To explain the relationship I had to describe the differences between public relations strategy and media relations. Additionally, the question was put to me within the context of public relations agencies and how the work they do relates to corporate blogging. First I suggested that when a businessperson thinks of a public relations agency, typically you expect that agency's chief business to be media relations, or the ability to place stories in media publications. I explained in detail how media relations professionals would approach the process of placing a story. In the process I also described public relations strategy.
To help explain public relations strategy I related a story about my time at RedV Network where as Marketing Director for the company I was marketing pop-up protection software to ISPs. This was in 2002, and at the time, three of the largest ISPs were developing stories about consumer’s frustrations with the Internet through spam, viruses, and pop-ups. The large ISPs developed a public relations and advertising strategy, where ISPs were solving their customer’s frustrations with the Internet rather than pushing a connection to the Internet. That's because consumers were more sophisticated than just wanting a connection; consumers wanted ISPs to solve their frustrations with the Internet. ISPs did this by offering anti-spam software, virus protection and pop-up blockers as part of their services. I wrote about this story in an article in 2003 on consumer Internet frustration.
The ISP PR strategy was putting their products within consumers current concerns about the Internet, describing the relevancy of the ISPs services within the context of the current consumer concerns. There was a massive media relations effort to pitch these consumer frustration stories to journalists. The stories were often published because consumers at the time were frustrated with spam, viruses and pop-up's, and so journalists were willing to write and print such stories as they were very relevant to their audiences.
Returning to the original question of how public relations relates to corporate blogging, I would say that if you are blogger you have to develop a public relations strategy for your products and services. You have to understand how your product related to your customer's current concerns and issues. As a corporate blogger to find out about those concerns and issues, you have to identify the blogs in your community, subscribe to those blogs, and monitor them. Over time you will gain an understanding of the most important themes in a community. In my book, "Strategies and Tools for Corporate Blogging," I wrote a chapter detailing a blogging assessment of the auto blogging community. I found three big themes across auto blogs.
- Conducting reviews of cars, this one was pretty obvious.
- Green technology for cars and trucks.
- Bashing both the Ford and General Motors management teams for doing a poor job of running their companies.
If any company in the auto industry wrote a blog, and was able to put their products within the context of all three issues in any posts, then that company would have a better shot of being more relevant to readers. Public relations strategy for bloggers is partly how you develop your content strategies for a blog.
Image by: FreeDigitalPhotos.net