Well, a timely reminder for myself this week on two fronts – maybe even more.
I was reading a post about “astroturfing” yesterday in Into PR by Owen Lystrup where Owen commented on a video he had been watching of Seth Godin talking at Google (Aside: well worth a look by the way).
I was confused.
While I enjoy listening to Seth Godin and have come to expect the unexpected when he talks, I was still bemused about why he wanted to talk about artificial lawns and how it related to a “permissions business model”. It was only on my third reading that the reality finally dawned that when he referred to “astroturfing”, he wasn’t talking about his artificial grass replacement options, but rather something else. After a little checking, this “something else” turned out to be the dubious PR practice of orchestrating PR activities to make them look like spontaneous “public initiated” events. (Check out Wikipedia or Answers.com for a fuller explanation).
Aha! The fog suddenly clears.
So why this post? Well, I consider myself to be fairly well informed, certainly interested in marketing & PR and generally up to date with what’s going on in the online marketing arena as a whole – and yet I had never heard the term “Astroturfing” before or, as I now discover, that there is an “Anti Astroturfing” campaign and who knows what else.
It has therefore been a timely reminder to me not to presume levels of knowledge and understanding based on my own experiences, either in my blogging or my workshops. We all have our own areas of expertise. The business people I work with are all very knowledgeable in their own fields, but as we examine the “benefits of corporate blogging” or “the potential of RSS”, it’s important for me to remember that these will be totally new areas for some which need to be explained properly before delving into their many business benefits. Hopefully, my “Astroturfing” experience will remind me of this.
So two notes to myself:
- check through my Business Blogging workshops and make certain that there are no areas of assumed knowledge and that I have managed to explain things as clearly as possible;
- add “Astroturfing” my Glossary of Blogging.
Right – now I’m off to the park where there’s definitely no artificial grass or lurking PR groupies to confuse me!