The Amanda I Knew

Feeling pretty guilty today. I missed my post yesterday. It was my first weekday miss in more than two years. No. I’m not following in the footsteps of Brian Connolly. I’ve just been sidetracked by activities that actually pay the bills (not that blogging doesn’t have its benefits).

As for Brian Connolly, I have mixed feelings about his calling it quits. In fact I kind of feel partially responsible for his arrival, though I never condoned the venomous vitriol that the pseudonymous Amanda aimed at some of our industry’s name players (and wannabes).

I never understood the roots or motivation of his clever, headline-making sniping. Was it the allure of blogebrity? Perhaps it was some deep-seated disdain for the agency business. Keep in mind he was an agency casualty from the dot-com downturn who never re-gained the glory. Maybe he’s just one of the myriad PR contrarians, but with a decent command of the English language and the digital wherewithal to gain share of voice.

As for my role in the sordid arrival of the lascivious Amanda, I did get a call from Mr. Connolly several weeks before she first burst on the scene at the end of March 2006. He was referrred by a mutual acquaintence and came armed with many questions about my blog. I liked him. We talked about the then burgeoning blogosphere and the general state of the PR biz. I can’t remember, but I may even have referred him to a digital PR job opening at one large, Atlanta-based beverage company.

Two weeks later, the infamous e-mail arrived from “Amanda,” linking to her new blog called Strumpette. I found it well-written, but decidedly distasteful. Too much snark, too much baiting for my taste. Only one person I knew could give it its just due. I sent the mysterious email to my new blogging buddy Scott Baradell of Media Orchard, who in turn gave Amanda a big Texas welcome. Amanda had now arrived on the PR map — for better and worse.

As soon as “she” appeared, so did the controversy of who “she” really was. Within a few days, I received a call from Mr. Connolly to shoot the breeze. While he didn’t admit to being Amanda, he also implied that writing under a fictitious character is not such a bad thing. I adamantly disagreed, and said that that approach would not fly in the blogosphere. (Ultimately, he may have proved me wrong.) Nonetheless, I told him that if there’s no real Amanda, he better find somone of the female perusasion to be her. It’s simply too swarmy to have a middle-aged man posting as a licentious young woman.

The rest is history. Eventually, Amanda softened “her” hard-nosed rejection of all things social media, though, at her death, she/he was still a long way from embracing the changes in our business. This surprised me given Mr. Connolly’s grounding in technology PR.

In the end, I suspect Strumpette’s demise was more a function of ROI: too much time for too little return. No advertising revenue, and no benefit to the author’s day job, whatever that is. Fun, confounding, and unnerving while it lasted. It also raised some important issues, but perhaps for the wrong reasons.

What others have to say:

David Meerman

Ron Jeffries

Mark Rose (Strumpette contributor)

Eric Eggertson

Sherrilynne Starkie

Frank Paynter