On cultural cringe – didn’t we bury this years ago?

by Lee Hopkins on December 14, 2006 · 27 comments

in miscellaneous

Haven't we gotten rid of our cultural cringe yet? Sadly, it would appear not...

Some days I follow Pauline Collins’ lead and start having a conversation with the wall in front of me.

“Hello wall,” I say.

It never talks back, which is a good thing probably.

Shirley Valentine: Hiya Wall.
[to the camera]
Shirley Valentine: Well what’s wrong with that? There’s a woman three doors down talks to her microwave. Talking to a microwave! Wall, what’s the world coming to?

The Public Relations Institute of Australia (based, notably, in Australia) just hired my friend and colleague Shel Holtz (based in America) to talk to it about ‘business blogging’.

I have nothing against Shel talking to anyone, and if anyone knows anything about Social Media then my mate Shel does! He’s even written a book or three about it.

But what really gets up my nose and under my skin is that when the professional body for PR practitioners in Australia, supposedly the icons for all Aussie PR practitioners, look for guidance on this new ‘stuff’ they approach (in what smacks of the redolent ‘cultural cringe’ of the 1960s-1990s) someone ‘not from round these parts’. Why?

I would love to know why the following luminaries could not have been asked to shed some light on business blogging in Australia:

Even I, who in no way shape or form considers or calls himself a PR practitioner could have offered some insight.

But no — instead of recognising and rewarding those within its own geography who have ‘gone the hard yards’ and built up both knowledge and experience themselves, a large and influential representative body chooses to slap its fellow countrymen in the face and approach an ‘outsider’. A supremely knowledgeable, affable and wise outsider, very true. But not the only Social Mediarist and business blogger on the planet.

Knowing Shel, I am sure he would have raised his eyebrows and expressed his surprise at being approached by the PRIA in lieu of his Aussie friends and colleagues. No doubt the PRIA had/have their own agenda.

But how long will it be before we finally rid ourselves of the ridiculous notion that it is only ‘foreigners’ (and particularly ‘North Americans’) that hold the keys to knowledge and wisdom about everything?

In Australia we have some of the finest minds in the planet, conducting some of the most breath-taking research and delivering results the world is desperate to hear. But in the world of business we are only, it seems, as good as… well, not very good at all. Far better, it seems, to pull in an outsider than to enquire of our own home-grown and culturally well-versed minds what needs to be done.

The PRIA could equally, rather than sully itself with asking Australian PR practitioners to talk to it, have approached Australian businesses that are engaged in the Social Media space:

Off the top of my head these include:

…and there are no doubt more but I need to get this post out and my feet out to a meeting.

I doubt I will hear a response, but I am emailing PRIA President Annabelle Warren (and more about her, and more) a copy of the White Paper on Social Media I co-wrote with Trevor Cook. It may just help her see that there are–shock!–even Australians who know about blogging for business…

______

Thanks to Paull Young who, whilst rushing out of the door to attend yet another bun-fest on his world-wide jaunt, found his eyes snapping when he saw Shel’s post and rattled off a quick email to me and a few other friends.

/rant


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  • http://trevorcook.typepad.com/ Trevor Cook

    Good stuff, Lee

  • http://trevorcook.typepad.com Trevor Cook

    Good stuff, Lee

  • http://blog.holtz.com/ Shel Holtz

    Just two things to mention, Lee, that might ease your suffering. One, “hired” isn’t the right word, since it was a volunteer gig. And two, as I recall I was approached based on my authorship of the “Blogging for Business” book (which was, in fact, the title of the teleseminar).

    Not that the PRIA shouldn’t have gone with a local son or daughter. Just thought I’d pass that along, though.

  • http://blog.holtz.com Shel Holtz

    Just two things to mention, Lee, that might ease your suffering. One, “hired” isn’t the right word, since it was a volunteer gig. And two, as I recall I was approached based on my authorship of the “Blogging for Business” book (which was, in fact, the title of the teleseminar).

    Not that the PRIA shouldn’t have gone with a local son or daughter. Just thought I’d pass that along, though.

  • http://www.prdisasters.com/ Gerry

    As a Scot-turned-Aussie, I’ve seen a bit of ‘prophet from another land’ syndrome here (which I, naturally, play on a bit). Much of what I learn in blogland comes from homegrown (Oz) talent but maybe PRIA were going for a ‘big name’ they thought would be more marketable?

  • http://www.prdisasters.com Gerry

    As a Scot-turned-Aussie, I’ve seen a bit of ‘prophet from another land’ syndrome here (which I, naturally, play on a bit). Much of what I learn in blogland comes from homegrown (Oz) talent but maybe PRIA were going for a ‘big name’ they thought would be more marketable?

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee Hopkins

    Hey Shel, thanks for that, mate. No one has a ‘beef’ with you about this, trust me, but we would be as equally incredulous if your PR body or IABC in USA suddenly approached us to talk to them. Sure, I can understand why they approached you (you did, after all, write the book on the subject [grin]), but cannot fathom why they didn’t also invite any of us country yokels. Ooops – snark alert! :-)

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee Hopkins

    Hey Shel, thanks for that, mate. No one has a ‘beef’ with you about this, trust me, but we would be as equally incredulous if your PR body or IABC in USA suddenly approached us to talk to them. Sure, I can understand why they approached you (you did, after all, write the book on the subject [grin]), but cannot fathom why they didn’t also invite any of us country yokels. Ooops – snark alert! :-)

  • http://trevorcook.typepad.com/ Trevor Cook

    Should we take bets on whether the PRIA will ever respond and when

  • http://trevorcook.typepad.com Trevor Cook

    Should we take bets on whether the PRIA will ever respond and when

  • http://blog.holtz.com/ Shel Holtz

    Ah, keep in mind, Lee, the “I” in IABC is for “international!” IABC would and has had speakers from across the globe. And by hook or by crook, we shall see you at the next INTERNATIONAL conference in June!

  • http://blog.holtz.com Shel Holtz

    Ah, keep in mind, Lee, the “I” in IABC is for “international!” IABC would and has had speakers from across the globe. And by hook or by crook, we shall see you at the next INTERNATIONAL conference in June!

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee Hopkins

    I am busting to be in New Orleans in June, mate!!

    Now, I wouldn’t sell my right arm to be there, but if anyone is in the market for a little grey haired ol’ grannie… [LOL]

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee Hopkins

    I am busting to be in New Orleans in June, mate!!

    Now, I wouldn’t sell my right arm to be there, but if anyone is in the market for a little grey haired ol’ grannie… [LOL]

  • http://www.pria.com.au/ Andrew Parkinson

    Lee, thanks for your post, I found it entertaining. Couple of points:

    *We use home-grown talent all the time – every year we provide hundreds of hours of content across dozens of events throughout Australia.

    *Since you mention him, Gerry (McCusker) has already agreed to help us with a Sydney event on 20 February – http://www.pria.com.au/events/id/41026

    *We run web conferences to reach the parts other events can’t reach – in this case overseas contributions, and at relatively low or (for PRIA members) no cost. Members tell us they value that.

    *Shel was indeed a fantastic draw. This was also our first US-sourced web event. We’re extremely grateful to Shel for taking time out to support it; and to our members for their participation.

    *We have more activity planned around this emerging issue next year, exploring members’ views, providing training and other resources, and through events including our National Conference in Sydney from 14-16 October.

    If there are other activities people feel we should be leading or involved in we’d be pleased to hear about them – email national@pria.com.au

    One of the main reasons organisations like ours exist is to connect people with others that share their values, in our case over 2,500 students, practitioners, academics and others across Australia; a professional body is nothing more than a reflection of its membership.

    The best way to make a difference?

    Join.

    Have a fantastic Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.

  • http://www.pria.com.au Andrew Parkinson

    Lee, thanks for your post, I found it entertaining. Couple of points:

    *We use home-grown talent all the time – every year we provide hundreds of hours of content across dozens of events throughout Australia.

    *Since you mention him, Gerry (McCusker) has already agreed to help us with a Sydney event on 20 February – http://www.pria.com.au/events/id/41026

    *We run web conferences to reach the parts other events can’t reach – in this case overseas contributions, and at relatively low or (for PRIA members) no cost. Members tell us they value that.

    *Shel was indeed a fantastic draw. This was also our first US-sourced web event. We’re extremely grateful to Shel for taking time out to support it; and to our members for their participation.

    *We have more activity planned around this emerging issue next year, exploring members’ views, providing training and other resources, and through events including our National Conference in Sydney from 14-16 October.

    If there are other activities people feel we should be leading or involved in we’d be pleased to hear about them – email national@pria.com.au

    One of the main reasons organisations like ours exist is to connect people with others that share their values, in our case over 2,500 students, practitioners, academics and others across Australia; a professional body is nothing more than a reflection of its membership.

    The best way to make a difference?

    Join.

    Have a fantastic Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.

  • PRIA member

    Lee, thumbs down to your ‘cringe’ – it’s called parochialism. Thumbs up to Andrew’s response on behalf of PRIA and for providing a high quality FREE CPD activity for it’s members with a world leader in the field – something that would otherwise have been impossible for me to benefit from. Does the term Global Village not mean anything to you? PS: this is my first blog posting!

  • PRIA member

    Lee, thumbs down to your ‘cringe’ – it’s called parochialism. Thumbs up to Andrew’s response on behalf of PRIA and for providing a high quality FREE CPD activity for it’s members with a world leader in the field – something that would otherwise have been impossible for me to benefit from. Does the term Global Village not mean anything to you? PS: this is my first blog posting!

  • http://trevorcook.typepad.com/ Trevor Cook

    No actually ‘pria member’ that was a comment, to make a blog posting you have to have a blog – perhaps you should review your seminar notes!

  • http://trevorcook.typepad.com Trevor Cook

    No actually ‘pria member’ that was a comment, to make a blog posting you have to have a blog – perhaps you should review your seminar notes!

  • A different PRIA member

    I agree with PRIA member — it is great that the PRIA is providing these free, high quality CPD activities. Sure there are experts in our country, but why not hear the perspective of an international speaker sometimes too.

    Thanks to Shel for a great seminar and the PRIA for putting it on.

  • A different PRIA member

    I agree with PRIA member — it is great that the PRIA is providing these free, high quality CPD activities. Sure there are experts in our country, but why not hear the perspective of an international speaker sometimes too.

    Thanks to Shel for a great seminar and the PRIA for putting it on.

  • http://www.deanpower.net/ Dean

    as always lee, leading the aussie pack. i remember once reading that australians had one of the world’s largest “personal space” bubbles on the planet. as i recall the thesis was that our convict ancestory lead us to distrust others, thus keeep our distance. again and again i see this bowing down to “knowledge from afar”. i ackonowledge that it is part of culture, however i support with a two handed vote that we should be pissed, that we should “fire up”, and attempt to transend this “blind spot” in our psyche. cheers dean

  • http://www.deanpower.net Dean

    as always lee, leading the aussie pack. i remember once reading that australians had one of the world’s largest “personal space” bubbles on the planet. as i recall the thesis was that our convict ancestory lead us to distrust others, thus keeep our distance. again and again i see this bowing down to “knowledge from afar”. i ackonowledge that it is part of culture, however i support with a two handed vote that we should be pissed, that we should “fire up”, and attempt to transend this “blind spot” in our psyche. cheers dean

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee Hopkins

    Thanks everyone for your comments!

    My goodness — HASN’T there been a lot of emotion here! I have to say that I *really* do appreciate Andrew weighing into the conversation — I didn’t expect that, thank you Andrew! I take it from your tone that you are a member of the PRIA executive, for which I commend you for your involvement in this conversation.

    As for the two anonymous commenters — I appreciate, too, your involvement, but the blogosphere is much more likely to take your comments credibly if you give us your real names (see my post http://leehopkins.net/2005/09/28/we-move-from-evangelism-to-evangelist-educators/)

    But I accept that your heart is in the right place and so I welcome you to the conversation and look forward to hearing that you, too, have started your own PR-focused blogs. That will definitely help your credibility, rather than (as it appears at the moment) that you have ‘joined the conversation’ as partisan interests. One cannot help feeling that the ‘PRIA member’ tag of one sort or another means that people were ‘roped into’ offering some sort of opinion without necessarily having the full background information on which to base it.

    I would love to hear from Annabelle herself, but understand that her business interests may keep her away from the blogosphere and from entering into this discussion.

    Let me reiterate — I am not a PR practitioner, nor never have I strongly proclaimed myself to be one. For some bizarre reason everyone seems to keep lumping me into the ‘PR’ bracket — I consider myself, primarily, someone who is an evangelist for online communication IN WHATEVER FORM, be it internal or external to a company. My biggest ‘communication’ love (apres internet) is for internal communication.

    My PASSION is for finding ways for companies and individuals to ‘tell their story’ honestly, openly and frankly, in order that within the new paradigm that the internet operates under they might find new souls equally interested in their passion.

    I have no doubt (and those who have *actually* read my blog before and listened to my FIR reports would easily attest to this) that Shel would be the perfect person to interview regarding ‘business blogging’.

    What I find egregious is that no ‘local yokel’ was also asked to add their two cents’ worth. PLEASE correct me if I am wrong.

    I have been fortunate to be invited to be a guest presenter on a panel with several other PR folk — including Ross Monaghan and Dr Collette Snowden (http://leehopkins.net/2006/08/30/public-impact-seminar-15th-august/) .

    What stunned ALL of us is that not ONE PR person was present in the audience — despite Ross having visited several major PR companies here in Adelaide the day before. This was an event that was heralded much in advance, yet no PR person deigned to show up.

    It makes me wonder how much the Australian PR industry (which I am not a part of) is keen to bury its collective head in the sand and pretend that newspapers, TV and radio are the only media worth worrying about.

    In which case the PRIA has MUCH work to do in Adelaide if it is to bring the SA body into line with 21st century communication practices.

    Even an old-salt journalist at the seminar, from Murdoch’s ‘Advertiser’ rag, commented that she uses Google to find her ‘experts’. Ask Shel, Trevor Cook, myself or any of the aforementioned folks in this original post about how blogs are very ‘google’ friendly…

    I look forward to hearing what the PRIA is doing in South Australia to bring its membership into the 21st century.

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee Hopkins

    Thanks everyone for your comments!

    My goodness — HASN’T there been a lot of emotion here! I have to say that I *really* do appreciate Andrew weighing into the conversation — I didn’t expect that, thank you Andrew! I take it from your tone that you are a member of the PRIA executive, for which I commend you for your involvement in this conversation.

    As for the two anonymous commenters — I appreciate, too, your involvement, but the blogosphere is much more likely to take your comments credibly if you give us your real names (see my post http://leehopkins.net/2005/09/28/we-move-from-evangelism-to-evangelist-educators/)

    But I accept that your heart is in the right place and so I welcome you to the conversation and look forward to hearing that you, too, have started your own PR-focused blogs. That will definitely help your credibility, rather than (as it appears at the moment) that you have ‘joined the conversation’ as partisan interests. One cannot help feeling that the ‘PRIA member’ tag of one sort or another means that people were ‘roped into’ offering some sort of opinion without necessarily having the full background information on which to base it.

    I would love to hear from Annabelle herself, but understand that her business interests may keep her away from the blogosphere and from entering into this discussion.

    Let me reiterate — I am not a PR practitioner, nor never have I strongly proclaimed myself to be one. For some bizarre reason everyone seems to keep lumping me into the ‘PR’ bracket — I consider myself, primarily, someone who is an evangelist for online communication IN WHATEVER FORM, be it internal or external to a company. My biggest ‘communication’ love (apres internet) is for internal communication.

    My PASSION is for finding ways for companies and individuals to ‘tell their story’ honestly, openly and frankly, in order that within the new paradigm that the internet operates under they might find new souls equally interested in their passion.

    I have no doubt (and those who have *actually* read my blog before and listened to my FIR reports would easily attest to this) that Shel would be the perfect person to interview regarding ‘business blogging’.

    What I find egregious is that no ‘local yokel’ was also asked to add their two cents’ worth. PLEASE correct me if I am wrong.

    I have been fortunate to be invited to be a guest presenter on a panel with several other PR folk — including Ross Monaghan and Dr Collette Snowden (http://leehopkins.net/2006/08/30/public-impact-seminar-15th-august/) .

    What stunned ALL of us is that not ONE PR person was present in the audience — despite Ross having visited several major PR companies here in Adelaide the day before. This was an event that was heralded much in advance, yet no PR person deigned to show up.

    It makes me wonder how much the Australian PR industry (which I am not a part of) is keen to bury its collective head in the sand and pretend that newspapers, TV and radio are the only media worth worrying about.

    In which case the PRIA has MUCH work to do in Adelaide if it is to bring the SA body into line with 21st century communication practices.

    Even an old-salt journalist at the seminar, from Murdoch’s ‘Advertiser’ rag, commented that she uses Google to find her ‘experts’. Ask Shel, Trevor Cook, myself or any of the aforementioned folks in this original post about how blogs are very ‘google’ friendly…

    I look forward to hearing what the PRIA is doing in South Australia to bring its membership into the 21st century.

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