PRWeek is turning 10 in the US and I was asked to write a brief post for their blog. You can find it here. Below the ”longer”, original version.
Happy birthday, PRWeek!
I first arrived at Silicon Valley 10 years ago, almost to the day. Most people were still using Altavista and Netscape. The word “social” was rarely used, and never before “media” or “networks”. But at every Starbucks – from Santa Cruz to Pleasanton — everyone was talking about the next big thing. Everybody had a business plan. Everyone was able to “get funding.” Companies were changing their names, often adding a .com to the brand so their valuations could go up. Apple was launching the iMacs, then the iPod. It was “boom” time. Things were crazy. I had just arrived from Italy and my country had never seen such madness, at least not since the Renaissance! (we would a few years later, with the World Cup in 2006.)
Most of the PR professionals I knew left their “boring” corporate or agency jobs to join a dotcom. The mirage, the hollow promise of becoming an instant millionaire was just too tempting to turn down. I was new to this market, loved my job, and was not interested in putting it at risk. And then, the bubble burst. And were in the middle of it. People who a few months earlier had left to get rich were calling me to get their jobs back.
What did we all learn? The strategic importance of PR during a downturn. It can help companies gain market share and end up much stronger than before. From an agency perspective, obsessive client service and compulsive focus on your talent base – all these things helped us get through that difficult time. And they’ll help us again.
And at every Starbucks now, I still hear about innovation, about the next big thing. The difference is that now I’ll tweet about it before draining my coffee cup.