Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Another View 

Pete Shinbach is a long-time friend and compatriot in the war to bring technology to PR. Pete and I have wounds from the effort and a few successes along the way -- darn few, unfortunately. The industry has resisted technology from the beginning, as Pete will attest. It hasn't changed much. So, I asked Pete for his outsider's view of PR and blogging. Here, edited, is what he had to say.

Will PR people figure out blogging? Some will but most won't. Those that will are those who grasp the principles of third-party endorsements, relationship management and other things most PR people pay lip service to but don't really understand. On the agency side, I think some boutique shops will use blogging and the larger agencies like Edelman, Burson, Fleishman-Hillard, if they're not already. Others won't because it isn't media relations, it can't be controlled, it can't be relevantly measured (yet), it requires first-person singular mind sets and not first-person plural with passive voice.

The other reason is that virtually all PR people who blog these days blog about blogging. True, there are exceptions. However, most PR bloggers seem to kill a lot of electrons gazing at their navels and linking to each other. As a result, they are really not contributing to the body of knowledge or encouraging PR people to integrate blogs into their work, either by publishing, commenting on or reading blogs.

Should PR people know how to use the blogging tool? Sure, they should. Will blogging become a mass medium? Hell no. Will it become an influential medium? Hell yes. That's because it has so many characteristics that any successful information medium has. It is personal, it bypasses filters and gatekeepers, it's trusted (even if there are dubious characters writing and reading blogs -- which is true for any communications medium), it's interesting and it's self-selective. However, what sets blogging apart from most of its electronic and all of its dead-tree predecessors is its use of linking to form online conversations within an unstructured framework. By employing trackback links, blogrolls and other tools, bloggers encourage serendipitous exploration.

As usual, Pete has given me something to think about. Thanks, Pete.


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