Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

If a Blogger Blogs in the Blogosphere...

Posted by Tom Foremski - March 8, 2005

by Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

goya_sleep_of_reason.jpgThe rise of blogging has a nightmarish quality to it --if you are in the public relations or corporate communications fields-- because of the fact that anyone can become a blogger. And that means that anyone can become a journalist.

There are millions of bloggers, and thus the media landscape has shattered into a million pieces. Each blogger shares in the power attributed to journalists and the established media: the power to influence, and cause, change in society and markets.

And that means a public relations nightmare; because how can a public relations firm or corporate communications department manage its media relations?

Before the rise of the blogosphere, it was easy to know where journalists worked, their names, what beat they covered, the size of their readership, the demographics of their readers. That made it easy to target the journalists with press releases, with invitations to events, with story pitches, and to establish working relationships with them.

The more contact with journalists, the better chance of media coverage, and the better chance of having a specific message communicated.

It's astounding how much effort goes into influencing journalists. I always knew it was a lot; but I never realized how much until I left the Financial Times in June, and started doing some reporting on the Silicon Valley PR sector, through the Silicon Valley Watcher.

For example, PR firm Waggoner Edstrom, mostly known for its chief client Microsoft, will plan a media campaign in extraordinary detail. It decides which journalists will be offered exclusives, and which ones will be snubbed. It even prints up dummy front covers of BusinessWeek and other magazines with the images and story angles it wants communicated to its readers.

And it doesn't want a rosy, super-positive story; it wants a balanced, neutral-to-slightly-positive news story/feature/interview. That's because a balanced, slightly positive story carries more weight: the reader respects that the journalist offered contrary views, yet the subject came through mostly unscathed.

How can that level of highly-detailed media control be applied to the blogosphere? Do you start with a mock-up of the Slashdot headline you'd like to see?

Here are some answers in part II of "If a Blogger Blogs..."

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