Shut Up, Mr. Scoble


I have never been a Robert Scoble fan, and this one sealed the deal.  I’m pissed. Big time.

In recent comments that he made on Blog Talk Radio that I discovered on “For Immediate Release,” Mr. Scoble went on to make a series of increasingly stupid comments, among them:

  • “PR is dead.  The way that PR is practiced is just..lame.”
  • “Most of PR has ‘sucked.’  If you think it’s not, just be a blogger for a little while. And watched the thousands of stupid-ass pitches flow through your screen.”
  • “Anybody who pitches you on email is stupid.  The chance that I am going to listen to anyone who pitches me email on frikkin’ email is one percent.”
  • [Someone] showed me a block of wood…that was better than the stupid-ass pitches I get in email.”
  • People who stand up for the PR industry, they just don’t get it.”

Public relations is:

  • lame
  • sucks
  • stupid-ass

OK.   You get my point. Listen to the audio and you will hear someone who, to me, sounds a) wildly inarticulate, b) whines like a Hollywood celebrity who didn’t get the right kind of mayo on his chicken salad, and c) has no problem using profanity to, in a blanket fashion, insult the livelihood of thousands and thousands of public relations practitioners.  Are there people who “don’t get it?”  Sure.  Do people make pitches that are of base and inappropriate?  Absolutely.  Are there public relations practitioners who pitch via email?  Sure – IF IT IS THE ONLY MEDIUM AVAILABLE TO THEM.

Mr. Scoble needs to realize that he is complaining about the very celebrity that he himself created.  You cannot have it both ways.

If you become an A-Lister and make a good living (while many of very good public relations people in this country are being laid off, by the way) it is beyond self-absorption to complain about “stupid-ass pitches” that you receive because of the very notoriety that you sought, built and benefit from.  You even mentioned that you get pitches from people who are panicked that their companies are going to go out of business – and call them “lame.”  There’s some compassion.

And as for your preferred method of “… having someone come over and have dinner with me and tell me that something is cool,” please feel free to do a post letting people know your address and I am sure that you will have no scarcity of folks coming over for dinner.  Or hire a social secretary who can make the appointments for you.

Final thought?

Mr. Scoble, stop whining.  Maybe you could switch places with a few of those public relations people  who “suck” and realize just how hard their jobs are – and how desperately they are clinging to them.




  1. I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said and, while I don’t normally have sympathy for folks like Robert who inaccurately portray the PR industry based on a small amount of exposure to it, let me say this: I feel sorry for the guy. He’s so consumed by his own “cewebrity” that he thinks he can just pop off on any subject and people will believe him. He has been exposed to a lot of the bad side of the PR industry — untrained noobs who have no grounding in strategy and maturity as relationship-builders — and for that he has a strong opinion. I don’t blame him.

    But I also know that some of Robert’s friends in the industry are, in fact, PR people. Good PR people. So he says some inflamatory type remarks on a blog radio show to stir up the pot. It’s part of being a blogger.

    I feel bad for him because he does have enough notoriety that he gets inundated with irrelevant PR pitches. I also feel sorry for him because he’s so far detached from reality, he thinks his opinion of PR people is both universal and relevant.

  2. Talk about putting someone in their place! Love it – want to do the same to my boss.

  3. Mark Story Says: March 24, 2009 at 3:34 am

    Thanks, Jason.

    I like your comments, but can’t get the picture of Elmer Fudd out of my mind when I read the work “cewebrity.”

    Hehehehehehehehe. Wassacawly wabbits.

  4. Jason Falls has some good comments – I’d like to associate myself with the comments of the distinguished gentleman from Louisville.

    I have to chuckle every time I see someone declaring something “dead” – that’s usually when the thing takes off. But if I were Mr. Scoble – and let me stress I think he deserves credit for his entrepreneurship and his outspoken nature – I’d want to make sure I don’t confuse my personal preferences and experiences about receiving communication with what’s appropriate for others and what’s “dead.” Say “anyone who pitches ME on email is stupid,” not “anyone who pitches YOU on email is stupid.

    Or perhaps he doesn’t realize there are about a billion people on this planet who have email but aren’t on Facebook, Twitter, or some other thing like that.

    Mark (and Jason), you know as well as anyone that the social media tools we all use can make you look more popular than you really are. The Tech marketing/PR crowd tends to be a somewhat fawning bunch, creating celebrities out of essentially thin air. It’s also remarkably isolated. I have to believe Scoble knows who thinks he’s a tech demigod and who has never heard of him, and the relative size of each group.

    I’m coming to realize there’s something worse than believing you’re a big deal by reading your press clippings – it’s believing you’re a big deal by looking at the number of followers you have on twitter. I’m not saying that’s where Scoble is, but comments like that don’t exactly convince me otherwise.

  5. I haven’t listened yet (deadlines to meet) but I will later. Few things turn me off quicker than using profanity (my dad always said this is a sign someone has a limited vocabulary–if all you can come up with to express yourself is profanity, you obviously don’t know enough words) and making blanket statements about how something should be, based solely on your own experience.

    Mr. Scoble and the other tech types who think they know what PR takes have a limited understanding of the practice. What I find ironic is that the type of PR he is advocating (people he knows, talking to him at dinner) is nothing but a kissing cousin to that most maligned of professions: lobbying. Seriously, his understanding of PR is akin to someone saying they understand the medical profession because they watch ER and Grey’s Anatomy.

    This is the danger of the Internet and blogging–making celebrities out of people who used to be just the loud but kinda interesting guy at the block party. Only now he’s everywhere, and has such an exaggerated sense of importance he thinks his Thoughts Matter.

    This is not to say that there aren’t a lot of bad, awful, pitches out there. This happens when clients get hung up on numbers (How hard are you guys working on my account? Why, sir, we sent 2,000 pitches yesterday alone! Ah, great!) and PR firms so intent on pleasing a client they forget they should act as counsel too, and push back (and say no) when necessary.

    Lots more to say, but I’ve got to get back to the tasks at hand…great post Mark, and great comments Jason & David.


  6. Hi Mark:
    Interesting – if not blunt – take on Scoble’s anti-PR rant.

    What I find incredible is that Scoble thinks he sits on some moral high ground even after admitting that he accepted several thousand dollars from Cisco to cover one of their product launches — giving them full editorial control over his content.

    More info on that here:

    So should we really be surprised that he prefers to be “wined and dined?”

  7. This was definitely not the image I wanted to see when I woke up on Tuesday. Although it was online the term “coyote ugly” came to mind. I met him once in DC and thought I was meeting Philip Seymour Hoffman =(

  8. Raquel Fuentes Says: March 26, 2009 at 8:43 am

    Mark, I love the fact that you’re so passionate about PR.

    This is what happens when people with limited intellect-hence, the vocabulary-acquire notoriety and, all of a sudden, think their opinion on everything is relevant, acurate and actually matters.

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