Here in Europe, mention the word blog to random colleague or friend and nine times out of ten you will get a blank expression, or one of bemusement. In PR circles its more like seven times out of ten, and in technology circles its about evens. But I have spent several years immersed in blogs and have found that a very low level explanation is needed on a weekly basis to demonstrate their value. Here it is.
As you should know, a blog (or web-log) is simply a regularly updated website which communicates the author's views to an online audience. Blogs often take the form of online journals, and the vast majority are simply that - journals. They are often naturally written, opinionated and biased. But they nearly always prove to be compellingly addictive. Now they are starting to emerge as a new brand of 'stand-alone' journalism.
Blogs are being used by early adopters for news and opinion forming. Many companies such as Microsoft, Sun, Google and Nike have their own blogs, and most freelance journalists are turning their websites into blogs.
What is the PR opportunity for harnessing the potential of the blogging community?
Firstly, targeting blogs as a media channel can generate good PR. Blogs which write about your company or product will generate word of mouth, form positive opinions and improve search engine rankings. As many journalists keep blogs, this will also build better relationships with offline as well as online media.
Taking IP telephony, for instance, here are a few blogs which are well read and which translate into traditional offline media coverage:
Secondly, publishing a corporate blog and promoting it to a target audience of customers, partners and press, offers companies a way of communicating news and opinions in an unobtrusive yet compelling way. New products, media coverage, and opinions can be published easily and quickly.
Here are some corporate blogs which do this well:
The reality is that blogs are changing the way firms and opinion formers are communicating with each other, with the media, and with consumers. Companies are NOW using them to publicise what they are doing. For example, Apple launched the iPod to bloggers to create word of mouth. And this link to a feature in The Guardian on how Blinkx launched to blogger Om Malik and then generated 6million links and 130,00 downloads of its software. If that's not proof that this is really happening then I don't know what is.
Drew B's take on tech PR