Blogging and PR vs bloggers and PR people

Generally I really don’t like blog posts about blogging. There’s something distasteful about it, like a dog returning to its vomit or some sort of horizontally influenced circle jerk. But I knew I’d end up doing it sooner or later, so here we are: Philippe Borremans reports from the Euroblog 2007 conference on the findings from the 2nd European survey of PR professionals. It turns out that (and I’m blatantly going to copy from his text here, which is probably partly why I don’t like blog posts about blogging):

  • 89% of PR professionals surveyed think that blogs and social software will be widespread and integrated into communications as websites are today.
  • 69% say they do not have the skilled personnel to handle them and 42% are unable to demonstrate the ROI of blogging. 

… in other words everyone thinks it’s important but noone knows what to do about it. This is true: I’m currently involved in a blogging project that is considered to be breaking new ground within my company. However, we don’t really know what we’re going to do with the results, and to mask this we tell people that any strategy we adopt must fit in with our parent corporation’s strategy (they don’t have one yet) and our client’s strategy (they also don’t have one yet). Thing is, blogs can be pretty scary. Get it wrong and you get it very wrong.

The 3 biggest challenges for PR Professionals to use blogs in their organisation are:

  • having time to blog regularly (83%)
  • reacting to comments/feedback from the audience (83%)
  • creating content and ideas for posts (80%)

… implying that PR professionals are generally disorganised and unimaginative. Check that. 

The 3 biggest opportunities for PR Professionals are:

  • environmental scanning, keeping a finger on the pulse (81%)
  • fast reaction time to issues (74%)
  • opportunity for authentic, personal communications (77%)

… which is a set of findings I cannot lampoon in any way. Since I got involved in blogging I now have a very comprehensive set of feeds, incorporating Google News searches, Yahoo News searches and blog searches that give me, within five minutes each morning, a complete panorama of the news I want. This has already enabled us to react really quickly to threats and we’re getting a reputation for being totally on the ball. Yet – to go back to the previous point about not knowing what to do with blogs – we haven’t taken up this opportunity for comms yet. The problem is that bloggers don’t regard companies – let alone agencies, let alone PR agencies – as having ‘personal’ communications. But that’s what bloggers want. And in a way, that’s what we want too. So let’s talk.

There must be companies out there embracing blogging. If so, it implies they have outward-looking, free-thinking invididuals not only able to perceive the promise of blogging, but willing to entertain the concept and courageous enough to do something about it. But that requires that the bloggers also have a sufficiently broad and accepting worldview to play ball.

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