At its core, the blog — this potentially long-lasting technology that has turned news and information dissemination into a conversation between business and consumers — requires businesses to “be real” and fundamentally authentic, according to Scoble and Israel. A good blog should “build trust, interest, awareness, and enthusiasm,” and if it encompasses authenticity, will build credibility with readers and consumers.
This is the new public relations, replacing spin and canned quotes with requisite transparency and direct communication. Birthed by the evolution of the Internet, Web, and blogosphere is what I will call PR 2.0, a wave created by a fundamental alteration in how we communicate and how businesses and other newsmakers disseminate information and how consumers and the public ingest and digest information.
As Scoble and Israel explain in “Naked Conversations,” blogs have become so pervasive (and even more so, with tools like Twitter than can be added to social-networking profiles and the like) in modern communication that, soon, any business that censors employee blogs or doesn’t keep one itself may be considered with skepticism. Consumers who are engaged in the online world, or even just reading the occasional blog, develop opinions about a company as a whole based on its policy governing blogging by employees or how it integrates blogging into its communications or marketing practices.
This new form of communicating with consumers requires true transparency from corporations. Instead of a handful of professional journalist watchdogs who typically report from press releases, news conferences, and formal interviews, the business world now has to answer to a blogosphere of watchdogs.
Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection has the ability to promote or complain about a business or product, and with the viral dynamics of the blogosphere, these opinions can travel far and quickly. Smart companies will do well to embrace this new form of relating to the public by engaging in the conversation and not perceiving a complaint by a customer as a threat, but rather an opportunity. As Jeff Jarvis suggests in a post titled “Love the customer who hates you, “ “They care enough about your product or service to tell you exactly what went wrong. Other customers may just desert you and head to the competition. But these customers are telling you what to fix. Listen to them. Help them. Respond to them. Ask their advice – and they’ll give it to you …”
With this heightened watchdog population and increased requirement for transparency, consumers should expect a better product and better customer service from companies. Blogs have forever altered the conversation between companies and the public.
Engaging in PR 2.0, companies should heed Scoble and Israel’s 11 tips for successful blogging. They are:
1. Choose a simple name that will be recognized for its content in search engine results. This will make it easier for people to find the blog and engage in your conversation.
2. Read many other blogs before you begin blogging so you can learn what elements are successful and what aren’t, and incorporate that analysis into your own work.
3. Be simple and focused in your content and posting.
4. Blog with passion, in writing and post frequency.
5. Blog with authority, also in your topical relevancy.
6. Allow readers to comment, and answer them to engage conversation.
7. Be accessible by answering comments and making it easy for readers to contact you off-blog, such as by e-mail or telephone.
8. Offer narratives, by telling stories in individual postings and also by telling a larger story in your blog as a whole.
9. Link often to other blogs and sites as this increases your viral growth. Link not only to your own sites and those that frame you favorably, but also your competitors and agitators, as acknowledging these shows your transparency and your conversational nature.
10. Communicate outside the blogosphere, as restricting relationships to the blog are one-dimensional and shaky. Personalize your blog, when appropriate, with humanizing aspects like photographs and personal details.
11. Track and react to those who link to your blog and send others and engage them in conversation.