Public relations & blogging
‘Bloggers are not journalists. They do not check facts. And yet some have widespread influence,’ warns PR Week (UK edition).
Named North West England’s most popular by the Big Issue, I guess I’m a successful blogger. Yet I don’t believe the hype, even when the PR Week leader quoted above offers a potentially scary number: 23,000 blogs created every day. What they fail to mention is that two thirds are quickly abandoned and most are little read. They don’t point out that in practice sustainable blogs tend to form clusters with owners reading and linking to each other in apparently open, but effectively closed communities. In other words, the blogosphere is not as large, overwhelming or interconnected as we’re sometimes led to believe.
But that’s not to say blogs aren’t important. They are very important. While the great majority are delighted with a readership in the high double figures, there are some very popular blogs indeed. And perhaps more importantly blogs often play to the search engines that people use to find businesses on the web. In another piece PR Week highlights the case of Kensington Locks, a company damaged by blogs. Google them and, at time of writing, the result ‘Kensington Locks Vulnerable – Tech Observer’ comes in at number three, just below the company’s own site. Tech Observer’s just one guy and this blog entry is just a quote from elsewhere, but for many it’s a first introduction to Kensington. Not good for the lock manufacturer, who handled the situation badly.
Having said all that, blogs, like most things that emerge from new technology, are not inherently bad or good and a successful public relations strategy should never be about communicating approved messages to passive target audiences. The most effective PR creates genuine dialogues between all with a stake in a particular business, be they customers, employees, shareholders, regulators or local communities.
A public relations strategy for today should include blogs as a means to facilitate that dialogue. Such a strategy will exploit the blogosphere to educate markets, promote mutual understanding and ensure there are no nasty surprises for anyone.
Contact Stephen Newton