Tech PR: The Blog as Fortune Cookie
A neighbor lady invites me to her place for dinner. By her red pajama suit I surmise she’s a follower of Rammed Ass, Swami Scratchyerbanana or other esoteric cultist. She’s ordered Chinese takeout. While my host repairs to the kitchen for drinks, I thread the fortune from her cookie and write on the back, “Tonight you are doing the dishes” then slip it back, unobserved. Later she does exactly as instructed. It’s then I realize there really is a Higher Power.
In tech PR and marketing, pundits dispense advice with similar near-divine authority. One such is Seth Godin. I read Seth’s blog with a mix of anticipation and caution. God has a wicked sense of humor and loves to put a tack in your chair. You never know when She might speak in tongues through a marketing guy.
One recent inspired kernel of wisdom from Seth:
“The most successful people I know got that way by ignoring the race to find the elusive, there’s-only-one-and-no-one-has-found-it right answer and instead had the guts to look at the infinite landscape of choices and pick a better problem instead.”
There was a time, as an undergraduate, when I walked among those who’d have instantly grocked the mystic intent of a Seth Godin. They took a lot of LSD. Today, as a tech blogger, I go out of my way to avoid saying anything that will lead mystified followers to drugs. Crafting simple, concrete prose is work. You can’t get there with a pill, a mantra or any other kind of shortcut.
In New York I worked on East 57th Street next to a building that housed the New York Zendo. I enrolled and was sent upstairs for an introductory class in Zen meditation. The teacher was a grim, deadly serious guy who wore a long black kimono and spoke in a thick Bronx accent. “I want youse guys to guys to close yer eyes, den breed slowly and count 1 to 10 wid each breath.” As a man who’s always bred at an even pace, I was immediately put at ease. Zen would be a snap. A little too relaxed, I inadvertently kept counting to 12. Joey the Zen instructor was incensed and wanted to throw me out for disrupting the class. The Japanese Zen master happened by at that moment, and sensing a kindred spirit perhaps, took me aside.
“May the bird of paradise fly up your nose,” he said with a chuckle, and let me stay. From that day on I understood Seth Godin. It’s a Zen thing.
Jim Crawford is the president and founder of Crawford PR. In Crawford blogs, he offers hard-earned perspective on public relations for the tech and broadband industries.