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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0 Responses to PR challenge – how to target blogs?

  1. Trevor Cook says:

    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.
    – This is something of a straw man isn’t it – I don’t know of any PR people who do or advocate putting up press releases or stifling comment, in fact as PR Blog Week indicated most PR bloggers seem strongly of the view that blogs should be used to open up communication lines and overcome some of the more stifling tactics of spin meisters

  2. PR bloggers like yourself certainly believe in open comment. I enjoyed visiting your site.

    The PR people I knew dealt mostly in the area of managing communications. I can scarcely see them allowing comments on any website they hosted.

    You even mentioned a PR firm, Springboard Australia, which does not seem to not believe in full disclosure.

    I was not generalizing about PR firms. As I said, they perform a vital function. I was making the point that traditional management of communication lines may backfire when used on a blog.

  3. Trevor Cook says:

    Springboard – yeah, forgot about THEM. PR site used to skate the electoral laws.

  4. Will Pate says:

    The problem with most PR bloggers, save a few like Trevor, is that they really don’t understand the medium of blogging. They haven’t read their Cluetrain, they haven’t been reading the blogs for long enough and they don’t really listen to people like Seth that get it.

    That’s why my small web design studio is shifting into becoming a blog consulting studio. All these PR and corporate guys have shown up on the scene and despite their having blogs, know very little about what they’re really doing. We’re hoping we can work with them – because blogging’s reputation now partially sits in their fumbling fingers – instead of trying to own the market completely.

  5. Bill says:

    In the PR Machine article there are a few telling words in the summary. The sentence begins, “Who to put in charge …?” No one is in charge, not even the bloggers. Using Seth Godin’s analogy of a cocktail party, it’s like asking who will be in charge of the conversations. (This is only a good idea if you’re trying to clear the partiers out of your home.)

    I’d also add that new tools, new approaches etc. don’t mean the traditional is kaput. It only means it has changed. The effectiveness of some marketing vehicles are lessened but this doesn’t mean they are no longer effective. But the model is different. So how we view and use them needs to change to match this. Change isn’t about either/or, it’s about transformation.

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