Monday, December 18, 2006

PR / Marketing Trends of 2006

End of the year brings times of reflection.

Dan Greenfield, corporate communications for Eartlink, on his blog Bernaise Source asks, "What was (were) the most notable PR/marketing social media trend(s) or event(s) in 2006 and why?"

My vote would be the emergence of corporate / media "blogs".

I always use quotation marks when discussing these examples of the corporate world dipping a toe in the web 2.0 water because so often they just don't get it.

As Dan notes, large companies (and media behemoths) are more frequently bypassing traditional media sources and using "new media" outlets to promote, spin and attack. My glass is half full side sees this as a positive trend as it allows business people to fire off instant feedback without the usual layers of varnish.

My glass is half empty side knows that last statement is pure, unadulterated b.s.

Corporate / media blogs are often the realm of the glorified press releases, online versions of full articles and inane "hot buttons". In other words they don't understand the "rules.

Blogs are supposed to be the thoughts of the individual or the small collective. Not the carefully crafted blurbs of the Verizon "Poli Blog". More important to regular bloggers, Verizon violated two key commandments, sock puppetry and theft. Early posts were filled with comments from obvious Verizon employees lavishing praise on the new venture. The name it self was a straight copy of Dr. Steven Taylor's four year old PoliBlog. Sockpuppetry is bad enough but these guys don't even have the time and courtesy to google the name?

Blogs are supposed to be original thought. Full length articles are of course original thought. But a journalist simply dumping a fully crafted print article onto a "blog" is not blogging. Local media dude Jim Wooten dips into this sin several times a week. Jim has to be credited as one of the few mainstream journalist who at least tries. In fact, his "Thinking Right" column each friday might have been labelled blogging when blogging wasn't cool. But he still exhibits a need of all old media journalists to be perfect. Blogging is sometimes dirty, sometimes sloppy and almost always in the heat of the moment, not the cool logic that follows reflection and the input of editorial staff. It's supposed to be your hottest one night stand. Not thirty years of comfortable marriage.

It's not all bad. It is easy to slam papers like the AJC but it should be complimented for attaching a "blog" to many of it's online stories. These quick blurbs allow instant reader feedback. A hopeful trend that could lead the the old media dinosaurs out of the tar pits of declining readership.

For an even quicker adapter look no further than the St. Pete Times "Buzz Blog". It's an actual blog and became the center of the Foley firestorm.

Corporations and media giants are rarely early adapters. The desire to control an environment instead of flowing with the waves is not in the nature of the beast. You cannot control the environment of blogs. It is anathema to the concept and until the "corporates" understand this maxim, their "blogs" will continue to be the subject of ridicule by little "nobodies" like me.

UPDATE: Oh and another thing the corporate/media "blogs" don't get. Linking as a courtesy. Grayson and Rusty now have their thoughts up on the question of the day. Read them here and here.

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