, and I hope my colleagues at Ketchum will listen, learn and engage.

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  9. I’ve been reading the responses to Constantin’s post on the 18th and wanted to take this opportunity to respond. I apologize for my delay in responding, but I have been in the process of moving from Atlanta to Pittsburgh over the past weeks (something you can read about on my personal blog at

    First, let me introduce myself. I’m Adam Brown and I am Director of eKetchum, Ketchum’s digital media development group. While I have been managing eKetchum for five years, I’m also taking the lead in managing several of Ketchum’s new Ketchum Personalized Media service offerings, including our blog services. The blogosphere is something that I have been passionate about since I started personally blogging in 2002, and it’s refreshing to see so many PR professionals embracing the medium. (If only we’d all in PR had this same passion about the Web seven or eight years ago – Web sites may have been very different today.)

    Several of you have commented that Ketchum does not have an external blog – yet. That is true. Like most of you in our industry, the last thing we want to do is do a “blog for blogs sake.” Blogs are powerful two-way conversation tools. They’re one of the most powerful dialogue (rather than monologue) tools that I have seen in my eleven years in the Internet business. But they’re not appropriate for every type of communication or application.

    What Ketchum has been doing is using our other online communication venues like, and a temporary, informational site for our Ketchum Chicago office at to speak directly to our important audiences. (Aside: Some folks in the blogosphere incorrectly assumed that was a blog, and on top of that a blog for the Ketchum Personalized Media group. It’s not a blog at all – there has to be dialogue to truly be a blog, and this site does not have any commenting features.)

    Ketchum is currently using blogs internally for Ketchum account team and agency communication, most notably with our Media Strategy Group. And we’re working with several of our Ketchum clients on the development of blogs for both internal and external communication.

    I look forward to conversing with all of you here in the PR blogosphere. It’s a very exciting time for our industry, and we have an amazing opportunity as PR professionals to take advantage of these new tools. But we must strive to use these new tools appropriately, effectively and ethically if we are all to succeed.

    Thanks for your time,


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