9/11 Rewind: Public Relations 10 Years Later… Blogs, Facebook and Twitter?

Bye, Bye Miss American Pie, the day the music died… PR pitching took a respectful pause…and then a fast forward. 

A long, long time ago…
I can still remember
How that media used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those clients dance
And, maybe, they’d be happy for a while.

We all remember where we were when the Twin Towers collapsed. Time stood still. But I will never forget the CEO of one of my dot-com clients calling me just one day after 9/11. He was not calling to find out how I was doing or if any of my relatives or friends were in New York. Instead, Mr. CEO pressed me for an update on the media feedback for an upcoming technology trade show. He wanted to know if I’d heard back from the business and technology reporters we’d been pitching the week before 9/11.

“What about The Wall Street Journal? Are they doing the story?” asked my very desperate former client who was trying to raise money to keep his technology start-up from closing shop.

My response:
“Thousands of people are buried alive in New York and DC and you want to know if the Wall Street Journal called me today about your story?”

Singin’, “this’ll be the day that I die.
“this’ll be the day that I die.”

What in the world was he thinking? Obviously he was not. But back in the “Go! Go!” dot-com bubble days, money on Wall Street was getting harder to win and ‘e’-CEOs were infamous for their hardcore 24/7 pace and mentality.

PR pitching, along with most other business, came to a screeching halt on September 11, 2001 out of unspoken respect for the gut wrenching destruction and loss suffered by the United States. Given the obvious scenarios of what the media should be focused on, it was no surprise nothing was being covered, or even considered, except for 9/11 stories and helping the country pick up the broken pieces.

Now for ten years we’ve been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rollin’ stone

PR pitching post 9/11 seemed empty and meaningless. It was hard to pick up the phone and feel comfortable selling a story to the press when we had so many more important stories to tell. But with tragedy comes new opportunities and insights. I was able to take a step back and find new ways to spin a story using my digital darlings social media and SEO.

September 11th might have torn us apart but we put ourselves back together in a new way. Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and I will be on a plane headed to the Big Apple for SMX East, the Search Marketing Expo where I will be guest blogging for Bruce Clay and teaching the PR side of Facebook on the aimClear Facebook Marketing workshop.

In 2001, the word ‘blogging’ was far from a verb in our vocabulary. Only a handful existed at the time. For example, Blogger.com was started in 1999 and sold to Google in 2003. Today there are more than 165 million public blogs in existence.

Facebook started three years after 9/11 in 2004 and today ranks more than 750 million users.

Blogs and Facebook did not even exist as a PR strategy just 10 years ago and today they are the bread and butter of many successful PR and marketing campaigns.

We didn’t crumble. We survived to re-invent ourselves like the smart material girl and mega marketer Madonna, only better. Let the pitching continue for American Pie.



Did you write the book of love,
And do you have faith in God above,
If the Bible tells you so?
Do you believe in rock ’n roll,
Can music save your mortal soul,
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?

They were singing,
“bye-bye, miss american pie.”
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, “this’ll be the day that I die.”







  1. I had a similar story on 9/11. We were in Omaha for a media tour. I’ll never forget the client saying the media was already there so we should move ahead with the tour…instead of, I don’t know, trying to get people back home to their families. And then, when nothing was covered from the tour, having to explain that it was because everyone was worried about getting home, not about the client’s new product.

    But you’re right…life goes on.


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