The May 2nd issue has, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, a cover story on Blogs and how they’re going to change business, specifically your business. The article makes some excellent observations as well as some more obvious ones. That said as a piece aimed at the average business person that has yet to really discover the world of blogging it does a good job of getting you at least up to speed with this phenomena. The piece points out how blogs are changing various businesses and gives some examples of how blogs can be applied to a range of comms activities. Not surprisingly perhaps, the blog devotes a lot of space to talking about how blogs will change the media and of course to promoting a new Business Week blog – blogspotting.net. I would have loved to see this piece look more at how it’s really shaping business communication and thus business structures but perhaps that will come as they delve into things deeper. Anyway, if you have not read the piece I would, if only so you can comment on it when your clients ask about the piece.
Blogging has emerged as either the biggest change to the way the media works or just web sites with a bit more personality depending on who you talk to. For the PR profession the challenge is how to deal with this channel. Should agencies and in-house groups have people focused on blogs like HP and Cisco I believe now have? Or should blogging become something embedded into the way everyone does PR? This is of course reminiscent of the challenge the dot com revolution posed. Back in the 90s lots of PR firms set up dot com divisions, or even separate businesses in a bid to win lots of dot com clients. Of course these divisions and businesses were no more than a facade. The people in them knew little more about eCommerce than any other tech PR folk but at the time it was what the market wanted so they did it. The question right now is should the profession do the same thing for blogs? Looking back at the dot com PR era there are some interesting lessons to learn:
1. Most dot com agencies didn’t develop specific dot com products. Instead of using the Internet to create new types of PR products most simply adapted traditional products. Ask yourself, can you think of five new ways to do PR because of blogs?
2. The skills of most dot com agencies didn’t really change. Instead of hiring a new type of consultant with a new skill set, most agencies simply transferred people to the new agency. This is of course why most of the dot com divisions never really stood out. Again, ask the question, should you hire a different kind of person to focus on blogs?
3. The business models of most dot com agencies didn’t change. Sure some agencies took stock instead of cash (most of course now regret that) but that wasn’t a new model. A new model would have been a totally new pricing and staffing model. I think you can guess the question that comes here.
What does all this say? It says that unless as agencies we really plan on offering a totally new kind of service for those companies tackling the blogsphere then we shouldn’t even consider the option of creating a new division or agency. Instead we should simply add the blogsphere to our audiences. If, however, we are prepared to offer something truly different then I can see every argument for the creation of a new vehicle to offer a new way of communicating.
I’ve had a few compaints that I don’t update my blog enough. Well I do update it at least weekly but for some reason it seems my blog has become stuck in some time warp and to the outside world it has become mired somewhere back in February. I’m told this is probably just engines like Google and Yahoo that fail to crawl through blogs frequently enough. I was also told it could simply be that people have realized my blog isn’t worth updating. I was also advised to use pingomatic which I’ve now done. Whatever the problem is, I’d like people to know that my blog is still alive. I do, of course, promise to make sure nothing interesting appears here.