Saturday, July 15, 2006

Full Transcript of Dana Gardner’s BriefingsDirect Podcast on the 20th Anniversary of High-Tech PR Firm Lois Paul & Partners

The following is a transcript of BriefingsDirect[TM] podcast with Dana Gardner, recorded June 26, 2006. Podcast sponsor: Interarbor Solutions.

Listen to the podcast here.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect. Today a bit of an anniversary party; we're looking back on the technology PR industry over the past 20 years, and using the 20th anniversary of Lois Paul & Partners as our milestone. Joining us on the call are the founder and president of Lois Paul & Partners, Lois Paul. Hi, Lois!

Lois Paul: Hi, Dana, how are you?

Gardner:
I’m great. Thanks for coming along. Also joining us today is Chris Shipley, she is the co-founder of Guidewire Group and the executive producer of the DEMO Conferences. Welcome to the show, Chris.

Chris Shipley:
I'm very glad to be here.

Gardner:
Our trip down memory lane also includes Dean Goodermote, the CEO of Double-Take Software, welcome to the show, Dean.

Dean Goodermote:
Hi, Dana, thanks.

Gardner: We're here to discuss how the IT PR industry has changed. We're in such a dynamic period here, 20 years in. I don't think we can consider this a mature industry by any stretch. Lois, why don't you tell us a little bit about what it was like 20 years ago, and what prompted you to get into this business and to go out on your own?

Paul:
Sure, Dana. It was kind of an interesting and difficult decision for me way back in 1986. I was still at PCWeek then, it hadn’t changed to eWeek, and I wasn't that crazy about public relations. But some of the good ones that I had worked with, good PR people, included Dick McGlinchy, who is a really, really good PR person. He was forming his own agency, and there wasn't a lot of expertise in terms of high-tech PR. There weren’t very many specialists. So, we decided to try to put something together so that it could be the kind of agency we might want to hire. I could bring in elements that would [make it the] type of agency I would like to get the phone calls from as a reporter. That was sort of the genesis of it.

Gardner: And this would have been the summer of 1986.

Paul: Yes.

Gardner:
That was the time when the PC revolution was well under way, and you decided it was time to splinter off and make a high-tech-focused PR agency, because, I suppose, being knowledgeable about the subject is pretty important?

Paul:
Yeah, we really felt that it was what was needed at the time. To be honest, it was taking a long time for publications to really be addressing some of the changes. I was getting a little frustrated with that as well. With the agency we thought that we could put something together that would be a news-bureau type of approach to public relations, which would bring something a lot better than some of the bad practices I had seen.

Gardner:
To get some perspective, this was back when breaking news was considered a weekly publication. Many publications had long lead times because they were monthlies, and the news releases still went via snail mail.

Paul:
Yes, when we first started the agency -- just to give you perspective -- we had no voice mail at all. As a matter of fact, we fought voice mail for years because we felt that "high touch" was much more important for our kind of service. Even email was still pretty early-stage. And, yes, the fax machine was probably the most important machine in our office at the time. You would fax things to people as well as mail to them.

Gardner: Now you go back ways with our guests, Chris Shipley and Dean Goodermote. Who did you know first and how did they relate to your going out on your own back in '86?

Paul:
I have known Chris longer, because actually Chris worked for me at PCWeek, which was great. Chris was one of the great hires I made over the years, and Chris joined us right out of college, which was wonderful. It's been really fun watching her career develop. That’s just one of the things that’s been most fun about my spot in the industry.

Gardner:
And this was in the Boston area, which at that time the hot seat of IT, right?

Goodermote:
Still is.

Paul: Dean, you are exactly right. I was trying to think in terms of the first clients we had, and two of our three first clients were on the West Coast. But we were servicing them from the East Coast because there just weren’t as many specialists. We were full-service as well at the time, so we were doing advertising as well for some of these companies.

Gardner:
And tell me how did Dean first intersect with Lois Paul & Partners?

Paul: Well. I was trying to think about that. Dean and I go way back. I believe I can cite that it was when we first started working with Lotus in 1991. I was working with Jim Manzi, the CEO, on an interview with a profile that Glenn Rifkin wanted to do for The New York Times. Glenn had asked for people who knew Jim well, and Jim suggested Dean. I didn't know Dean at the time, even though it turns out that Dean lives five minutes from my house.

And, of course, being a skeptical PR person and former journalist, I said, “Has he dealt much with the media?” Jim said, “Well we could do a call together so you get a sense.” I wanted to screen Dean on this. It was one of the funniest calls, the three-way call, having both Jim Manzi and Dean Goodermote, was just tremendous. And it was really fun for me when I got to work with Dean afterward.

Gardner:
Dean, do you recall the call?

Goodermote:
I do now. And I didn't before. And you know what I don't remember -- did Glenn mention me? I am not sure if he did. I don't recall.

Paul: But he did interview you.

Goodermote:
I know he did interview me after that for some other things too.

Paul: And I think I did tell you that, “Well, he didn't know enough about you because you needed a different PR agency.”

Goodermote: That’s right! And I wanted to work with you, because you were really cool, because you worked with Lotus ... Because then we hired you.

Paul: Right.

Goodermote: At what’s now MRO Software.

Gardner:
What were you looking for in a PR agency at that time?

Goodermote: I think sort of the same thing as now. You're known, in part, by the company you keep. I think I was looking for credibility and prestige. I thought of that firm, and I still do, as a very credible prestigious firm in its own right. So, I was just looking for help from what I thought was the best institution around -- and at that time Lotus was probably the number-one software company in the country. And that probably had a lot to do with it. The people over there, including Jim, were good friends of mine. I had seen the work that [LP&P] had done, and got to know Lois a bit.

Gardner:
That does raise an interesting question. How was it that you started out on a fairly new path, which was a differentiation in PR by taking on a vertical industry, and being new as a start-up and not from a PR background but from a journalism background, and then land the marquis software company in the world? How did you do that?

Paul:
It’s an interesting story.

Shipley:
Because she is very good it turns out.

Paul:
So much of it is one thing that’s the same now than it was 20 years ago. It's about relationships. It's credibility. At the end of the day you can deliver, but it all comes back to relationships. Dick was extremely well known in the industry. I was well known as a journalist, but Dick was very well known out and about among the marketing community.

He had some great colleagues in John Landry and Bob Weiler who were one of our first clients at Distribution Management Systems and he had worked with them at McCormack & Dodge. They had moved, at least one of them had moved. Bob Weiler at the time had moved to Lotus and so that was our ability to get in the door or least have a conversation when Lotus was considering making a change. Then, as it turned out, my journalism background struck a chord with Jim Manzi, who is also a former journalist. And so it was the combination of the two of us, we had a great team. Bill McLaughlin led the Lotus team which had to grow tremendously overnight. It was a huge, huge undertaking for us and we did good work -- and we did it for 10 years.

Shipley:
… I stayed behind, it was sad to lose a great mentor at PCWeek. I think in the long run that I am really delighted that Lois was able to start this firm and really have such a positive impact on tech PR.

In the early- to mid-80s, PR was about flooding you with out-of-context calls and press releases, and this barrage of paper mail. It was great knowing that you knew when you picked up the phone, and Lois and one of her colleagues was on the phone, you were going to get a straight story. It was going to be relevant to what you were thinking about and working on. You knew that that was a call well worth taking. And that was rare in those days. I think she raised the bar for a lot of other agencies to have to follow.

Gardner:
I'm a bit of a latecomer. I didn’t get into the IT press until 1988, when I was a news editor for a trade publication. Time is always of the essence, whether you are an editor or a reporter, and one of the things that was greatly frustrating to me was getting on the phone with someone who had pitched you on something, and you had a very basic follow-up question -- simply trying to triage whether this was worthwhile -- and then to which reporter to potentially assign it to. You would ask a very direct question -- what does this technology do -- and a lot of the time they just could not come up with an answer.

Shipley:
They couldn't answer if you would say something like, is this software or hardware? Sometimes, they couldn't answer. I know it used to drive me crazy.

Gardner:
I suppose the biggest issue for [LP&P] as a company would have been the transition from Lotus as a spreadsheet, word-processing, and productivity applications company to this much larger category that they invented really -- groupware. Tell us a little bit about this major shift in the market from productivity applications to groupware?

Paul:
That was actually the catalyst for making the change at the time. The company was really shifting dramatically to this much different [category]. That's when they brought us on. They were just getting ready to launch Lotus Notes, and it was important for them to have a different approach to taking that out to the marketplace.

It was huge, because the cash cow of the company was still the spreadsheet applications and the other applications, which then ended up becoming SmartSuite. And, for a long time, although the future of the company was heading toward groupware, the money was coming in with the applications.

So, it made for a lot of complication in terms of how you told the story externally, because you could not short-shrift those all-important applications. They were up against a monster like Microsoft, a voracious competitor. But at the same time, the future opportunities for Lotus in a strategic direction was inventing a new category and establishing that.

They didn’t like the term "groupware," but it ended up sticking, because none of the alternatives really were resonating. That was the situation. They created a category, and it was dubbed "groupware," and it stayed that way. And, Microsoft could not kill Notes.

Gardner:
Now, for the edification of some of our younger listeners, the match up between Lotus and your organization and Microsoft with Waggoner Edstrom in the mid- to late-'80s was a gargantuan clash of titans. It was like what we see today between, say, Google and Microsoft or Google and Yahoo. It was a very big deal. There's not just a little bit of irony that Ray Ozzie, who is now the chief software architect at Microsoft, was probably one of the key competitive advantages that Lotus had in making that transition. Tell us perhaps, if you remember, the first time you met Ray, and what he brought to the table in terms of groupware?

Paul:
Sure. Ray was more behind the scenes from a public relations standpoint. It’s not what he liked to do. He is a brilliant visionary and technologist, and he is very customer-focused. He really listens to what customers are looking for, and he thinks ahead of what they need next. But he never really liked all the trappings of public relations.

Actually, the person who had the best relationship with Ray was the person who is working with him now, interestingly enough, Richard Eckel, who is now working with Ray as part of Microsoft, because they acquired Ray's company [Groove Networks], which Richard was working at. Back then, Richard was sort of the connector into Ray.

When I would see Ray in meetings, even though he was reluctant, he was always brilliant. And I remember taking Jim Manzi and Ray to the PC Magazine award’s dinner where they won the Person of the Year Award at a Fall Comdex. It was a black tie event, and we talked them into going to the parties before this event. So, we went to the Spencer Katt party and then the Shadow RAM party for the publications. Ray hung with us through the Spencer Katt party. We got him through that one. There was almost a very interesting encounter with [then Borland International CEO] Philippe Kahn that we managed to side-step. Do you remember that one, Chris?

Shipley:
It was always an interesting encounter when you ran into Philippe.

Paul:
Well, Richard and I practically had to be bodyguards for that one; it was kind of interesting. It almost came to blows, but it didn’t. But then next we are going ahead to Shadow RAM from one or the other. With Ray, you could just see it was totally against his grain, and he just quietly disappeared. So, it’s interesting to see how much he is doing now in his new position [at Microsoft], because it’s just not something that comes naturally to him or something he enjoys.

Gardner:
Another thing that was very big in those days, if I recall, was that PCWeek, lived, ate, and drank scoops. The scoops were everything for the reporters and the editors. You wanted to get that Page 1, across-the-top story that no one else had, and that might have only been a week ahead of everyone, but it was such a big deal. I have competed against PCWeek, and you guys were the best.

Looking back before [today’s] real-time, everything-comes-out-within-an-hour and then-the-blogger-gets-it-first kind of environment we are in now -- looking back on those weekly cycles, it seems to me that there was a very tender balance you had to make between letting a scoop get out to one publication, without completely pissing off everyone else in the business. How do you give the scoop to one without ruining your relationship with the others? That was really sort of the power brokering position you were in.

Paul:
It’s really hard. I remember one announcement that we made with Lotus, Bryan Simmons was in charge of corporate communications at the time, and it was tough because he needed The Wall Street Journal to cover this. It was extremely important for a variety of reasons as a public company that the Journal would do this. And, of course, the Journal wants to get it early.

So, Bryan had to cut whatever deal he had to cut, and I remember, PCWeek in particular – [then news editor] John Dodge was very upset, understandably so. And because that publication was competing not only with the other tech pubs that were weeklies, but they felt very much, they were competing with The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and the other business pubs.

So, we knew we were in the penalty box for a while, and that’s something now as PR people we have to consider. We'll talk it over with. If we're doing an announcement for Dean’s company, for example, we have to take a look at what the impact's going to be. If you feel you absolutely have to make some exceptions because you need to be in a certain publication, we know that it’s tough for the other pubs to deal with that.

Shipley:
Also, remember that at that time, the publications, as you yourself mentioned, were much more competitive. And the coverage of technology in mainstream business publications was much more than it is today. So, getting a scoop -- whether it was given or as we at PCWeek liked to believe, we actually went out and found them ourselves -- that made or broke our reputations with the publication, with our readership, with our advertising community. So, these times have changed quite a bit now. There's less competition in the marketplace, unfortunately, because I think it made for a really exciting time in journalism and in the tech industry.

Paul: I’ll tell you -- I don’t know how Chris and Dean feel about it -- but I do think there is more context now for announcements. Reporters are definitely telling us, "Don’t just give us announcements; we want to understand how it fits in with strategy." I think that’s a good direction, more of the analysis. Whereas before, it absolutely was, "I need a scoop, I need the new product."

Shipley: If you think of an even longer run than the 20 years since you have founded Lois Paul & Partners, in the 10 years prior to that, the industry was a lot about [vendors], and the trade publications sort of took what was said to them. Many of those publications were much more advertising-supported.

Then PCWeek and the publications that grew up in the mid-'80s established this journalist approach to the [IT] marketplace and brought much more credibility and much more integrity then we had seen in trade publishing for a long time. Today, we have armchair quarterbacks and analysts everywhere, and I think the really good publications are the ones that are putting this massive amount of data into some sort of context. And you are right, I think this analysis is much more important to the marketplace today than just getting the news out as it was 15 to 20 years ago.

Goodermote:
[IT] is a huge industry now. I first started in the early '80s, and it was almost cool to be in this business. And I think there was a period where we lapsed back into that during the late '90s. That was when you could get anything out just because it was cool. And, I think now [IT] is a major part of the U.S. economy. It’s a huge part of Boston. It’s a huge part of Silicon Valley, Austin or wherever else. Which is to say we're not special anymore. We are just like the oil industry. So, I don’t think we can get away with being cool anymore. I know I can't.

Paul: Well, he didn't tell you, though, that he plays bass in their company band. Company bands are back, you know. It’s another sign.

Gardner: I think there was also a sense of revolution, the PC revolution. And that was probably typified by the famous Apple Computer commercial with the big hammer coming down. There were the mainframes and the minis and the server-based computers that were typified by IBM and Digital Equipment Corp. Then, there were these upstarts and hippies who would come out with these PCs. And you sort of rode that.

Now, we are kind of in a different world, where to be hip and revolutionary and cool is really about being Web 2.0 and, interestingly, it's sitting on a server somewhere. And so, the role of the PC in being cutting-edge and innovative is really not in the same category. It has sort of gone off to the sidelines, and it’s the Internet and what you can do with interfaces and mash ups and real-time online publishing and rich content that seems to be the new revolution. Any reaction to that, Lois?

Paul: With our client base, we have always had clients that are more in the infrastructure rather than consumer-related technologies, and we have a mix now, but it’s always been more [about representing] the complex technology. What we have done, what our clients are doing, is enabling the changes. As Dean said, technology has become much more of a part of the economy, and is changing people’s day-to-day lives and the way business works.

I do think that’s what we're seeing more and more with our clients, [the Internet] and I think that’s what’s interesting, because it’s how you can get things to work. It’s how you can add to the productivity of your day or make things easier for you in the incredible pace people are living at now. That’s what’s important about technology, not technology for technology’s sake.

Gardner:
And I suppose you can legitimately take on a “mission-accomplished” sort of a feeling of success, because if we didn’t have a PC on every desktop, and if the PC revolution didn’t really happen, then the Internet revolution wouldn't have happened and there wouldn't have been the network nodes. So it’s sort of that the Internet is riding on the shoulders of giants, and the companies that you were representing and the work you were doing in the 80s and early 90s were those giants.

Goodermote: And, remember, you were working with us in the early 90s and that’s why we were giants.

Paul: That’s right, exactly. I was just going to say, you and I need to retire now.

Goodermote:
Right. My shoulders are hurting.

Gardner:
While we are on the subject of retirement, what does the future portend for Lois Paul & Partners, and how do you see this business changing? It seems like the whole notion now is “return on influence.” How do we get the viral snowball to start gathering speed and volume in the blogosphere, and then in the mainstream media? That seems to be the new goal.

Paul:
It's something we are very much working with now, exploring. Some of our clients are more ready to take advantage of it than others. But I do think that things are changing rapidly.

I just see that as the way our company has always been -- and Bill McLaughlin has said this frequently -- that we reinvent ourselves every several years. I think we are in one of those transitional phases right now. I feel good that we have the 20-year mark behind us. We survived the downturn. We are intact. We are part of the Fleishman-Hillard and Omnicom Group family of agencies, and we are taking advantage of those connections, especially to expand internationally, in terms of our ability to serve our clients.

But there are great opportunities for us. That keeps it interesting, because we have a great group of people who have been in the industry for 20 years, like myself, and the people have only been in the industry 5, 10 or 15 years. They are all bringing these new ideas in. So, they’re constantly at my door reaching into the candy drawer in my desk, and one of them is constantly lobbying me. Kari Hanson is determined that we need to be doing new-era public relations, and that’s a good thing. She is influencing the various elements that we are adding.

Gardner:
Do you think even the term "public relations" is now out of date? It seems like marketing plays a role -- that viral plays a role; analyst relations kicks in. Do you think PR is not the right way to look at it?

Paul: PR is always hard to define. It’s been hard to define. At the same time, just as when you are a product company, people have to put you into some sort of bucket. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been one that’s been able to substitute [for PR]. We’ve really said that we’ll provide strategic communications, and then the programs that go underneath those. And those can include media relations, analyst relations, financial communications, crisis communications. But it's hard, it is changing, and it’s changing rapidly. At the same time, we are seeing that the basic elements of it are becoming even more critical, because as you say, influencing and positioning yourself is really, really critical as the marketplace is heating up again.

Gardner:
It also seems that the role of what is almost derogatorily referred to as "mainstream media" is under some pressure. That is to say, individuals or companies themselves are in the role now of publishing, and they need to maintain credibility and influence in doing so, in going direct to their audiences, or more commonly, to communities.

These are developers, users, or affinity groups that are considered either a lifestyle tie or work-a-day tie to a culture. Any thoughts from Dean or Chris as to whether a PR role is what's needed, or should this be something else? Or is this something that should be an internal core competency within many companies?

Goodermote:
I don’t know. Having been around Lois for so long, I’d still look for Lois and her colleagues. Usually some junior person sort of tells me now, because I can get out of touch. Maybe it's different and maybe it's really not public relations as it used to be, but you are still looking to influence buyers ultimately. I think that does change. I think it’s changed a lot and even if it’s supposed to come internally, I think even the agencies can even guide you how to do that, who to go to.

Shipley:
You know, what I have to say: There is a lot of pressure to try and to grab on to these new ideas in non-traditional marketing efforts or public relations or direct-to-customer communications. All that still requires as much strategy, and certainly you want some of that expertise in-house, but I think you seek out strategists who can help you deliver that message. That doesn’t change when the media changes. It’s a constant in that being able to communicate effectively with the marketplace is what drives business success.

Goodermote:
I do remember having this debate. We were in the late '80s, and we were doing PR internally. There was a period where I think it was sort of the up-and-coming wisdom, that you should do PR internally. Am I right or not?

Paul:
Yeah.

Shipley:
Yup.

Goodermote:
It was the function you should have in-house. Marketing maybe should be out of house or other parts of marketing communications, but that part should be in-house. And we did that for a while, and I think it was after that that we hired you, Lois.

Gardner:
How do you effectively work within that decision process -- inside or outside, Lois?

Paul: That’s something where we understand that in order for us to make sense for you to use an agency, we have got to deliver a multiple on whatever you are spending with us, because you should not only be getting the benefit of the team that you have, but you should be getting the benefit of everybody’s connections at the agency.

We should be able to do things for you more quickly. We should be able to get the doors opened faster, and you also have the ability to tap people like myself who have got great connections, as well as the rest of the team. So, at the end of the day, the best combination, if you can do it, if you are at the right size, is to have an internal person who knows the workings of your company inside and out, who can then partner with the appropriate-size agency team. Then, you get the best of both worlds. We have done it in a variety of ways.

Gardner:
And, I suppose if what you say is true, that it’s really ultimately based on relationships and having the advantage of being sort of a layer above the organization, the company, the client -- maybe that gives you better opportunity to create extended relationships.

Paul: It does, and also, to be honest, sometimes our clients need to bring us in because we can be the sanity check. We can be the person that, even though they already know what the right answer is, for whatever reason, their executives might not be hearing it from someone who is inside the company. When that’s amplified by an external consultant, it could make all the difference. So, sometimes we play that role.

Gardner:
Right, okay. Do you have any juicy tidbits for us looking back on 20 years, some name-dropping, something that perhaps has not come out in public, but with the turning of the clock is probably something that can now come out? I mean, something along the lines of who’s Deep Throat -- that sort of thing.

Shipley:
There are certainly a lot of good stories. We certainly had our sources at PCWeek. But what we also had was a tremendous amount of fun covering this industry. And once in a while, a couple of executives had some fun watching us chase down false leads. So, it was a time when there was actually not only competitiveness among the papers, but also a bit of competitiveness in the spirit of the relationship between press and PR, and between the companies that were being covered.

Gardner: It was a little bit more fun back then, wasn’t it?

Paul: It was a little crazy. I mean, it was fun. I remember things like when Ed Scannell was at Computerworld, and I remember Ed cornering Bill Gates, who had just done a keynote at Comdex. And he would do the basic reporter trick, which is not ask your question during a press conference, but try to button-hole somebody afterward.

I just remember watching that. He and I were colleagues at the time. There used to be more of that sort of thing. We were going to be the Edward R. Murrows of the computer industry and go after people. There is some of that now, too, but there were lot of big personalities to go after then. There was access. There weren’t the entourages.

I remember watching Bill Gates basically running around conferences where he was not the big noise back then. Microsoft was a new company, and he was basically trying to connect then with people. So, it was really fascinating watching as the industry developed. And now he has announced he is going to be moving on to another big change, he is going to be lessening his day-to-day role.

Gardner:
Right -- and managing some of Warren Buffett’s money.

Shipley:
Yeah, he is going to be a little busy.

Gardner: Now another innovation that I think PCWeek didn’t entirely pioneer, but mastered, was their rumor column, Spencer Katt. Of course, the bloggers today, they think they’ve come up with something entirely new. But in many ways, Spencer Katt was a blog …

Shipley:
Sure was.

Gardner:
… and it was a very powerful way of getting the word out anonymously and having a little competitive fun. But also really getting some good communications work done through these vehicles. Do you have any remembrances around the leveraging of the rumor column?

Paul: Sure, I remember the very early days. I don't remember how long it took, but I do remember that legal [departments] basically pulled the plug on paying people for the rumors. Because basically that could have been considered corporate espionage. I forgot what the exact term was, but that was something that was done in the very early days.

Gardner:
How much did they pay?

Paul: I think it was $100 per tip, something like that -- and then they would give T-shirts and I have certainly have some in my drawer.

Gardner: Coffee mugs and whatever, yeah.

Paul: Yeah, they will give coffee mugs or T-shirts, Spencer Katt T-shirts. But in the early days they were actually paying for the tips. Then, they realized, "Wait a minute. You might be encouraging people to basically divulge corporate secrets."

Gardner: And everybody in the business read that.

Paul:
Oh, sure. That and Shadow RAM also, I think, did a great job with their rumor column --- and CRN.

Shipley: I think I have the distinction of being the only person in the industry who has written both Spencer Katt and [InfoWorld’s] Robert X. Cringely. These were some really interesting days. I think one of the things that was so very interesting to me about it as a writer was I was watching this community really want to participate in the story. In some cases, you got the tip because some of them were just not happy that the product they bought wasn't the product they expected or something of this sort. But there was this other overtone of, "I want to be part of the story in some way." That was the thing that I really loved, that those columns took hold and stayed in the market for as long as they did.

Paul:
I was just going through some old emails, because I was trying to write something for a presentation I was giving, and I found some old emails from Mitchell Kertzman when he was our client, when he was the CEO of Powersoft. And one in particular is about the Spencer Katt column. He was particularly excited that he and Powersoft were referenced in the Spencer column because...

Gardner:
He’d made it.

Paul: Yeah, he felt that, "Oh, they are paying attention. Boy, this must be part of the buzz."

Shipley:
We had fun with that column, too. And, let me tell you about the bad, old days when, at the time, the writer of the column was sneaking into suites at Comdex and then placing Spencer Katt’s business card on the pillows of executives who were running these companies. I mean, we were having some fun. So we miss a little bit of that today.

Paul:
It’s become a business process, as Dean said. [IT] has become a big part of the economy now. The fun days are starting to end, and that’s not good. We have to get the fun back.

Shipley: I think at that time we were reinventing everything: what was the PC industry going to be and what was journalism and public relations and the roles of all of these players? I suspect -- with the changes coming down the road -- we'll be re-inventing once again.

Paul: It’s funny though, with blogs and everything, I am still looking at them to make sure that it makes sense. And that I can sort of foresee the future form, because I am always looking at what’s the return going to be for the investment of time for a client. That’s what they are always asking me for. They want to know that if I apply a certain amount of time and resources to something, is it going to really help me in terms of perception in the market place. Is it going to help me drive sales? And so we always have to look at things like that. So, I guess I am still skeptical.

Gardner: So, is it a fad or is it a real new development?

Paul: I think it's a new development, but I guess what I haven't figured out yet is: Is it in its final shape that will provide the value that people need, because it’s still formative.

Gardner: Well, I look forward to our call in 20 years from now on your 40th anniversary so we can look back on that and make a determination.

Paul:
Sounds good, Dana.

Gardner:
Well, congratulations on this milestone, there are not too many things that happen in this industry for 20 years.

Paul: That’s right, and we are all still so young and vibrant -- that’s what’s so great.

Gardner: Well, great. I think we have had a fun time discussing this industry and the changes -- and this is by no means over yet: an ongoing journey. Joining us today for a 20th anniversary discussion about Lois Paul, or is it Lotus Paul and Partners ... has been Lois Paul, the founder and president of LP&P, thanks very much for sharing.

Paul:
Right.

Gardner:
And also Chris Shipley, co-founder of Guidewire Group and the executive producer of the DEMO conferences. Thanks Chris.

Shipley: It’s been a lot of fun. Congratulations Lois on 20 years.

Paul:
Oh, thanks, Chris.

Gardner:
And Dean Goodermote, the CEO of Double-Take Software.

Goodermote: Thank you. Congratulations, Lois.

Paul:
Thanks, Dean.

Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions and you have been listening to a BriefingsDirect podcast. Thanks for listening.

Podcast sponsor: Interarbor Solutions. Listen to the podcast here.

Transcript of Dana Gardner’s BriefingsDirect podcast on the 20th Anniversary of tech PR firm Lois Paul & Partners. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2006. All rights reserved.