A strange persona entered and shook up the PR world (at least the part that is online and blogging) rather recently. Strumpette, a blog written by one Amanda Chapel, has inspired a great deal of vitriol from online PR folks such as Steve Rubel, fellow Edel-ite Phil Gomes, the young and ambitious Flackette and even Shel Holtz. A strange site to see, as most PR bloggers are rarely critical of the industry and are genuinely giddy about the power of blogging. But when faced with Strumpette in March, they quickly switched into an attack mode.

The overall response to this particular blog is 180 degrees from what was received by the blogger formerly known as Anonymous Lawyer. Anonymous Lawyer turned out to be a 3L at Harvard Law School with a gift for writing well enough for people to wish he were real.

Amanda Chapel,a.k.a Strumpette, on the other hand, receives constant criticism from industry heads such as Media Orchard’s Scott Baradell who wrote that Strumpette was “pompous and condescending”, “dishonest” and “purposely hurtful to others”because she doesn’t respect the public relations industry enough. (Ironically, the most popular and entertaining blogs necessarily fit the qualities Baradell uses to describe Strumpette. I, for one, am a Denton-media addict and could not do without my daily cup of cynicism.)

Strumpette is frequently critical of the public relations industry. Posts typically point to the problems the industry regularly faces, such as overbilling and controversial clientele or programs. Chapel is also a bit snarky and irreverent (in the classic blogger way), and also creates some mischief that, while mean-spirited, is nothing new in the practice of blogging. In fact, Edelman’s Rick Murray and Steve Rubel were initially so alarmed by Strumpette, that they posted (very long) comments to Chapel’s blog, attempting to turn their critical foe into a more neutral friend.(Steve Rubel should have been flattered; being made fun of by Strumpette means you’ve really made it.) When that didn’t work, the Edel-bloggers tried to fight fire with fire, which was even stranger, since Amanda says in her blog that she is “just a character”, although her character is reminiscent of the one portrayed by Heather Locklear on Melrose Place (her bio bluntly boasts of a promiscuous nature which she sometimes taps into when bantering or shocking commenters and readers). Whether it is actually true or not is irrelevant to the criticism she posts: Amanda is a character, an anonymous one, who has fun with her readers at the expense of the public relations industry. It just seemed that most PR bloggers could not handle the occassional slam that most white collar professions (including banking, law and medicine) receive.

Strumpette’s readers are a mixed bag. She tends to make some of them laugh and others, those who are incredibly angry, can’t seem to stop themselves from reading her blog or commenting. The anger, interestingly enough, seems to stem from how she illustrates her career to date; she claims that her bawdy escapades with clients (which she never really describes) are responsible for advancing her career. (You can imagine how an industry dominated by a mostly female workforce would feel after reading that.)

I imagine most readers (and even Strumpette herself) aren’t certain what to make of Edelman’s online counselors handling of the blog. They attempted to unmask the blogger (to no avail, though even unmasking her does not hide the fact that from her writing, it is evident that she has worked/does work in the industry.) Other PR bloggers have joined Rubel, Murray and Gomes in order to try to discredit her. Yet the purpose of going after Strumpette remains completely unclear.

The PR industry has faced its fair share of criticism. Furthermore, it’s unlikely that Strumpette, an anonymous character, will take down the entire industry or call any major bluffs that PR people haven’t already faced. Or maybe he/she/it will. Either way, it’s made Strumpette extremely popular on the web. Maybe Strumpette is proof that any kind of publicity works wonders, especially online.