_Jennifer Evans is President of “Sequentia Communications”:http://www.sequentia.net, a Toronto-based marketing and public relations firm that specializes in helping companies acquire and retain customers through community building._
*One Degree:* “Have blogs changed the role of PR professionals in the last few years, and if so, how?”
*Jennifer Evans:* The world of PR is changing drastically. It used to be that you needed to use media as an outlet to reach the public, so media relations was one of the primary tenets of a public relations strategy. However, the Internet has completely changed all that – first of all by making it not only possible but economically feasible and efficient to reach the public without an intermediary. Secondly, it’s introduced a new layer of voices and ‘content creators’ that PR strategists need to factor into their planning: the blogger.
Blogging is huge, especially south of the border. One in five Americans “reads a blog”:http://poll.gallup.com/content/?ci=21397. In some cases, blogs have larger readership than traditional publications. So any good PR strategy now includes blogger outreach. This is a whole different beast than traditional media relations, however, and needs to be handled with kid gloves. Bloggers are not ‘journalists’ who publish a piece and then move on. Blogging is dialogue-driven, and “that dialogue is available for the whole world”:http://www.gothamist.com/archives/2006/01/07/new_york_skies.php to witness, as some have discovered to their chagrin!
A great blogging “outreach campaign I saw recently”:http://beltwayblogroll.nationaljournal.com/archives/2006/01/a_luxurious_jun.php was conducted by the Netherlands. Brilliant use of the medium and the influence. Because this is such a new medium however and the “ethical rules and general rules of engagement”:http://www.cyberjournalist.net/news/000215.php are barely developed let alone universal, there is still lots of room for controversy. And of course, “it’s bloggers who are blogging about it!”:http://www.gridskipper.com/travel/amsterdam/amsterdam-blogger-payola-scandal-151496.php
To summarize, a good PR strategy should definitely take into account who’s blogging on the topic, and a managed outreach approach. But realize that blogger outreach is not the same as media relations and ensure that your strategy is not going to alienate them, or you will read about it and so will the rest of the world!