Bill Sledzik, associate professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at Kent State University, Ohio brings us news that 72 per cent of PRs have no formal way to monitor blogs. (Tip of the hat to Judy Gombita).
Additional topline findings from the survey, conducted in association with media monitoring service BurrellesLuce, include:
72.3% of respondents say they have no formal procedure for monitoring the content of blogs that may impact their businesses. Another 8% aren’t sure.
Of the 18.5% of [respondents whose] organizations…use blogs: 78.3% use blogs to connect with customers and end users; 42.8% to reach news media; 39.8% to communicate with employees.
16.5% of respondents say they are aware of existing employee blogs that discuss work-related activities, but very few actually monitor those blogs.
While the business case for companies starting their own blogs is yet to be *conclusively* proved by Forrester, there should be enough cautionary tales out there (Dell; Kryptonite) to persuade PRs that they should at least be monitoring what people are saying about their clients.
Seem sensible? In theory yes, but in practice, no. You’re reading this very niche blog about a very narrow subject. You’re engaged in the blogging community either as a reader, commenter or blogger. You know all this stuff already.
The 72 per cent of PRs who don’t monitor blogs are blissfully unaware of how the phrase “dell hell” originated or who “kryptonite” is. They may know from conversational experience that Dell has lousy customer service or that some bike locks could get picked with a pen cap, but they don’t know the deeper stories and communications learnings behind these anecdotal tid bits.
Advice for Junior/Mid-level PRs
If your account director/VP doesn’t make you monitor social media, why not manage upwards and get her to see why it’s important? Don’t march brazenly into her office and demand the account becomes focused on the citizen journalist; do it in a more insiduous way.
Start monitoring by yourself. Get a feedreader, set up some Technorati/Google Blog searches. Set up Google News alerts. Use Google Trends to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns and include the (free) graphs in your monthly reports.
We hear what they’re saying…what next?
You’ve successfully integrated blog monitoring into your account team’s repetoire and your client’s given you a mandate to reach out to key bloggers in your market. What do you do now?
I’d recommend doing what I did with the media when I moved to Canada. I worked out who the key journalists were for the accounts I worked on and gave them a call to introduce myself, my client list and to find out what they needed from me.
Do the same with bloggers. Work out the top…20 bloggers for a client. Subscribe to their feeds and read them for a month. Leave a couple of comments (with full disclosure of course) or introduce yourself to them by email.
Get their permission to send them interesting news from the client and, if they agree, send them highly personalized notes. If they don’t want to get information from you, you’ve still got some 55 million other people who may and you’ve saved yourself and the client from an embarrassing entry in the Bad Pitch Blog. Congrats!
Analyze the results then rinse and repeat until you have a highly targeted list of bloggers who view you as a trusted source of information. It’s hard work, but it pays off eventually. Unfortunately, laziness pays off now.