Strumpette: In the Beginning

strumpette-logo21Who’s idea was this, anyway?

Turns out, it came from a group of PR practitioners sitting around in Chicago watching March Madness basketball. A few days later they unleashed their own form of madness, calling it “the naked journal of the public relations business,” Strumpette.

Hope you enjoy the first of 17 segments of our exclusive interview with Strumpette co-creator Brian Connolly — one each business day until we’re done. Not one of the clips runs more than 3 minutes, as we’re well aware of attention spans in social media!

We call it the Sledzik-Curran Social Media Project. You may call it anything you’d like.

Tomorrow – Creating the Beast: Background on Strumpette


21 Responses to Strumpette: In the Beginning

  1. Dino Baskovic says:

    I love it.

  2. Bill Sledzik says:

    Thanks Dino. You’re a long-time social media guy — and the person largely responsible for dragging me into the blogosphere. So let me ask you and others:

    Amanda’s anonymity rankled many in social media circles. How did it sit with you?

  3. marc meyer says:

    It never bothered me. Except when the attacks and there were many, not so many these days, got tiring, initially great, but eventually cheap. Amanda’s persona on twitter, much the same as it is on strumpette is the same, though I’m sensing that changing as well-choosing to contribute instead-though I’m curious as to whether the continuous bashing of mack collier is in jest or is there something more there? Again reverting back to the old Amanda and the cynic…

  4. Sabina Tucker says:


    I wil beleive that Strumpette is/was real and legitimate when Amanda Chapel appears on screen and show that she’s a real PR person.

  5. Bill Sledzik says:

    I see your point, Marc. The attacks could be cutting, but most often those under attack played along. Was it out of indignation or to drive blog traffic? I’m not sure.

    Point is, many chose to play Amanda’s game, and some benefited from it. I made this point in my defense of Strumpette: It was like WWF wrestling: It got ugly at times, be we all knew it wasn’t real. Those who wrestled Amanda knew what they were getting into. This is why the anonymity of her writers never bothered me.

  6. somesangs says:

    Dino took the words out of my mouth…love.

    All feelings aside, Strumpette brings valid, critical points to light … in her own special way. Anonymous or not, BC and his team brought a lot to the table others could learn from…others with twisted senses of humor who enjoy a good train wreck now and then.

    Looking forward to the next 16 installments. Maybe I’ll eat my words.

  7. Bill Sledzik says:

    Brian discusses a “trainwreck” in segment #10, Jan. 27. But I think he called it a “cluetrain.” Stay tuned.

  8. David Gilmartin says:


  9. Rob Jewell says:

    Strumpette added a spark and some humor to a profession that takes itself way too seriously. And your integration of tactics — blog posts, Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, most likely something else — really does provide a good look and case study for how you can reach an audience and tell a story these days.

  10. joel says:

    I think Strumpette had the courage to bring certain of the industry’s practices and ill advised moves to light. Like print media, public relations has been under assault from many fronts, and certain of our leaders have been reluctant to address these factors, choosing instead to seek shelter at PRSA conferences and in web site boilerplate no one reads. Many have been holding the industry back by failing to respond to criticisms (from the world at large, which Strumpette only mirrored), by continuing to do dumb things, and by not leading the industry into the 21st century.

    There were many of us who started professional PR blogs three or four years ago, and Strumpette set a standard for talking about substantive PR issues, not SEO or the real meaning of a Facebook poke.

    Brian and others involved with Strumpette are good friends of mine. I admire their intelligence, swift wit, high ethical standards, and willingness to describe the emperor’s clothes as they are. That is not to say that I support all of the attacks they launched or that I agree with all of their tactics, and I am damn glad I was never the recipient of some of their campaigns.

    As for the anonymity, how many times have you mentioned Strumpette and been told “She slept with her clients.” “She’s really a man.” “She’s Brian Connolly.” “She’s Margaret Thatcher.” (OK I have never heard the last one, but feel free to share.) The point is, Strumpette and Brian Connolly are masters of PR. What other PR blogger received so much attention and generated so much enduring buzz?

  11. Bill Sledzik says:

    Joel and Rob: Comments like yours, coming from 2 seasoned PR professionals make me think that maybe I haven’t lost my mind. Rest assured that Brian will touch on a number of key issues facing PR and social media in the days to come. Disclosure: Rob and I are friends and were formerly colleagues here at Kent State.

    And David, thanks for being concise. I’m sure you aren’t alone in your sentiments.

  12. Tom Murphy says:

    Bill, what an interesting project. I can imagine it will create a lot of interest online.

    Mmmm Strumpette, well I am a little conflicted.

    On the one hand we (PR people) sometimes take ourselves a little too seriously, so some balance is probably a good thing.

    However on the other hand, Strumpette was often petty, vindictive and unfair to it’s targets – all while hiding behind it’s secret identity.

    I’ve read comments above that said Strumpette was “real”, “legitimate”, showed “courage”. Please, let’s be honest here… it was none of these things. It was anonymous.

    I hope your interview will cover why Brian denied his alter ego for so long after he was rumbled.

    Well done on an interesting topics I’ll keep tuned in.


  13. […] Sledzik has just published the first of 17 interview shorts with Brian Connolly (pictured right), the creator of Strumpette, […]

  14. Bill Sledzik says:

    Thanks for dropping in, Tom. You highlight the issues that irked so many who were targeted by Amanda. As I said earlier, the anonymity never bothered me. But I didn’t go to Strumpette in search of conversation. I went there to be entertained. Never expected her to chat.

  15. guhmshoo says:

    What’s wrong with hiding behind a secret identity? It’s the only way some people feel comfortable interacting on the Web. Are their opinions any less valid because they don’t use their real name? I say if the content is substantive and thought provoking (and Chapel in most cases offers that), who cares if she’s an anonymous man, woman, goat, or hermit crab. I’m often amazed at how many “real” people (many with huge followings on Twitter) have so little of substance to offer. Perhaps we should be focusing on them instead of Chapel.

  16. Bob Conrad says:

    In general, anonymity is chicken-shit. However, the PR world has flourished under the guise of false niceties thereby creating a space for which Strumpette arose to fill a glowing void.

    PR, if under duress because of this, has only PR to blame.

  17. Bill Sledzik says:

    Some of those “false niceties” you mention are especially prevalent in the PR blogosphere (and now Twitter). I know, because I’ve crossed the line more than a few times when I dared to disagree or criticize — or simply offer an opinion (with no curse words or name calling, mind you). I stay out of many conversations these days because I know this criticism isn’t welcome.

    I worry that PR has devalued critical thinking in what has become a rather blind move toward social media. And in the process the focus has shifted to tactics (away from strategic counseling), which further devalues the profession.

    Unlike our friend Amanda, I love SM, and I teach it. But I do not worship it. A favorite blogger (who gave it up last summer) wrote a great post on this about a year ago. She called it “Why I Won’t Join Your PR Blog Party.” Miss you, Jenn.

  18. lisa rokusek says:

    Bill, you said it so nicely I have to quote you:

    “I worry that PR has devalued critical thinking in what has become a rather blind move toward social media. And in the process the focus has shifted to tactics (away from strategic counseling), which further devalues the profession.”

    I have also crossed some of those lines by asking unwanted questions (without a baseball bat, name calling or profanity) and been blocked on twitter or received a harsh talking down to on blogs. It is amazing to watch the mobs with pitchforks form to attack those who dare dissent. I am not even in PR, but I am in business, and I find it troubling.

    The common lack of critical thinking coupled with a high school popularity contest mentality is troubling. As Carl Sagan says, “When we are self indulgent and uncritical, when we confuse hopes and facts, we slide into pseudoscience and superstition.” Not a place for anything to do with business to be in 2009.

    I do not always agree with Amanda’s tactics and attacks, though there are days I so understand the frustrated place from which she comes, swinging her baseball bat and taking no prisoners.

  19. Jenn Mattern says:

    Miss you too Bill – don’t stop by as often as I should. 😦

    “I’m often amazed at how many “real” people (many with huge followings on Twitter) have so little of substance to offer. Perhaps we should be focusing on them instead of Chapel.”

    I have to completely agree with you on this one, especially in the PR niche of the blogosphere. People are too worried far too often about what other people are going to think about them. They’re worried about offending colleagues. They’re worried about offending employers or prospective employers. They’re worried about turning off potential clients.

    Honesty and transparency are the price paid to feel secure, and some of the most interesting discussions and debates I’ve seen and had have been handled in private because of that, when they would have added an enormous amount of value to the public sphere.

    If anonymity lets more in the profession be honest and be more willing to tackle the difficult issues, then I’d rather read a dozen anonymous PR blogs than even one covering the same rehashed SM fanboy crap anymore. Like Bill said, we have too many people talking tactics and not enough folks with anything more substantive to say.

  20. Bill Sledzik says:

    Great that I could draw you out, Jenn. And great to see you haven’t lost your edge. But I will have to clarify. That great quote you mention comes from Guhmshoo, another critic of social media, but one who uses cartoons to poke fun at the Web 2.0 culture. Oh, yeah. He also does it anonymously.

  21. guhmshoo says:

    Thanks for the attribution Bill. As the Talented Mr. Ripley once said: “I’d rather be a fake somebody than a real nobody.”

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