In my last post, I put forward four principals of a good PR strategy. Here’s the fifth: Get Blogging.
There are a lot of people thinking and talking about the topic of how blogs fit into corporate communications, and indeed, into mass communications alltogether. I’ve got some links to some recent ones that I found interesting at the bottom of this post, and eventually I’ll get around to doing a listing of some of the blogs I like.
But, what should you DO about blogs? How does blogging fit into your short and long term corp comm strategy?
Here are a few things I think most companies can do to get started.
1. It may not make sense for you to start a corporate blog right now, but you had better be monitoring the blogosphere for mentions of your company and product, and dealing with the good and the bad right away. Tools like Feedster, PubSub, MyYahoo!, Google Search, Technorati all help do this in slightly different ways. People ARE talking about you, it is time you joined the conversation.
2. There are blog writers out there covering your space. Call them citizen journalists or just plain citizens, many of them are important writers for the audiences you are trying to reach. Do not make the mistake of ignoring them because they are "just bloggers." You may want to cultivate them even more carefully than a "regular reporter."
3. Publish your press releases and other corp comms with an RSS feed — it will make life easier for reporters who do want to track your firm. But don’t confuse using the tool (RSS) for a blog. If you want to have a corporate weblog, it has to be an authentic blog, not just the static press releases. And it is even better by the way, if you do add richer content to this feed than just the standard 2-page press release. It bears repeating however — be VERY CLEAR about what this is — your press releases and corp comms with an RSS feed simply to make it easier for folks who want to track your firm using a news aggregator.
4. Get blogging yourselves. Figure which kind of blogging activity makes sense for your firm, and just do it. You can start by choosing among 3 alternatives, and they are all reasonable ways to start — it just depends on what makes sense for you. You can:
- Support the employee blogs that probably already exist somewhere in your firm… or would with just a little encouragement. I would call this the Microsoft approach. 1300 bloggers don’t spring up from nowhere without support from the top.
- Launch company supported blogs in specific areas like product management and support where customers can engage directly with insiders. Or about particular issues if your product or service lends itself to that sort of conversation with the community. Having focus on a specific topic area is a good compromise if you can’t go the whole way with a corporate/C-level blog.
- The C-level or corporate blog, that acts as a real open window into the business. Hard to do, but I’m betting a slam dunk for those that do it right.
Here are a few other folks with recent posts that relate in some fashion to the the topic of PR, corporate communications and blogs. Some of the links are originally courtesy of Scoble’s LinkBlog, others from Dan Gillmor’s blog.
Pheedo article about pr agency MWW getting into blogging. Mostly interesting as an example of a "big-time" agency publicly embracing blogging.
PressThink post: Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over. Thought-provoking piece on the fine line between journalism and blogging. While not specifically about corporate blogging, it is important for marketers to understand the debates going on about blogging and journalism if we want to meet our customers, including both the professional and grassroots media (aka citizen journalists), in the right places, in the right way, with the right expectations.
Update 20 January: Lots of traffic today about the Ketchum/Williams/Dept of Ed/No Child Left Behind PR/spokesperson fiasco. Not really about corporate blogging but interesting to follow the ethical discussion. Best place to start if you want to follow the discussion: Jay Rosen’s PressThink blog has a great post, with lots of links to other comments.