3 min read

ABM, Folio and the rants of a single malcontent

The I-hate-the-ABM-blog controversy has been fun. And it has been good for page views (mine and theirs.) And there seems to be no end in sight to the craziness.
Here's the latest:
Last night Folio published an article about the disappointment that many of us have experienced with MediaPace.
But shortly thereafter, and much to my pleasure, Rex of Rexblog arrived at ABM.
That would have put an end to it. Rex is fabulous. All of us can learn from him. I expected the ABM blog to improve instantly.
But now the public relations guy at ABM has sent a nasty letter to Folio complaining about the article. Among his complaints is that reporter quoted the "rants of a single malcontent" (that's me!) and did so "without offering any credentials." (Note to curious people who don't know how blogs work. Use your "mouse" to "click" on the words to the right that say "About Me" and your computer will show you a brand new page that talks About Me!)
Rex -- god bless him and his belief in transparency -- published the letter on the ABM site.
But within minutes, the entire post was removed.
At 2:24 today, I posted a comment on the ABM blog seeking an explanation as to what happened to Rex's earlier post. I have waited an hour, but they have not yet responded.
I can't imagine that ABM would try and censor Rex. But I suppose anything is possible.
I still have Rex's post and the letter in my browser cache. I also talked with the Folio reporter. He confirmed that ABM did send the letter to him. He gave me permission to use it here.
Here's what it looked like:

Your story on MediaPace was neither fair nor balanced. The tone of the piece (obviously set before you spoke with American Business Media) was based on the rants of a single malcontent – a person you anointed as an authority without offering any credentials. This approach is a journalistic blunder from the onset.
You neglected to mention that ABM labored for months in research and development of MediaPace with guidance from proven blogging experts (I gave you names and Web sites), ABM members across the globe, and its committees. Furthermore, you portrayed ABM’s new Blog Committee chair as one of its critics, and incorrectly stated a strategic shift that has not been adopted.
You also neglected to mention that, among the nearly 1000 visits MediaPace experienced this week alone, were postings from proven business-to-business leaders such as Jeff Reinhardt and Tom Cintorino. You neglected to mention that the intended course of dialogue on MediaPace has been abundant, creates a new level of discussion on business media’s critical issues (in line with our mission), and that its postings outnumber the same week’s postings of MediaPace’s most vocal critic. These are all points we discussed.
In such, you understated the mission of MediaPace, which, along with offering our members (including Folio:) a platform for discovery in this rapidly advancing medium, offers a forum for high level discussion on business media topics. Instead, you pandered to base critics without examining their motives, and presented a disparaging portrayal - aided by headline, placement, and lead - to a large audience.
Yet, the most disturbing and unprofessional aspect of this presentation is the way you malign the American Business Media logo at the top of your newsletter; a sophomoric tactic that treads very close to libel.
Remember Dylan, your audience is made of the best minds in media; hacking like this is transparent, a waste of time, and gives credence to those trying to undermine the leadership and courage of a 100-year-old institution. In your alleged examination (rife with grammatical missteps of its own) of a journalistic endeavor, you avoided the fundamentals of fair and balanced reporting - novice approach, tacky delivery.
Steve Ennen Director of Communications American Business Media

I'll resist the urge to call Ennen's letter the rants of a single malcontent. And I'll resist the urge to give ABM another lecture about transparency and blog culture. I'll even resist the urge to point out that ABM is a media association that may want to avoid blaming the media for its troubles.
Instead, I'll urge someone there to look at this article in a B2B publication about how to handle a public relations problem. It's a simple piece, written for beginners. It even has cartoons. One key tip when dealing with a reporter: Remain calm. Hostile responses or angry words only cloud your message.

ADDENDUM: Four hours after I asked for an explanation about the missing post. Rex said that he decided that his "personal blog would be a better place to do that kind of post." I'll be looking forward to seeing it there.