Who Is Strumpette?

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 19, 2006; 8:54 AM

She seems to know an awful lot about the public relations industry.

She describes her new blog as "A Naked Journal of the PR Business," and includes a naked (if carefully posed) photo.

She calls herself Strumpette . And plenty of smart people are trying to figure out who she is, especially after reading her bio. Under the name Amanda Chapel, it says: "I have 15 plus years experience in marketing communications . . . I am 5' 4" tall, athletic, Pantene shoulder-length black hair, perfect perky boobs. I present well and am most accomodating. I've slept with clients. I sleep with my boss. I am the consummate PR strumpette."With a mix of industry news, gossip, criticism and sex items, Strumpette.com sprinkles high-toned dissections of the flaws and foibles of the PR business with personal insults and the occasional expletive. Strumpette's posts are quite pugnacious, under such headlines as "PR Mega-Firm's CEO Caught in Big Lie," "Exposing the Communist Blogifesto" and "Word-of-Mouth Marketing: Viagra for the PR Business."

In April, boosted by a mention on Instapundit.com, the site attracted 16,000 unique visitors -- modest by Web standards but not bad for a new site that speaks one industry's language.

A Washington Post investigation (okay, a couple of e-mails) yielded responses from a person claiming to be "Amanda," who said: "We are a little (a lot) shy when it comes to interviews."

We ? She says Strumpette now has four collaborators -- three other women and a "token male." One is a "dear friend," one a "colleague" and the other two she says she met through the blog. But after talking it over with her collaborators, the e-mail says, they have decided to keep their identities secret.

"Amanda" says that she has "very similar credentials" to the character described in the bio -- for example, that she is 5'4" -- and, at the age of 37, that she has about 15 years in the PR business. "Amanda" says there are days when she thinks she is making a difference and "days where it all seems to vain and futile."

"Relative anonymity provides us a platform (brand) where we are able to draw attention to some of the hypocritical issues that presently plague PR," she writes. "That's kind of our focus. It's safe. This shields us from ad hominem arguments which are a mainstay of net discussion . . . Regrettably, that comes without any real depth which by definition constitutes a mob. Mobs like hangins."

Of course, such a stance also allows "Amanda" and her collaborators to slap around people in the business without any accountability.

Brian Connolly, who works for a Chicago communications firm, says that he is close to "Amanda" -- he handles the technology behind the three-month-old site -- and that she is in fact a woman working in the PR biz.

Some online criticism "spooked the hell out of the original Amanda," says Connolly, a self-described "geek." "So there was a conscious effort to have other people write for it." Besides, he says, a blogger needs "frequency, and that's a commitment that overwhelmed her."

Cyberspace clearly has its mysterious side. "Amanda" may not be a real individual, but if she and Connolly are to be believed, she is "real" in the sense that she's a working professional, taking Internet potshots at some big players in her field.

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