"The survey shows a disconnect between the ways companies have
traditionally communicated with the blogosphere and how these bloggers
want and expect to be communicated with now. The top-down, one-way,
press release culture has to be supplanted by an approach based on
dialogue and co-creation of brands and corporate reputation. In fact,
in many of our client programs we’re already seeing a fundamental
re-ordering of the relationship between markets and marketers, with the
blogosphere providing a channel for real input and dynamic discussion.
Smart companies have also recognized the potential for inside-out
communications, with empowered employees and informed consumers as the
best sources of credible commentary."
Here are the findings:
First, why do bloggers’ blog?
Thirty four percent – the highest
number—blog in order to be visible authorities in their field. This
means that bloggers are highly engaged; seek the best sources of
information; and bring a natural desire to participate and advance the
discussion in their field. That makes them an important audience for
corporations and public relations professionals but they have largely
been ignored- 48% of bloggers are never contacted by companies or their
PR representatives. According to the open-ended questions, bloggers’
biggest frustration is that companies don’t realize how influential
blogs are, and that they don’t interact with bloggers.
The survey shows that bloggers do care about products and companies.
Fifty one percent of bloggers post about companies, their employees and
their products at least once a week. Many bloggers consider companies
to be trusted sources of information about their own products: 45%
think company communications are "somewhat trusted" and 35% think they
are highly trustworthy. PR firms could do better: 33% do not trust
communications from PR firms, though 21% do consider information from
PR firms to be trust worthy. 85% see corporate blogs as somewhat or
occasionally trustworthy, and 18% think employee blogs are very
Companies need to participate in the conversation.
Only 16% of
bloggers receive personal emails inviting discussion. 41% have no
interaction; 20% receive a form email and 15% receive a press release.
We’re seeing an inversion of the traditional pyramid of influence –
the top-down approach to communications: Senior company executives who
blog (yes, that includes me) are only half as believable (19%) as
company employees who blog (35%).
Trust is becoming far more personal: bloggers trust information from
their peers more than any other source. In fact, they prefer learning
from other bloggers by about 3 to 1 (63% to 21%) over hearing from a
The data challenges the preconception that bloggers are
irresponsibly careless with facts and don’t care about accuracy as much
as speed to market. In fact, 39% of bloggers will strike through an
error and correct it, 25% will create a post with new information and
24% will leave the error but add a correction. By a 2 to 1 margin,
bloggers prefer to be contacted by email to correct an error, over
posting a comment.
What does this mean for PR? I believe that the way we communicate with bloggers will increasingly be central to our success.
The old techniques not only don’t work in the new world, they erode
trust and turn bloggers off. The way in which we’ve communicated is
insufficient – we’ve relied far too much on press releases or form
email. We need to help companies enter the conversation, but they can
only do that with respect, humility and honesty.
Companies must enter the blogosphere in ways that respect its values
and norms. We should never assume we can barge into a conversation; we
need to ask permission to interact. We must always be transparent about
who we are and what our motives are. Communications should be based on
genuine understanding of each person’s interests and needs. When
companies or agencies act duplicitously, we should recognize that they
are interfering with human conversation, and we should not stand for