Before there were blogs, there were personal journals and bulletin boards and usenets and mailing lists. Before there were blogs, I monitored the Web, I tracked conversations in what is now Google Groups and I subscribed to popular mailing lists to see what was being said about my clients.
Now, thanks to the improvements in search engines and the availability of RSS feeds (customizable), my job has gotten much easier. Now, thanks to the ease of creation and maintenance of blogs, my job has gotten much bigger.
A little over a year ago I wrote about a strange lunch where a room full of PR professionals didn’t know the first thing about blogs. A month ago I attended a workshop where the topic of discussion was the benefits of monitoring what is being said about you and your organization online.
Are we still debating the merits of watching the Web? That alone scares me. The question in your organization shouldn’t be whether or not you shoud be watching the Web. The question you should be asking is: who in your organization is monitoring your online reputation? If you don’t have an answer, you need to take a moment.
The conversation I reference above:
This comes two weeks after a strange conversation I had with a group of public relations professionals about using blogs to promote an issue campaign.
In public relations networking is practically a law. For me, networking with other public relations professionals has always been helpful. I make good connections for future projects, have a group of people to bounce ideas against, and get caught up on what other PR people are doing to get the job done.
At a lunch a few weeks ago, one of my colleagues was asking for feedback on ways to promote a new issue campaign her organization began recently. The lunch crowd on that day was small, only six or seven people, myself included. We all gave her ideas, based mostly on things we’d done ourselves previously that had generated good results. All was well until I suggested to her that she do a search for blogs covering her topic to pitch the story to them.
“I don’t really know what a blog is,” she told me. A statement that, frankly, flabbergasted me. In a world where bloggers are making the list of journalists to watch, and where Sony is dishing out $25,000 a month for exclusive advertising rights on a blog, the idea that someone who promotes for a living didn’t know what they are surprised me. When all but one of the PR professionals there on that day said the same thing, I was shocked.
It got worse.
The one person who said she knew what a blog was called them online diaries, in condescending tones. She spoke briefly about her experience with one, years ago, and how she started a blog, lost interest and let go of the project.
I cut her off before she did any more damage. I lectured for several minutes on the use of business blogs, blogging for public relations and the new order of online journalism. I talked about the necessity of adding blogs for customer relations, the immediacy of providing information in this manner and the personal touch this adds to an otherwise impersonal relationship with customers.
“You know more about this than anybody I’ve met,” I was told. It wasn’t a compliment.
A few years ago my biggest concern was the new crop of public relations professional that didn’t know what AP stood for. (By the way, that’s Associated Press… and please don’t ask me why that’s important.) Today, it’s the crop of PR people who aren’t paying attention to how society as a whole is consuming information. Small bytes, niched and specialized, targeted and directed, most of all, it’s consumer-driven.
I do this for a living.
Wow! I do do this for a living.
By the way, check out Andy Beal's Online Reputation Monitoring Beginners Guide if you want to get started and haven't already.