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March 19, 2015
'WhatTheyThink?' – Where, Who Are You?
 
We’re posting this for two contrasting reasons – interest and annoyance. One makes for good PR, the other doesn’t. WhatTheyThink.com isn’t the only organization we’ve come across with such a dichotomy. It’s almost as though once you’re on the web, nobody cares where you’re actually located or who you are. Not so.

First, the good stuff: A WhatTheyThink? (the question mark is apparently part of their name) blogger bylined as Dr. Joe Webb has a post reporting that PR “employment boomed from January 2014 to January 2015, up +9.2%, an increase of +5,000 workers.” More to the point is this timely description of PR’s continuing evolution:

“Where PR was, in an overly simplistic sense, the systematic process of getting the attention of editors and writers and broadcasters (sometimes called “begging”), it has become a more proactive discipline, with a higher profile, and considerably more respect. PR professionals have been in the middle of the strategy and execution of social media, search engine optimization, content marketing, blogging, Tweeting, and numerous other direct-to-market methods.”

There’s accompanying detail on these evolutionary trends, but the question is: Who's describing them? Where, with some sense of place, are they occurring? That’s because nowhere that we could readily find does WhatTheyThink.com identify where it’s located, not even under “Contact Us.” Again, this isn’t the only organization we’ve found posting in geographic incognito – not by any means. Nor does it do a good job of identifying itself clearly – it’s apparently some kind of paid professional social network.

A cardinal principle of good PR is that you don’t leave people guessing, and thereby frustrated, over who you are and where you’re located. Again, just because the web is increasingly omnipresent doesn’t mean that location and tangible identity don’t matter. They do, and should be indicated to avoid visitor frustration.


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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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