What’s in a name

January 14, 2010

Hi, I’m Jeff Cutler from JeffCutler.com. I am sometimes Jeffrey Cutler to my parents and my siblings when they’re annoyed with me. My first name is actually something different than Jeffrey and a bunch of people know what it is. But this isn’t a column about who I am. It’s a commentary on who I am not.


In early December 2009, I saw a tweet go out (a tweet is a 140-character missive that is carried on Twitter.com) saying how excited someone was about a meeting I was scheduled to attend. I panicked and played the skilled investigative journalist.

Sending back tweets like, “Where are we supposed to be meeting?” and “Who are we having the meeting with, again?” I was able to ascertain that Jeffrey Cutler was going to be speaking to the Greater Boston Food Bank about social media later that week.

I didn’t remember making that appointment, but chalked it up to having thousands of Twitter followers, a social media career that went back to 1999 or before when I started blogging, and an increasingly packed training schedule (as I regularly give talks to corporations, learning institutions, nonprofits and even national conference groups on how to leverage social media tools in their jobs, study and operations).

So, I made a phone call. The gentleman at the Greater Boston Food Bank was thrilled to hear from me. We chatted for three minutes before I decided to clear some things up for him.

“No sir. I have not received ANY of the scheduling emails you’ve sent out.”

“Yes sir. I am Jeff Cutler, the social media journalist and new media trainer. But I don’t think I’m the Cutler you have scheduled to speak to you.”

“Yes sir. I do this for a living, but don’t work in PR. I actually am a 21-year journalist and have run my own writing services firm for 18 years.”

“Yes sir. That may very well make my career older than the Jeffrey Cutler who you are meeting with this week.”

Once we clarified that I was NOT Jeffrey Cutler from Fama PR we compared notes. It was decided that the meeting with the other Jeff Cutler would go as planned. Then, if the Greater Boston Food Bank wanted some additional help, they would contact me and I’d come speak to them about social media tactics. That call came quickly.

This past Tuesday, Gradon Tripp and I went to the GBFB offices and spoke for about 75 minutes on the topics of social media, community, listening, marketing and more. Fun stuff. But it hasn’t helped stem the flow of Jeffrey Cutler incidents.

In fact, tonight I was at the #140Conf Tweetup and meeting at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge. I was approached by my friend Alexis who thanked me for agreeing to come speak to her company. Turns out they got the Jeffrey Cutler with 140 Twitter followers to help them mold their social media strategy.

So what should I do? I could send Mr. Cutler a tweet with a link to this post and start a conversation. I could monitor the Internet and see where “I’m” speaking or training next and just show up. Or I could worry unnecessarily about the damage the other Cutler might be doing to my brand and public image by selling people his social media training sessions. Then I could write about it on Things To Worry About and then go get something to eat.

What do you think I should do? He’s not (I don’t think) purposefully presenting himself as me to land jobs. If he is, Jeffrey Cutler deserves at least some credit as a salesman. But if his clients are hiring him based on my experience, prominence and aptitude, that’s a fraudulent path and maybe something the courts would suggest he be careful about clarifying when he signs on to train folks.

Or maybe it’s just caveat emptor. He has an impressive list of PR and marketing coups. He’s done something right to build up his list of clients. And he’s also been in startup land for a while – having been with Going.com from the beginning.

Maybe there’s room for two Jeff Cutlers….errrr, one Jeff Cutler and one Jeffrey Cutler…in this social media space. Only time will tell.

Keep reading!