PR challenge – how to target blogs?

This is the challenge that blogs present to a PR professional:
Nuancing is mercilessly exposed. Failure to respond appropriately to comments is glaringly obvious. On the other hand, integrity and clarity of thought have no better showcase than a blog.

When customers write about failures to deliver on a brand promise and that comment becomes a current topic of internet gossip, corporate PR departments are fit to be tied. They correctly recognize that blogs and RSS are a threat to brand management.

Here is an excerpt from that link: Because of their instantaneous and global publishing capabilities, blogs and RSS feeds (effectively customer brand touch points) can quickly catch brand managers and their strategies entirely off guard (making their current often static online website collateral seem non-responsive and old in comparison to the new global conversations now starting to take place.

As a result the PR industry is girding its loins and preparing to take on those annoying, out of control bloggers. If you read other posts on the PR Machine site, you may wonder whether the PR industry is ready for the challenge. Their chirpily enthusiastic verbiage reads like warmed-over press releases. Their whole premise seems to be based on managing communication lines and somehow providing news that the bloggers will incorporate in their blogs.

If you think I am exaggerating, read PR Machine’s interview of Seth Godin. Their questions are framed in classic corporate-speak and Seth’s responses are succinct and brutally frank. I do not get the sense that PR Machine ever listened to Seth’s responses, so it may have been an email interview, but PR Machine makes no reference to this and treats it as if it were live. Bad form. It makes PR Machine appear quite clueless.

PR is a vital function, but poorly executed PR usually backfires and is harmful to the company. Traditional PR has succeeded by managing communication lines and messages through persuasion and application of economic power. Their negotiations with editors and publishers were hidden from public view. I do not think that PR professionals are ready for communicating over an open, two-way communication line. It is analogous to handling a sensitive PR situation on live TV.

The power of a blog lies in its ability to show that a person does what he says and how he or she deals with opposition. Whether business blog or personal blog, the reason it gets read is that someone is writing from the heart about meaningful things. As soon as a blog gets into “commercial or canned” messages, it is no longer interesting.

When PR people can post comments on a blog using their own name or write a blog and handle comments from others, then they will begin to gain some traction in the blogosphere. If they put up blogs with a series of press releases and stifle or inhibit comments, they will only provide amusement and blogfodder for the blogging community.

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