Valley in the Alley

It felt like one of those Jupiter conferences back in the day when Evan Neufeld and his ilk reigned supreme. (Actually, it was a Jupiter Conference!) The buzz was palpable at the Search Engine Strategies Conference at the NY Hilton this week. All those SEM/SEO, AdWords/AdSense pundits in one room! The Kool Aid was especially potent. Outside the hotel, a crowd had gathered around one Google exec whose rock star status was in full bloom.

I was with my colleague and sometimes client Rob Key of Converseon and our mutual friend and colleague Constantin Basturea who arrived in the Big Apple via Bucharest (not to be confused with Budapest) and Miami. I had a chance to meet PR blogger John Cass and even catch up with that other blogger/author/Microsoft savior Bob Scoble.

Walking through Times Square with Rob and Constantin, we started talking about whether Buzz Machine’s Jeff Jarvis had any redeeming impact on the fortunes of Dell Computer. (You may remember Jeff’s relentless trash talking of the world’s largest PC maker following his experience with Dell customer service.) Both Ron and Constantin felt that in spite of the media frenzy Mr. Jarvis catalyzed, the company today thrives. One even opined that all the David & Goliath hype was fueled by bloggers wanting to believe.

Personally, I thought the evolution of that story was not much different than what happened to Intel during the great Pentium flaw debacle more than a decade ago. The whispers of a flaw started in newsgroups, migrated to EE Times, and then to the late Steve Young of CNN who splashed it into the mainstream media, precipitating a full-blown crisis for Andy Grove and company. Intel’s stock price/market cap took a nosedive. And Dell’s stock?

Question of the Day: can it be considered a PR “crisis” if the mainstream media remain on the sidelines during a viral maelstrom?