The Owyang blunder: a phallic typewriter gets castrated - Dooley PR

What a blunder. What a perfect case study in what NOT to post to your professional blog. Yesterday, Jeremiah Owyang, a senior Forrester Research analyst, posted an item that attacked Mzinga, a company he follows.

Gah, it’s painful stuff to read. It’s clear within the first two sentences that this is a post that should never have been published. Relying on hearsay, this respected social media industry analyst hints that Mzinga is a shaky company on the verge of falling apart.

He never lays out the evidence of the company’s failings – surely there must be something bad – because he says he doesn’t want to start rumours. Yet he succeeds in doing only that by dealing solely with innuendo… and then, in a rhetorical flourish that only a self-important analyst could write: I strongly recommend that any Mzinga clients or prospects stall any additional movement till they brief me next Monday.

Really? I mean, really? Lawyers, start your engines.

The blog post blazed a fast and broad trail through the Twitterverse and the comments that followed the original post correctly blasted Owyang. It was an irresponsible post made without much, if any, forethought. Owyang responded quickly, to his credit, but with only a weak apology.

There are times in everyone’s professional life when you want to strike out publicly at a client, or a vendor or a rival. In almost every case, it’s best to keep your mouth shut at least until you have all the information (and often afterward too).

Maybe he was frustrated with a perceived lack of response from the company and he wanted to use his bully post to whip the company into line. That’s something my first journalism instructor Mack Laing called the phallic typewriter syndrome. Maybe Owyang was tired and wasn’t thinking clearly. Or maybe he was just plain sloppy.

Always take care in what you write and how you write it.

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