Tom Foremski has the second installment of his essay about the impact of blogging on public relations and the media. I agree that the number of voices in the blogosphere means that companies cannot control their message, but should now listen to those voices, engage in discussion and seek to influence opinion directly. That’s a good way to learn, to correct misperceptions or errors and to highlight new information.
But Tom then goes on to ask an important question: If a blogger writes a post will anyone listen? His perspective is not until that blogger has built credentials or a media brand:
Negative and positive comments made by bloggers carry little weight
either way—until a blogger establishes their credentials, their media
brand. And that is a long process requiring a lot of diligent writing
While it’s true that some blogs will carry more weight than others, I’m not sure that all seek to even be a media brand. And more importantly, I think even an individual blogger can have a huge impact on public opinion when they write something which is credible in its own right, which is topical and relevant to many. That’s surely the essence of the blogosphere – that opinions are connected and spread. Take the Kryptonite issue which came from a single post, or the Pepsi-iTunes hack which spread so quickly. The message here had its own credentials, regardless of source or brand.
That said, I agree it is likely that we will see the consolidation which Tom forecasts, and that most PR efforts will go towards listening to and communicating with those ‘A-List’ blogs which build their own media brand. But I feel that the long tail of the blogs will remain; that good, credible information will continue to emerge from it; and that those smaller blogs will continue to pose just as much opportunity and threat to corporate, organizational and individual reputations.
So if a blogger blogs, will they be heard? Not always, but they might and when they do it’s best if companies and communicators are listening.
For a good example, take my Technorati post below. I highlighted a problem with the searchlet. David Sifry, the Technorati CEO was listening, acted and the problem was solved. My opinion of the company has been enhanced. And now I’m evangelizing the experience. Not that my post itself specifically posed a threat to Technorati, but in terms of reputation protection and reinforcement, this shows the company to be responsive, passionate and proactive. Technorati is listening.