Tech Upstarts Avoid Scrutiny on the Web

The "new world of promoting start-ups in Silicon Valley," California, is "where the lines between journalists and everyone else are blurring and the number of followers a pundit has on Twitter is sometimes viewed as more important than old metrics like the circulation of a newspaper," observes the New York Times. Instead of angling for "mentions in print and on television," publicists for new tech companies "court influential voices on the social Web." This means that "P.R. people must know hundreds of writers, bloggers and Twitter users instead of having six top reporters on speed dial." One "omnipresent start-up pitchwoman," Brooke Hammerling, focused on social media when promoting Wordnik, a new website. She scored Twitter mentions from Digg executives, along with other "tweets and blog posts" that described Wordnik as "'an ongoing project,' adopting the language the P.R. team had decided on. ... None of the coverage was in print, and most wasn't by professional journalists." Bypassing traditional media has an added advantage: "Wordnik hasn't announced how it will make money, and its backers are worried that some reporters and writers will pick apart that fact," reports the Times. The missing revenue strategy is also why Hammerling presents the site "as a 'project' instead of as a 'company.'" Many PR professionals were upset with the Times article, according to PR Week. It promoted a "stereotype, which is trivializing us," complained Richard Edelman.