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April 24, 2010


Marc Ross

I have a few questions and thoughts on today's WP article and this post.

Would linking to your LinkedIn account suffice and meet the WOMMA code?
As Twitter provides a website for you to link to - I have provided a link to my LinkedIn profile which provides all the professional information anyone would ever want to know about me and my background - this should suffice and meet any transparency requirements.

Isn't advocacy today really a lifestyle?
The line between work and life are completing shattered today - thus so has being an advocate and where one advocates.

What classifies as lobbying and advocacy? Does one need to receive compensation to be classified as a lobbyist or advocate? Don't celebrities have more power than the normal citizens on the political process. Just today Kim Kardashian tweeted about the American Genocide - does this require transparency or regulation? (@kimkardashian - http://twitpic.com/1i1e6b - What do u know about the Armenian Genocide? Recognize #ArmenianGenocide)

Aren't these codes and regulations an attempt to further professionalize public relations as well as place more burdens and restrictions on free speech?

As many in DC know, yesterday's lobbyists are today's strategists - by attempting to register lobbyists, advocates have simply changed their titles as a way to escape more paperwork and forms.

Let speech be free and let the marketplace sort it out. People are pretty smart and adding more codes and regulations seems like a silly way to add more "transparency" as a means to protect people from being tricked or swindled.

What I am really hearing from this article and post is that communications should be left to the classic news institutions and professionals - the rise of amateur reporters and thought leaders is a dangerous development which needs to be properly regulated.

Fortunately for free speech and two-way communications, these added regulations and codes won't be easy for the old, big institutions to execute and maintain.

Thankfully, communications and advocacy has moved from the cathedral to the bazaar.

Pierre-Loic Assayag

Excellent observations. I'd even go one step further: social media economics also advocate for full disclosure.

People who value their audience and reputation have a strong economic incentive not to deceive.


Pierre-Loic is correct, social media itself demands this transparency and authenticity. Lobbying is marketing (& thus should follow WOMMA Guidelines) and social media allows anyone to be an advocate (i.e. lobby) for their cause, but once material connections - read payment for voice - between a cause and a person (even with an agency in between) that disclosure is even more important.

I don't believe that the WP article or this post advocates for the re-professionalization of journalism, PR, lobbying, etc. I believe they say that now that anyone can have a powerful voice, disclosure of material connections is even more important.

Case in point: my twitter profile (@bfholmes) bio says that I am an online strategist for AH&A (a direct marketing firm) and links to my Google profile (which has lots of links including my employer) so when people click through to see just who is tweeting they know I am a "professional" even if the specific cause I'm advocating at that moment isn't one of my clients.

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