« Thoughts on the Mighty Mouse | Main | Pump-and-dump spam »

PR Hype

I'm the grammar geek in the family, so when I was asked to help someone with a paper, it was usually to proofread it. But a few times I was asked to help write a press release. My stock advice was to write it as if it were a paper's own news story, inverted pyramid structure and all. If you're lucky, some reporter will pick up on it and will write something of their own.

If you're really lucky, they'll just lightly reword it and run it as is. But that's unlikely. Usually only rags with too many column-inches to fill will do something that stupid.

Like the Metro newspaper I got this morning.

Flipping through the back, I came across a long headline on page 22: “What comes up when you search your name on the Web?” The article was one big gushing heap of praise for some new internet company, obviously swiped from a press release the paper received.

Is it your high school soccer photo or the one article you wrote for your college newspaper?

Either way, it's probably not a good representation for a prospective employer. And face it, in this day and age, everyone is Googling everyone.

Boston-based start-up Ziggs.com has launched a site that helps people control their Web image.

OK, so now you have a “web image” that you need to control. Marketing 101: Explain to people how they have a need that no one realized that they had before, and show how your product fills that gap. Bonus points for crafting the niche so well that nothing else can fit.

And who writes like this? “And face it...” A little less caffeine for the author.

The brainchild of Tim DeMello, a veteran of Internet start-ups

Not gonna touch that one. Too easy.

DeMello boasts about the accuracy of the information because all of the profiles are managed solely by the person who created it, unlike rival Web sites.

Things scale well when you have people do the work for you. And a nice jab at its nameless competitors.

Creating the profile is free

Wait for the “but”...

and can be accessed on the Ziggs Web site by anyone—for free.

[gasp!] Web pages that don't charge their viewers to see them? What will they think of next?

For $50 a year, Ziggs assures users that their profile is the first link to pop up when people search their name on Google, Yahoo, or any other search engine.

This is where it gets creepy. First, the assurance that everyone's profile will show up as the first entry on every search engine on the planet breaks down as soon as you sign up more than one person with the same name. Secondly, how is this feat achieved? It's unlikely that a site of profiles is going to be linked to by lots of other sites, but that is how high rank is achieved. The only magic that could make high search engine rank happen is evil, spammy magic, and I don't like it.

DeMello, who is no stranger to the world of Internet start-ups (he launched grocer Streamline.com)

Don't bother going to streamline.com as it's now a credit card processor. Inc.com looks back to find DeMello's streamline.com “defunct due to its poorly conceived e-commerce model”.

believes Ziggs has staying power because the Web is now the go to place for people looking to get dirt on others.

I don't know whether to blame the press release or the reporter. Go-to really ought to be hyphenated there. And yes, the web is the place to find out about people, but building a white pages isn't much of a plan.

And then an ending quote from DeMello.

“We are really trying to build this platform and have it be the biggest in the world for professionals,” said DeMello.

A PR lackey couldn't have said it better.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Post a comment