We report news every day. Our nature is to inform and to promote discussion here at Everything PR News. Having our roots in the public relations and social media sectors too, we also have to, from time to time, have to call “foul” when otherwise superior performance turns into pure “spin.” Such is the case with news from Beckerman PR this week. Opening a Washington office is one thing, incongruent assertions are another.
Beckerman is a leading PR firm in New Jersey, a respected PR firm, even among its peers. Established in 1989, their corporate website professes a melding of the minds between old school public relations expertise and the new social media dogma so many are now flocking to. In Beckerman’s case though, a little begrudgingly and timidly if one looks at the big picture. Sorry to say, Beckerman’s engagement is several million parsecs behind even the most stoic hard-liners like APCO Worldwide and others. Why? Maybe they heard an office rumor?
Let’s tale a look at some corporate PR dogma that is at best confusing. Beckerman, like many traditional PR firms entering the digital space, takes what we might call “baby steps” (a kind term) toward actual social media and networking. An indication of this also resides (as with many others) in the design, function, and symbolism of their website. The first warning sign for any user – the time sucking flash intro from which there is no escape. Any modern developer would have already addressed this issue.
Here are some statements by Beckerman with contravening statements to the contrary.
- According to Beckerman’s landing page the agency was “spawned” by the emergence of new media? For one thing, the term “spawned” is not exactly indicative of cutting edge professionalism. Secondly, new media came along nearly two decades after Beckerman emerged from being spawned out of the primordial ooze in 1989?
- Beckerman’s landing also refers to the ideas and innovations their communicators understand as somehow “lurking” beneath the surface of the conversation? Again, “lurking” is not exactly a positive tag. One thinks of lurking as at best ominous.
- Beckerman’s differentiators include their “communicators'” experience in the fields of; law, government, public relations and journalism? How does this differentiate them from any other public relations firm, particularly in Washington?
- A Twitter button does not a social media mogul make – Beckerman’s landing invites the 4 visitors who go there to join them on Twitter. So far Beckerman has 256 followers, no doubt powerfully connected social networkers.
- According to Beckerman’s press release about the Washington office, the company has made several acquisitions, in particular in the social media sphere, which will broaden its platform? I hope they don’t mean acquiring a Twitter account.
- The “Best of Beckerman” – This section of the corporate website contains case studies. The first of these basically deal with media outreach. The question is, with a Twitter account, no blog, and no other social media engagement, exactly how does Beckerman even consider themselves in the digital landscape?
As you can easily see with a short visit to Beckerman’s website, like most traditional PR firms, the Internet must seem like a sort of joke. At least the corporate jargon is taking a step towards engagement I guess. Outside this, any potential client who visits their site today will have to wonder.
Just saying it is so does not fully cut it these days, unless you are a lobbyist I guess.
I get this image of some small fry walking into Michael Beckerman’s (left) office timidly arguing;
“Sire, this social media Internet thingy appears to be here to stay, should we take steps to interact?”
“Uh hum, uh, yes my boy, get that Korean fellow down in IT to spunk up our website.”
“What about Twitter sir?”
“I thought I told you not to use that type of language in my presence!”
In fairness, Beckerman PR and Keith Zakheim, president of Beckerman did acquire Wise PR of New York back in September of last year, but that agency’s expertise in the digital realm is nowhere evident for the core business online.
With a little tongue in cheek being espoused here, I must admit most agencies do exactly the same thing when expanding into digital media. We have harped on this many times. My best advice for Beckerman, or any firm, is not to “pitch” themselves as 21st Century media relations until they can “walk the walk.”
A better idea would be to elicit some genuine feeback, which is often free, and use some resources beyond a mediocre text edit on a website that breaks many of the fundamental rules of today’s technology. Free advice from an observer down in the trenches of social media.