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Blogs… What you need to know as PR Pros…

Here are some great notes/mini-transcripts from a gathering at The Publicity Club of New York. Commentators included

  • Elizabeth Spiers, Editor-In-Chief, Mediabistro.com & Founding Editor, Gawker.com
  • Lockhart Steele, Managing Editor, Gawker.com
  • Jennifer Chung or Jake Dobkin, Co-founders of the Gothamist
  • Jay Rosen Associate Professor New York University, Dept. of Journalism

Q:  Does the rise of blogging mean the demise of Public Relations? Is traditional media dead?

A: Blogging is just another outlet for public relations.  In fact, Richard Edelman (of Edelman Public Relations) runs his own personal blog. PR professionals should take advantage of the medium, as opposed to seeing it as a threat.      

Q:  Do sponsors enhance the buzz, or site activity?  Does the site sponsor influence the credibility of the site?

A:  You can’t pull the wool over the readers’ eyes.  Bloggers create their own credibility, based on the caliber of material that they chose to include in their blog.  Advertising doesn’t play a significant role in determining who visits a blog.

Q: What kind of subject matter lends itself to blogging?

A:  Media gossip and local events tend to be the easiest to capture in a blog.  Wall Street is a harder beat to cover, due to increased regulation and less need for self promotion.

Q: Explain the term “Flogs.”  And talk about how companies can take advantage of them.

A: Flogs are “fake blogs-” blogs that companies create to generate publicity for themselves.  The key to a successful flog is to be strategic in your approach – avoid “PR Dribble.”  A flog that provides an interesting angle and compelling information is much more successful at drawing readership.  Linking to, or referencing other blogs on the subject also increases credibility.

Q:  If bloggers don’t get their info sent to them directly, what is the process of obtaining timely/relevant information for their blog?

A: Blogs don’t have traditional reporters “out on the scene.” So bloggers rely on what news and information is already out there. Bloggers tune into Google alerts, newspapers, television, and other blogs as resources.

Q: Are bloggers able to get press credentials?

A: Yes, although the .com stigma is often a barrier, especially when dealing with touchy political issues.

Q: Comment on the statement: Blogs are not a credible source of information because “bloggers aren’t trained press.”

A: Of course this is sometimes true. (There are 8 million bloggers). Some people create a blog dedicated solely to their cat, for instance.  However, many bloggers are, in fact, top-notch editors and reporters at major news publications.  In fact, some of these outlets have blogs directly affiliated with their print news. 

Q: Should there be rules set by news outlets whose reporters may also run their own blogs?

A: A number of free speech issues could be violated if employers were to set rules on what their
reporters can blog.  However, it has become increasingly acceptable for big news organizations to work with bloggers.  Similarly, blogs are also another source that reporters can draw their knowledge from.

Q: Where or how can I get RSS (Real-Simple-Syndication)?

A: RSS is downloadable software that enables a user to receive rapid, real-time syndication of news and
content from multiple users.  Basically, it serves as news source on the desktop of your computer. Common sites that offer free RSS include NewsGator.com and BlogLines.com

Q: Are they self involved?

A: Bloggers are often self-involved. It is not necessarily out of the need to become famous, rather the desire to communicate with like-minded people.

Q: What is the future of blogging?  Is this a fad?

A: 62% of Americans are still not even aware that blogs exist.  However, there are bloggers who have maintained the SAME blog for five straight years.  This staying power is a good sign that blogs are not a passing fad.  Blogging, if nothing more, is an efficient way for people to communicate over the internet. 

A: This is a very unsettled time for the media industry.  I feel that the “category” itself will eventually disappear as blogging becomes more mainstream.  People and companies will no longer be referred to as “bloggers,” just as today, we do not refer to people as “emailers.”  That just goes without saying. 

A:  The world of “controlling the message” is over.  News and information is no longer in the hands of a few (large news outlets).

Thanks to the team at Fleishman for the email. There’s more up on their site including this interview with Lockhart. Here’s his response to the hot topic of bloggers as jounralists:-

 Q:  Are bloggers journalists?

There are definitely some bloggers who do really good journalism.
Certainly, in the political world, we’ve seen bloggers who spend a lot
of time calling sources and doing real journalism. And then there are
lots of bloggers who do pure commentary. The media tend to think about
blogging as a monolithic thing. Like all bloggers are all one way or
another. There are many different ways to be a blogger.

To me, blogs give you the feeling that you’re getting the news straight.
And while you may be getting a writer’s take on the news, there’s no
attempt to hide the fact that there are biases in play. In blogs, all
of the biases are on table. Obviously, if one person is writing it,
it’s going to be opinionated. And people like reading other people’s

One Response

  1. By Susan Getgood on March 13th, 2005 at 5:47 pm

    I’m a tad concerned about the definition of flogs, or fake blogs, as “blogs that companies create to generate publicity for themselves.” While it is certainly true that most (known) fictional/fake blogs have emanated from companies, I do not believe that all company developed/sponsored blogs are fake. There are many examples of blogs from companies with truly authentic voices and clearly stated objectives. Nothing fake there. LincolnFry was a fictional blog, flog if you want. GM’s Executive blog is not fake, but it certainly has publicity components.

    Let’s be careful in this definition that we don’t go too broad, and end up with an idea that all company blogs are fake.

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