The title of this post is dedicated to B.L. Ochman. I felt that I'd keep up with the spirit in order to convince companies to stop asking questions and accept the fact that they need to engage. The only question they need to ask is,"what do I need to do?"
Good friend Duncan Riley recently asked me to help with an article he was writing regarding PR professionals who also blog and whether or not the companies we work with are ready to embrace the blogosphere.Duncan is one of the smartest tech, marketing and media-savvy people I know, so I was flattered that I was able to collaborate with him. And his the slogan on his blog is absolutely perfect for this discussion, "Blogging is not a spectator sport."
Duncan asked, "How would you recommend clients use blogging as part of their PR strategy?"
The easy answer is I would love them to start...
Contrary to popular reports, blogging is far from reaching its tipping point. In fact, it's hardly done enough in business. In fact, it's not nearly deployed enough.
Believe it or not, only a small percentage of the companies I speak to are actively blogging and many push back when I present the advantages for doing so. Not only do they push back, but many have the audacity to ask my team to write their posts so that they can put their name on them.
I was sitting next to Shel Israel on a flight recently and we of course immediately jumped into the discussion of blogging. Israel co-authored Naked Conversations with Robert Scoble in 2005 and is considered one of the first books designed to help companies engage in the conversations taking place with or without them.
According to Israel, "We started talking about the subject years ago to help companies start blogging. We thought we failed because, quite simply corporate blogging was not happening right away. Here we are 30 months later, and enterprises are now screaming to learn about blogging and they're also shocked to find out that you can also embed pictures and video in them. They are finally starting to understand that being shouted out at in the open is better than when they can't hear them."
While some are just now getting hot on it, there are also many who still completely underestimate it. It's still viewed by many as merely an online journal, when in fact, it can be the most powerful, consistent voice for a company, the brand, and its personality ever available to them.
Unlike other forms of traditional marketing, blogging requires new or additional resources to not only create the blog template and platform, but also actively write compelling content using a new voice and also actively participate in the blogosphere to help promote an active and genuine presence.
The challenge initially is to justify and measure the investment against a legitimate and proven ROI model. It just doesn't stack up or compare to anything most companies do today, so it's an incredibly difficult first step.
Outside of the tech sector, participating in the greater "conversational marketing" movement is still a foreign and highly misjudged concept. While others simply think that blogging is only an extension of existing marketing using the channel to spew corporate BS in the vain attempts to sell more stuff. Oh, but I can't forget those company executives that consider blogging a chore. Rather than take the opportunity to share insight and expertise and help consumers make more informed decisions, they instead opt to not blog at all or, as I mentioned earlier, have a PR flack or marketing associate write posts or repurpose existing content and then post them under their own name.
The truth is that a thoughtful and well-cultivated corporate blog can yield many benefits that not only help PR, but also enhance every facet of corporate communications along with improving sales cycles, customer service and ultimately loyalty.
The best thing any of us can do is create a strong case for why and how companies create a new, or improve their existing, blog strategy. It all comes with a greater respect for people and the honest intent of improving relationships.
In blogging and in all of Social Media, intention is everything.
In order to shape the brand and company personality we wish to portray to customers, reporters, investors, analysts, and anyone who can help the company grow, we must embrace a new level of engagement and stop speaking "at" people, only with them. And it all starts with listening.
As Shel said, it's about working with companies to realize that there's more value in listening, participating, and embracing conversations in the public world of Social Media rather than plugging their ears and pretending like none of it is happening.
Blogging requires a true and persevering commitment. You get out of it what you put into it. To quote B.L. Ochman, "Create a totally fucking amazing blog." Make people read it. Make people value it. Make your peers source it and link to it!
Blogging is about extending a voice, connecting people, and nurturing relationships. This is the only foundation for which any blog strategy should be built.
It is our job and our responsibility to guide them through the uncharted paths of transparency, reminding them that letting go of controlled messages and communications can actually stimulate more conversations and ultimately escalate brand resonance and loyalty.
We've all heard that content is king and with blogging, I have to say that simply generating content doesn't cut it. This is about people talking to people. Sharing expertise, offering advice, offering compassion, defining the landscape, and more importantly, listening to the conversations taking place in and around your brand, and that of competitors, are the necessary ingredients to effectively participate in the blogosphere.
And it's not just blogging, it's actually participating in the community. Company employees can also help people, demonstrate thought leadership, stimulate traffic, and strengthen customer ties by actively reading and commenting on other blogs posts.
Note: I'm not talking about running around and selling people on your products or services. I'm talking about genuinely going out there and joining the conversations that could use your input!
Ultimately, this is all the same advice for PR people as well. There's no room for pitching, spamming, or the day-to-day BS that defines most PR. With social media, PR is now exposed to the public again and therefore now needs to reengage by putting the "public" back in public relations.
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and it looks like hard work" - Thomas EdisonConnect on Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce or Facebook.
Blogging blog shel+Israel naked+conversations nakedconversations nowisgone naked conversations shel Israel Duncan+riley corporate company marketing social+media social media socialmedia media+2.0 media2.0 2.0 pr2.0 pr+2.0 pr public relations publicity communications public+relations publicrelations Thomas+Edison marketing+2.0 robert+scoble
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