Dawn Lindgren, a Senior Account Executive at Weber Shandwick in Minneapolis, offered to give me some insight into how PR agencies view blogs.
RM: When did you first hear about blogs?
DL: I first heard about blogs about a year and a half ago outside of the PR Industry circles. Today, talk of blogs has become a little more commonplace in the PR industry. We're aware that they are out there, but there really isn't a defined plan on how to utilize them when promoting our clients. I think there is still too much unknown information on their true value and how that can be translated to what we provide for our clients.
RM: Does your company send news releases to blogs on a regular basis? If so how many do they pitch to on a regular basis?
DL: We only send local office releases (new hires, new biz win, promotions, etc.) to industry related blogs that we are familiar with. For clients, we haven't really had buy-in from them that they want us to send releases to particular blogs.
I'd say that we pitch about 3 releases a month to the industry blog.
RM: Are there risks associated with pitching to bloggers?
DL: I think so. As much as blogs are a great new source of obtaining information about certain topics and gauging public interest and perception on those topics, they also can take on the feel of a one-sided chat room, where one person is stating their opinion on that subject matter. If that opinion doesn't match completely with the company/client that you are promoting, you may end up doing some damage control.
RM: Have your clients requested that you monitor blogs related to their business?
DL: I think that our clients are aware that blogs exist, but aren't instructing us to monitor what is said. Again, there's still that perception that blogs are "opinion" pieces and what one person says, doesn't necessarily make for worry at this time. However, if there is a project that our client is working on that is highly controversial or may develop strong public opinions, it's smart to monitor bloggers that show both the pro and con side to the project. Some bloggers are journalists who have a day job working for top print publications and their blogs are going to be seen as more credible than others.
RM: What impact do you see blogs having on the future of journalism/PR?
DL: I think the main concern right now is credibility.
If I'm a journalist that writes for the New York Times and I develop my own blog, chances are it's going to be seen as more credible than Joe Smith, random guy - even though Joe Smith might be passionate and more educated than the journalist on specific subject matter.
For PR, I could see blogs being rolled into media relations plans for monitoring purposes once a system of gauging credibility and reach is created.
If every industry identified credible blogs (those that see both sides of issues and provide effective banter) then you will have buy-in.
RM: Thanks Dawn.