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March 10, 2005

PartII: If a Blogger Blogs in the Blogosphere…

…does anybody blog it?

by Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher
In the first part of this essay, I asked how will PR communications teams apply media relations to the blogosphere? The traditional methods of influence can’t be applied to such a fragmented media landscape. (Part I is here.)

The normal means of spin-control cannot be applied either, because in this new world where everyone can be a blogger, be a journalist, there would be no way to monitor and address all the unexpected issues. There would be just too many bloggers to deal with, and each one is a potential friend or enemy, able to broadcast praise or contempt to potentially millions of people.

This is a nightmarish situation for PR communications people, because if they cannot influence the unruly blogosphere then what role remains for them?

Yes, there are going to be new ways of communications, new methods, new procedures. We know what some of those will be, but there is a heck of a lot that we don’t know yet on how best to use media technologies such as blogs and wikis in the enterprise. The new rules are being forged right now and that’s what makes things interesting.

Zombie media

Media technologies are changing the established media world too. Print publications won't go away but there are a lot of zombies out there—media companies not quite dead but not quite alive, continuing to stagger along. Many print based publications won't survive the new media sector that will emerge from these changing times.

Yes, the blogosphere is a mighty media beast, uncontrollable, it does what it wants, it can wreck havoc and wreck careers. But, if an individual blogger blogs in the blogosphere does anybody blog it?

That depends on the relationships readers have formed with the blogger, the “brand” experience that is created, the trusted relationships formed. These are exactly the same things that media brands such as BusinessWeek or CNET focus on every day and it takes time to build media brands.

Ten more years of hard slog for Cnet

I met with Shelby Bonnie, CEO of last summer, and he told me that after more than ten years of hard work building the CNET media brand, there was probably another ten years to go before the media brand could be properly monetized.

“We just have to remember that building a media brand is a long process. The New York Times was not built in ten years,” he said.

Individual bloggers have to build their media brand, just like the traditional media, and that takes time.

Negative and positive comments made by bloggers carry little weight either way—until a blogger establishes their credentials, their media brand. And that is a long process requiring a lot of diligent writing and reporting.

If you look closely, you’ll find there are lots of experienced journalists, editors and publishers within the blogosphere such as Om Malik, Dan Gillmor, Chris Nolan, Nick Denton, who runs the fast growing Gawker Media blog empire out of his HQ loft in New York; so is John Battelle; and Jason Calcanis with his Weblogs, Inc collection of blogs.

Raising the bar

Growing numbers of media professionals within the blogosphere raises the bar for all because the competition for reader attention will be that much fiercer and editorial standards will be that much higher.

Building a personal blogging brand and cultivating a key readership within such an increasingly noisy media landscape will become increasingly difficult for individuals. We will see consolidation as blogs become group blogs and then become fully-fledged online news magazines.

There will be lots of these Internet 2.0 (net-two) news mags, in every area of human endeavor. There will be a worldwide flowering of the media landscape--at least that’s what I see in my crystal (8) ball :-)

And consolidation will eventually make it easier for PR communications teams to apply standard methods of influence.

March 10, 2005 06:03 AM

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I think PR is going to have to lose words like "manage" and "control" and replace them with "cultivate." I think we have to replace the sports and war metaphors with agricultural ones.

Posted by: Alice Marshall at March 10, 2005 07:23 AM

Actually, the credibility of bloggers, commentators, shills, and journalists may simply be based by the reader on where in the google popularity hierarchy that person appears. In other words, if you don't have a high google ranking on the first or second page, no one will read you no matter how fair and balanced you are. In an era where people live by "googling", media "brand building" takes on an entirely new meaning. Perhaps this is why an IDG exec recently said google was a media company, and hence a competitor.

Posted by: Lynne Jolitz at March 10, 2005 12:59 PM

I just got back from a Churchill Club fete, where Dan'l Lewin said, "brand is trust, and trust takes time."

I'm also reminded of the line, "on the internet everyone will be famous to 15 people."

I'm not sure that being #1 on the google hitlist matters that much in this view. I don't think that bloggers will necessarily replace NYT, but they will become the niche publishers. Try researching the search business w/o relying on blogs and appreciating SEW or Batelle.

I also think that blogs and google are supplanting the idea of the website as brand. Your website isn't your brand - because a website doesn't create trust. what creates trust is knowing what you are really all about. if you were considering dating someone, or hiring someone, would you google them or view their website?

I think similarly, checking someone out in the blogosphere - what do they say on their blog, in comments on others blogs, what do others say about them, what feeds do they subscribe to, become important. google and technorati/etc are building up rather interesting data profiles of people.

Posted by: Richard Koman at March 10, 2005 11:25 PM

It's interesting that you say a web site cannot be trusted but the content can. I guess with phishing and piosioning DNS servers, you really can't trust a web site. But if you are familiar with the writer's content, style and "voice" it has a trusted signature of sorts.

Posted by: Tim Plusom at March 11, 2005 01:23 AM

I think you are dead-on Alice.

And I like your alternate words because they are also alternate attitudes rather than masking something with a more PC word.

Posted by: Tom Foremski at March 11, 2005 01:26 AM

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