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Old 08-15-2004   #1
Joseph Morin
 
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SEMPO Needs Breathing Room Articles

In this article written by Christine Churchill an unofficial response from a SEMPO Board Member is made to Mike Grehan. The interesting twist is that Christine is Mike's Associate Editor of E-Marketing News as well as a friend and SEMPO Board member.

Last edited by Joseph Morin : 08-15-2004 at 03:51 PM. Reason: Clarification
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Old 08-15-2004   #2
hiero
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What are the benefits to SEMPO???? Unfortunately I don't see them.

Well.......after reading both of the referenced articles in this post I gotta say I'm still where I was before. I don't see why joining SEMPO would be advantageous to my business. I still can't see an answer to my question which is "what have you done for me lately?". I don't see the "Win/Win" relationship that I would expect to have with SEMPO.

I posed the question in another thread for someone to explain what SEMPO had done for them lately and I received one response. Not exactly what I was looking for.
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Old 08-15-2004   #3
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>I don't see why joining SEMPO would be advantageous to my business

This outlines a big issue. If SEMPO remains a 501 (c) (6) the answer is basically - nothing. The idea of a non-profit is to benifit the industry as a whole, not the individual members.

You should want to join out of the goodness of your heart and your keen interest in the advancment of the industry.

The problem is from where I sit that doesn't seem to be what the members want. Or most of the non-members, either.

My opinion,

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Old 08-15-2004   #4
hiero
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Post

Quote:
You should want to join out of the goodness of your heart and your keen interest in the advancment of the industry.
I understand what you mean, but if I did that for everything I'd be broke by now.

After going to the inaugural SEMPO meeting and listening to their media hyped presentation I walked away asking myself why I thought they were so self promoting. I would like to see organizations such as this help their membership.
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Old 08-15-2004   #5
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Hi Joseph, Are you posting that article because you thought it was good? What did it tell us that is any different?

Quote:
I also think that the vast majority of the current members haven't given up either. My dear friend Barry Lloyd whom Mike quoted as saying "I gave them $5000, what more support do they need?" will be the first to tell you he is renewing his SEMPO membership. He landed his biggest contract ever partly because he was a member of a professional industry organization. Congratulations Barry!
Are you kidding me Christine? Is this what you think SEMPO is all about and should be about? Is this the message you wish to give ALL potential SEO clients out there?

If it is, then SEMPO does NOT get it. My gawd Christine, of all people, I thought you would at least "get it".

I was very wrong.

If SEMPO is going to simply do business as normal, then you best start VETTING your members. Vet current members AND new members. If you are going to keep advertising your members and also keep saying that IF you are a SEMPO member you must be "BETTER" than everyone else, then you better do the darn research of the current members first.

You will have a lawsuit on your hands if you don't.

You may have a lawsuit on your hands sooner than that if SEMPO insists on misleading the public about the members of SEMPO.

Of course, this has nothing to do with Barry. He knows what I mean by this post.

I'm pissed off.
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Old 08-15-2004   #6
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http://www.sempo.org/about-sempo.php

The major points all forums have including this one is that board members promote themselves and allow members to promote themselves using the SEMPO membership.

That's against the law. Period.

But yet, we still see links. Nothing has changed. Christine did not answer any single question asked in here. All that article was meant to do is to tell people how great they MUST be because they are a sempo member, and others will think they are great as well.

That's the promotion of the membership. That's illegal.
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Old 08-15-2004   #7
Jill Whalen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ihelpyou
Are you kidding me Christine? Is this what you think SEMPO is all about and should be about? Is this the message you wish to give ALL potential SEO clients out there?

If it is, then SEMPO does NOT get it. My gawd Christine, of all people, I thought you would at least "get it".
Hey Doug,

Lay off Christine. You have no idea how hard she's worked to keep SEMPO on the right track and in fact, to do many of the things you yourself would want to do. She IS the voice on the board of the people like you and your concerns.

And if you're upset by SEMPO, why should they care? They have 250 or whatever members that they need to answer to, not you.

If you've read my other posts about SEMPO, I have no allegience to them. They've made a ton of mistakes and seem to be continuing to do so. However, one of the few GOOD things about SEMPO is that Chris is on the board. If she goes (as I would have done in her place) then I would be really concerned for their future direction. With Christine there, they may actually have a chance.

Just my two cents.
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Old 08-16-2004   #8
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Honestly, SEMPO is an organization without a mission or a vision. Barbara Coll signed on to promote herself, but she has no idea where she wants to see this thing go or how to get there... just keep getting speaking gigs and recognition for herself.

At the meeting in Boston last year, people kept saying, "Why should I join SEMPO?" and Barbara's candid answer was, "to make more money". She said the same basic thing at the used car sale, I mean kick-off meeting in San Jose. She's never hidden the fact that she thinks SEMPO is a way for large firms to increase their share of the marketing pie. She has never thought SEMPO should support the small business or have any other goal than raising the average fee for large SEO's. If you thought something different, you made it up yourself because she never said it.

I don't know if the others have ideas, goals, or visions; if they do they aren't speaking up. It was nice to see someone on the board own up to the fact that they've floundered, made mistakes, and are going to move foreward. I thought it was pretty brave of her to write that.
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Old 08-16-2004   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jill
They have 250 or whatever members that they need to answer to, not you.
Not to be a pedant, but isn't the point Ian just made the opposite of that? As a 501 (c) (6):
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
The idea of a non-profit is to benifit the industry as a whole, not the individual members.
As such, SEMPO has to, under their current incorporated state, stand for more than individual members, whose individual happiness is irrelevant next to achieving the goal of promoting an industry.

I think, in the context of what Doug wrote, and leaving aside the way he said it, whether Barry made a billion dollars or nothing is not suppossed to be SEMPO's concern. In fact, he shouldn't make anything as a direct result of membership.

Highlighting that he did benefit directly and quantifiably just muddies the water even more, and perhaps sets in people's minds that individual benefit and promotion of members is part of SEMPO's goals.

I was tempted to point that out to Christine when I first read the article in question, but by then it was too late (this morning Sydney time, about 3 hours ago).

It would be nice if Doug didn't jump to hyperbole so quickly, and learned to finesse his posts and consider the emotive impact, but on this particular occasion the issue raised is 100% valid.
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Old 08-16-2004   #10
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That's the one sentence that stays with me from the article, too. And unfortunately it reinforces everything else that has been brought to light about SEMPO till date.

I don't think anyone doubts Christine's efforts to make SEMPO stay on track. However, the major issues such as self-promotion, which still exist on the web site itself, were not addressed. The stipend by itself is a non-issue. If someone is putting in valuable time, they should receive remuneration, unless they are landed gentry. Sometimes, even landed gentry may want remuneration. Which is also fine. It is the manner in which it was done, the basis used to decide the amount of the stipend, and how it remained uncommunicated to both its members as well as the SEM industry (remember non-profit status?), that remains the issue.

This seems to be Christine's personal response to Mike's article and I would take it as such and not as an official statement from SEMPO. It did not come from SEMPO; it came from an individual via a newsletter published from a third-party web site. It's not even an official SEMPO press release. In Christine's words, it's her 'rant.'
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Old 08-16-2004   #11
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Jill: You miss the point.

Quote:
And if you're upset by SEMPO, why should they care? They have 250 or whatever members that they need to answer to, not you.
That's the point. They need to "stop" saying they represent the industry if in fact they do "not" represent the industry.

Plus, It does not seem Christine has much a say about anything at all. If she did, she would get those "promotional" links deleted off the SEMPO website.

Also: The fact that Christine and others continue to "promote" the fact that a SEMPO member "must" be better than others, is a BIG concern to many of us.

I wish SEMPO members would quit skirting the real issues and start answering all the questions instead.
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Old 08-16-2004   #12
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I can say that I am a SEMPO member and I don't think I am better then any of you.
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Old 08-16-2004   #13
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Don't you think that they're working on things as we speak? Obviously, they have a lot to do. How about we give them a few weeks to fix what's broken and see what happens. If in a few weeks we don't hear anything more about any of this and they simply keep on going as they've been going, then by all means, blast away at them. I'll be resigning at that time too.

But from what I understand, there are people (like Christine) who are fighting to change things. Blasting her right now is certainly not going to help anything.
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Old 08-16-2004   #14
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LOL Good one Barry! Too funny.

Further: This article did not have to be written at all to the public. I don't think many of us really care that Christine and Mike are friends and associates. That does not pertain to us.

We do care about what it is that SEMPO intends to do with all the concerns. So far, they have not done much of anything about the major issues. The article seems to be posted to get the message out that "potential clients" are hiring SEMPO members because they are members of SEMPO, so that is some kind of a benefit to members, and is some kind of a good thing. That's the whole point in a nutshell. That's wrong.
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Old 08-16-2004   #15
Mike Grehan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ihelpyou
Further: This article did not have to be written at all to the public. I don't think many of us really care that Christine and Mike are friends and associates. That does not pertain to us.
The article was not written for the public as such. It was written specifically with the subscribers of e-marketing-news in mind i.e. Christine Churchill's own audience.

As a very prominent and well respected figure in the search marketing community, I believe subscribers to her newsletter are interested to hear both her personal and professional views. That's why they read her column. This was not a SEMPO missive.

The fact that Christine and I are friends and business associates and have entirely different views on SEMPO only goes to prove just how deeply divided the community is over the whole issue (make that issues).

That Christine and I remain loyal friends and active business associates proves the respect that we have for each others point of view.

I think that she has an extremely difficult task on her hands in trying to find the breathing space SEMPO needs if it is to prove that it can react to the members wishes in a positive and active manner. And I'm willing to give her that.

Regardless of my own personal feelings relating to SEMPO as an organisation, Christine Churchill gets 100% respect and admiration from me. After the hell and stress I've put her through this past few weeks, she's still on her feet fighting a very difficult fight.

And that takes guts, determination, loyalty and total professionalism.

All of which she's showing in abundance.
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Old 08-16-2004   #16
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Oh Yes. I agree with that entirely.

The issue is though that your points brought up by your article for the most part have not been addressed whatsoever. They are the same concerns of many for well over one year and not a blot of change has happened.

We still see the promotion of sempo members in every way. Christine wrote this:

Quote:
I also think that the vast majority of the current members haven't given up either. My dear friend Barry Lloyd whom Mike quoted as saying "I gave them $5000, what more support do they need?" will be the first to tell you he is renewing his SEMPO membership. He landed his biggest contract ever partly because he was a member of a professional industry organization. Congratulations Barry!
That is the 'using' of being a SEMPO member as some type of recommendation to the public. Substitute the name of Barry with some other SEMPO Circle members and you know exactly what I mean.

That's the crux of the issues. That issue is never addressed. Circle members are still promoting the fact they are Circle members and that they "must" be good SEO's or something. Like this for instance:

Quote:
“White Hat” Search Engine Optimization Methods
We're proud Circle members of SEMPO, so we're not about to ruin our good reputation by using cloaking, keyword spamming and stuffing, or other non-standard methods of affecting search engine placement. We keep current on what is considered “safe”, as well as “aggressive” search engine optimization techniques.
can be found here:
http://www.sitelab.com/organic_seo_optimization.html

Mike; I understand exactly what you are saying and agree with it. We should not let things get off the path as to what the real issues are with sempo. They have had LOTS of time to correct these issues, and have not responded to much of anything at all.

A non-profit organization would not have the above paragraph on a members website. If they insist of promoting themselves using SEMPO has a recommendation, then SEMPO needs to be changed to a "profiting" organization. It's illegal the way they are doing things now.

The above paragraph is attempting to tell visitors they "are in SEMPO, so they cannot ruin their good reputation". Meaning that SEMPO gives them a good reputation.

Last edited by ihelpyou : 08-16-2004 at 01:40 PM.
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Old 08-16-2004   #17
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Doug, I certainly understand your main concerns but on one of the minor ones I have to comment. I think it's hard enough to police your own communications without worrying about needing to police all member communications as well.

For example, although I'm most active on the High Rankings Forum, like many other SEO's I belong to several forums, including (for example) the IHelpYou forum (mostly in lurker mode, admittedly). I mention this for example purposes only, to make a point by doing a "logical replace".

For example, if I put:

I'm a proud member of the IHelpYou forum, so I'm not about to ruin my good reputation by using cloaking, keyword spamming and stuffing, or other non-standard methods of affecting search engine placement. I keep current on what is considered “safe”, as well as “aggressive” search engine optimization techniques.

How could you stop me? I'm not even directly claiming that the IHelpYou forum even stands for "White Hat SEO", just that I'm proud of my reputation in relation to it. Heck, for all anyone who has never heard of the IHY forum might know they might be a owned by the mafia (or a cult ).

There is no direct claim of "goodness" or "badness" involved, only that they are proud of their reputation. I'm also proud of my reputation vis-a-vis my local Chamber of Commerce. But they don't tell me I have to obey certain ethical guidlines, only that I be accurate when I state my membership status.

When you join any public organisation, regardless of what it officially stands for, you are placing yourself in the limelight by way of association, and thus your reputation is now public in relation to it.

I agree that it does appear that the quote in question does attempt to draw an inappropriate inference (even if it does not state it overtly), but holding SEMPO to task for it may be less reasonable than holding the firm in question (who wrote it and has editorial control over it) to task instead. I suspect SEMPO has enough problems without having to add editorial policing to it for all the members just yet.

My opinion,

Ian
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Old 08-16-2004   #18
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Isn't Dana Todd of sitelab.com on the Board of SEMPO, Ian?
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Old 08-17-2004   #19
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I have to echo Jill and Mike's plaudits for Christine! Regardless of what I may think of the internal workings of SEMPO - Christine is the person who had the patience to listen to a pretty irate me after the SEMPO meeting in Chicago last year, has consistently tried to look at things from the member point of view and is genuinely trying to right the many perceived wrongs with the organisation. She deserves support in an unenviable task.

The sad thing about her statement (which is true) is that the current reason for me renewing is mainly for marketing purposes instead of mainly for support for the organisation. I would prefer if it were the other way around!
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Old 08-17-2004   #20
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I don’t often agree with Doug, But in this I do believe he is right. SEMPO as a non-profit 501 (c) (6), the activities of promoting and marketing its members is illegal in the US.

This is NOT looking good for the industry as a whole, the organization that is supposed to promote the industry as a whole, is breaking the law by its activities of promoting itself and its members..

I think having a US Federal Prosecutor take a look at the activities of SEMPO, just to make sure that no laws are being broken, may be a good idea at this point.

Last edited by lots0 : 08-17-2004 at 01:52 PM.
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