Thursday, January 17, 2008

Blogging as a PR Tool

This is my article about the above topic for the PR conference. (Do send in opinions)
What is a Blog anyway? If you don’t know what a blog is, you’re not alone; according to surveys, nearly two-thirds of Internet users don’t have a good idea of the meaning of “blog.” Well there might be a multitude of definitions available by now on the web. Some of those are – Ø It’s a frequently updated online journal or diary usually, often hosted by a third party; Ø Like an online dairy, This can be about and be used for anything at all, it can be used for news, reviews, products etc for a business, organisation etc. This is great as it helps the user stay in touch with the website with new and up to date information and so on goes the explanations.
While no one’s exactly sure how many blogs there are, estimates often range from 30 to 100 million of them, all over the world, and a new one is created every 7.4 seconds. Check out websites like
Global Voices and you can get a taste for the global reach of blogging, or the blogosphere, as it’s often known as. There are many blogging tools available online, including free ones. For example, take a look at, one of the most popular blogging platforms. Blogger is a website that lets you set up a free account and create your own blogs - as many as you want. The site has basic step-by-step instructions, taking you through the process of setting up your account, naming your blog and choosing a design template. Then it’s just a matter of filling out a form and pressing a button. The online software does all the hard work, while you get to focus on the fun part - being creative and saying whatever it is you have to say.

Public Relations and Blogs

Due to the Internet, the current flow of information and opinion is unprecedented in human history. The creation of blogs has rapidly quickened the pace of the public relations and corporate communications industry. Blogs create a new platform for the consumer where one can be truly honest about their opinion. In a non-threatening and comfortable environment, bloggers can give their anonymous and honest opinion about a product with a sense of security. Blogs have the power to shape public opinion and it can give public relations professionals' valuable insight into their own work.
Blogs have emerged as a major catalyst for change in traditional PR agency practices. Not only are blogs now established as an important information generator, intelligence gatherer, reputation builder, crisis tool, networker, and free digital press, blogs are the delivery method of choice for global PR agency watchdogs who are demanding a new, transparent, and highly credible method of delivering PR services. Blogs can be much more efficient at syndicating content than traditional PR releases.
Perhaps the single most powerful aspect of blogs, in the area of public relations, is the personalization aspect. The writer is a real person, putting a human face on what might otherwise be perceived as an unknown and distant company. By developing trust among the various readership groups, the blog writer provides a personal link to the company.
If the goal of a public relations effort is to work in coordination with sales and marketing, a blog will establish the trust required with current and prospective customers and clients, while in the past, public relations depended upon controlling the message that was put forward from the organization. The unspoken goal was to manipulate public opinion; hence the prearranged message was centralized and carefully vetted for wording and nuances.

Blogging as a public opinion medium gives up that tight control, and presents a message in a conversation with the reader. In that sense, the blog cultivates public opinion. With increasing transparency, inside and outside of organizations, the best approach is one of open discussion and blog is the ideal delivery vehicle for the same.

Many people have begun to mistrust the traditional canned public relations approach as lacking honesty. The openness of a blog changes that perception entirely. A blog can enhance that perception of honesty by delivering the straight goods on an issue. With that open approach, lacking the traditional tightly controlled message, trust in the company is enhanced and that trust translates into more life long customers and clients.

Why Your Business Should Have a Blog as a PR Tool
As blogging has gained prominence, it has become a vital public relations tool for companies. No longer is it enough to just have a Web site, now a company needs a blog to help it gain publicity and to help its employees or leaders to become thought of as experts in their field. The transparency is a popular reason for blogging, particularly for companies that want to be identified as mission-oriented or socially responsible.

Businesses are accepting blogging as an integral part of PR because it allows firms to engage with current and prospective clients on a one-on-one level. It is a low-cost, high-return tool that can handle marketing and public relations, raise the company profile and build the brand. There are only about 5000 company blogs, so there is lot of room for you to take your niche and gain valuable exposure.

If a disaster should strike (crisis situation), your business blog can provide an immediate and personalized way to address the issue and avoid sounding like the “spin” usually associated with traditional PR. Rather than shutting down communications in times of crisis, a company can post regular and open information on its blog. It can address the crisis fairly and honestly while keeping the public completely aware of where the business stands and its plans to move forward.

A company’s blog also plays an important role in gaining the attention of the media. The news media is constantly on the lookout for potential news stories. A growing number of editors and journalists are reading blogs on a daily basis. By writing about your industry, reviewing products, providing company news and providing commentary on your industry, your business’ blog is a ready source of news stories. Journalists will also come to view you as an industry expert if you write in a style that reflects your personality and knowledge.
Any business seeking a public relations vehicle, should add a blog to their Web site. The authentic and personalized blog voice is natural fit for any public relations and will benefit your company during a crisis. As more journalists and editors read blogs, it is imperative for your company to keep up with the trend.
Businesses seeking a public relations vehicle, that provides numerous additional benefits, should consider adding a blog component to their website. The authentic and personalized blog voice is a natural fit for any public relations effort.

A rapidly growing number of journalists and editors are reading blogs on a daily basis. It’s becoming imperative that companies start a blog to keep up with that trend. Thanks to the addition of an RSS feed, a blog’s updated post can be on a journalist’s computer in seconds.

Old style tightly controlled public relations are becoming a thing of the past. So get into the new public relations paradigm, by adding the personalized voice of a blog.

No comments: