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               SNAKE OIL SALESMEN! 
               by Mike Valentine 

               The popular media image of the "PR hack" makes the snake oil 
               salesman look good by comparison. I've spent my entire 
               professional life on the edges of PR, and now find myself in 
               the center promoting my own online ventures and those of 
               web clients as well. 

               As a newspaper photographer, I was often called upon to "make 
               __fill_in_the_blank_here__ LOOK GOOD" even when that was an 
               unlikely prospect. 

               Later, as a magazine photographer, I was often called upon to do 
               the same thing. 

               Again, as an advertising photographer, I have been challenged 
               with making "EVERYTHING look good" because that's what I'm 
               paid to do. The interesting thing is that, more often than not, I 
               become an enthusiastic promoter of those things I've been paid 
               to "make look good". I'm proud to show the photograph of the 
               rivet gun in my portfolio beside the jewelry photo and the wine 
               bottle photo because I was successful in my mission to "make 
               them look good". 

               My point here is that when I believe in a product, I become an 
               admirer and then a promoter. The key seems to be in the honest 
               personal appraisal and true enthusiasm over the subject of the 
               PR. Nobody blelieves you if you don't believe it yourself. This 
               could be one reason why PR directors move so often from one 
               product or subject to the next, because when they lose the 
               enthusiasm for the new product or discover flaws in the service 
               they can do nothing to resolve the suddenly hollow praise. It's 
               time to improve or move. 

               The internet is the same for me. I create something new and 
               innovative and then set about "making it look good" while in 
               the process, if I don't fall in love with the idea or product, 
               I can't honestly praise and promote it. I only get involved 
               with clients that I feel the same way about. If their service 
               or product is just another version of the same ol' widget, I 
               can't go very far in my praise or enthusiasm. 

               How do you feel about your website? Can you honestly talk 
               about it with enthusiasm and promote it with pride? 

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July 16, 2001