Monday, March 14, 2005

Do blogs need a new style of PR firm?

Blogging has emerged as either the biggest change to the way the media works or just web sites with a bit more personality depending on who you talk to. For the PR profession the challenge is how to deal with this channel. Should agencies and in-house groups have people focused on blogs like HP and Cisco I believe now have? Or should blogging become something embedded into the way everyone does PR? This is of course reminiscent of the challenge the dot com revolution posed. Back in the 90s lots of PR firms set up dot com divisions, or even separate businesses in a bid to win lots of dot com clients. Of course these divisions and businesses were no more than a facade. The people in them knew little more about eCommerce than any other tech PR folk but at the time it was what the market wanted so they did it. The question right now is should the profession do the same thing for blogs? Looking back at the dot com PR era there are some interesting lessons to learn:

1. Most dot com agencies didn't develop specific dot com products. Instead of using the Internet to create new types of PR products most simply adapted traditional products. Ask yourself, can you think of five new ways to do PR because of blogs?
2. The skills of most dot com agencies didn't really change. Instead of hiring a new type of consultant with a new skill set, most agencies simply transferred people to the new agency. This is of course why most of the dot com divisions never really stood out. Again, ask the question, should you hire a different kind of person to focus on blogs?
3. The business models of most dot com agencies didn't change. Sure some agencies took stock instead of cash (most of course now regret that) but that wasn't a new model. A new model would have been a totally new pricing and staffing model. I think you can guess the question that comes here.

What does all this say? It says that unless as agencies we really plan on offering a totally new kind of service for those companies tackling the blogsphere then we shouldn't even consider the option of creating a new division or agency. Instead we should simply add the blogsphere to our audiences. If, however, we are prepared to offer something truly different then I can see every argument for the creation of a new vehicle to offer a new way of communicating.


Megan Tobin-Jones said...

You probably caught this on GlobalPRWeblog, but I think this interview with Seth Godin is very relevant to the questions you've posed here.

Seth usually tells it lik it is, and he makes no exception here. Besides his usual humor, he makes some specific points about RSS and Technorati that all PR pros, not just tech PR pros, should assimilate.
I discovered wikis and your blog from an NZ Textie interview presentation brief I did yesterday. And the knowledge I have gained has been worth the effort!
It's an STILL exciting time to be in PR, and the tech industry- the chaffe is gone and the real innovation is just beginning!

Mike Manuel said...

IMHO, we need a new type of PR practitioner. A hybrid. One that takes the fundamentals of PR, online marketing and of course journalism and blends them all together into a unique skill set. If new practices are to be built that embrace corporate transparency and leverage the social media movement, it should be on the shoulders of these “new” practitioners, or not at all…

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RanX said...

No, blogs don't need anything of the kind. N00b PR trolls who can't even set up spam filtering on their own blogs should just take themselves off the intarweb. That's it, really.

Oh, and that Godin tosser is boring.

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