Monday, May 11, 2009

Getting to know: Advertising Age's Matt Creamer

Fresh from his New York Times-documented search for a Manhattan apartment, Advertising Age's Matt Creamer is just back from Raleigh, N.C., if you follow his Twitter feed.

Creamer used to cover the PR industry for PRWeek and moved over to AdAge to join another former PRWeek-er, Jonah Bloom, to take on the advertising world. My favorite article of his is "Optimize Me," in which he gets a crash course in search engine optimization to monopolize Google's first page when looking up his name.

He periodically has some choice public words for PR people on that ticker when they rub him the wrong way, as they did today: "I'm going to do a digital Guantanamo on the next PR person who emails me that their client is on Twitter." After seeing a few of these PR SCUD missiles, I decided it would be to everybody's benefit to learn more about the Philadelphia Phillies-lovin' Mr. Creamer.

What were you covering at PR Week? What got you moving over to Ad Age? How familiar were you with what you were about to cover?

I covered the media business for PRWeek. I moved over to AdAge to cover the agency business, which i did for about two years before taking on the role of editor-at-large. I left PRWeek mainly because AdAge offered me a bigger platform and more varied topic to write about.

You are an "editor-at-large." What does that mean and how has your beat evolved over time?

I was an editor-at-large. I'm now senior editor. The difference should be obvious. Kidding! Basically now I'm responsible for general editing duties, for figuring out how we can enhance our global coverage, for getting a bunch of special reports we do out the door, and for some thing that I can't talk about yet.

You periodically take a shot or two at publicists who bug you ("Extraordinarily tired of PR people asking 'What process does AdAge use to decide X?' Answer is we looks for shit that works"). Having covered the PR field at PRWeek and now being hit up by publicists at AdAge, have they learned anything about dealing with journalists? How do you suss out a smart publicist?

I generally regard taking indirect potshots at publicists as a low-hanging fruit and try to avoid it unless I think doing so will help the PR community interact more productively with me or with my AdAge colleagues. Also, sometimes I'm get really pissed off and Tweet before I think it through. Anyway, I actually prefer directly dealing with PR people who bother me simply because there seems to be more integrity to one-on-one dealings even if they often result in major time sucks.

I wouldn't say PR people have gotten any worse or any better. Some get it, many don't.

Good tactical media relations is all about relevance. Does a publicist know the publication and does a publicist know the journalist he/she/it is pitching? This is usually evident immediately.

Did you ever have the itch to go into PR? If you ran a PR agency, what would your first three mandates be?

The idea of doing PR doesn't particularly appeal to me, but in a bizarro universe where I started up my own agency I'd do with these three tenets, adapted from the penultimate line of...wait for it... T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land." That line is "Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata" and means "Give. Sympathize. Control."

Give: Pitching a story isn't the same as buying an ad. Too many flacks try to order up stories. There has to be a give and take in the reporter-PR relationship

Sympathize: Journalists aren't there to do PR people's bidding.

Control: By this I mean, control of your message or your client brand. Don't manipulate, don't let it go. Keep both hands steady on the wheel and don't overreact to bumps in the road and don't fall asleep.

Twitter: Passing phase? Dumb addiction? Have you ever been pitched on it? What can people learn about you from following your feed?

Twitter will be bought. It's a feature on a platform, not a platform unto itself. I like Facebook as a buyer simply because I think the choice these days is between spending time on Facebook or Twitter. Why not combine them?

I've been pitched plenty on Twitter. I'd rather not be pitched there unless it makes sense within the normal procedures of my relationship with the person who's pitching.

In December 2007, you wrote that great Ad Age story "Optimize Me" on raising your own profile on Google, way before Julia Angwin copped the idea earlier this year. Yet, when I type in "Matt Creamer" into Google now, I don't get the same page, but a Twitter feed on a black Wordpress blog. What happened to the "Matt Creamer" brand hub? Do you still actively do homemade SEO to keep your name on the first page of Google? I see a Boston-based Matt Creamer's Facebook link crept onto that first page.

Time is in short supply, which is why I lost track of the blog. I'd like to start it up again, but I'm not sure when. Twitter is much more calibrated to my attention span these days. But I really would like to get the blog going again. That said, I'm not terribly unhappy with my performance on the search engines, especially since I'm not writing less because I'm editing more. Considering a search for "Matt Creamer" used to yield some idiotic basketball coach spewing sports cliches or, worse, a Christian rock star, the current state of affairs isn't too bad. I'll knock that bastard from Beantown outta there though.

Absolutely most "out there" PR pitch ever received?

Where to begin... I'll paste in a snippet of one I got today. This person introduced herself by mentioning an article on AOL I wrote recently then wrote this:.

I was wondering if you would consider linking to our website as an example of a successful dial-up provider that may meet the needs of your readers. The html below provides a link to our home site. You can replace the word dialup in your article with this entry:">dial-up

Perhaps you'd like to write about us in the future! If you prefer to mention in an article directly, this link would also take readers to our home page:"> Dial-Up Internet Access

I think the problems here are self-explanatory

Ever had a Susan Boyle moment when you were non-plussed about some demo and then when you saw it, it was the greatest thing since Swiss cheese?

No. It's usually the other way around.

Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch? Please explain.

Ah, yes, my Facebook movie favorites. Gremlins is my favorite Christmas movie. Vicious and funny, it's also got a great scene where Phoebe Cates explains the sadness of the holidays by telling how her father died while coming down the chimney in a Santa outfit. The Gremlins sequel is brilliant corporate satire. Watch it and see!

Predictions for the Phillies this year? Will the pitchers stop giving up homers?

The Phillies will finish in first place because of the failings of its divisional rivals, but lose in the playoffs. It'll be a lost season for Cole Hamels, but they'll score enough runs to pull through. The Mets won't make the playoffs and will proceed with breaking up the team.

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