Gawker on PR: Conquering All Media

October 16, 2007

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While my co-editor Joe and I were enjoying the party for mediabisto.com’s 10-year anniversary recently, Nick Denton, founder of Gawker Media was hosting a party for the launch of “The Gawker Guide to Conquering All Media” at his place in Soho. A few days prior to the release of the book, we thought it would be a good idea to get copy and find out if the snarky wisdom within applies to PR.

The book is mostly charts, lists, and line drawings–like America without the extreme rigor. There are bits of industry insight and pages that draw a chuckle, like grid on page 74 that deconstructs the gossip columnists. The From the Desk of Nick Denton letter about the sale of his soul to the Devil is hilarious.

However, the book doesn’t feel insidery like Slab Rat, or How to Lose Friends and Alienate People till the chapters on magazines and the Internet. It also suffers from what I call the “20 page rule”. The better stuff should be up front. At a scant 173 pages, 24 is too many to waste. The Gawker Guide will make a nice goodie bag stuffer for advertiser schmoozes perhaps.

As of this morning, Gawker sits 23th on the Technorati 100, just below ThinkProgress and above Crooks & Liars. Though not at the top like Gizmodo, it’s Denton’s New York-centric anchor.


Choire Sicha, returned to the site from the New York Observer in January. Having pitched him a bit there, I thought a “5 Questions with” based on the book would make f a fun post. I didn’t anticipate getting back seven well thought-out paragraphs on why he likes PR people, why he thinks we should have more balls, why we shouldn’t waste time lunching at Michael’s and his on thoughts on J.J. Hunsecker (the book teaches it’s good to drop names with no explanation).

What follows (in multiple parts) reads like a psychoanalysis of PR, with no 12-step program, rather what we can do to better embrace our Ids.

Sicha’s responses are even more interesting now that I’ve read through the New York “Everybody Sucks” opus on the Denton blempire (blog+empire). I believe his answers provide more insight in to what makes Gawker–or at least Sicha–tick than the book itself.

His answers also provide a humorous counterpoint to many of our fellow bloggers and their constant calls for ethics in the web2.0 era (see links to WOMMA). Stay tuned for part on–how PR people can conquer all media.

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