Next up - a panel discussion chaired by Steve Rubel. On the panel:
- Bonita Stewart (Daimler Chrysler)
- Andrew Bernstein (Cymfony)
- Dan Forbush (PR NewsWire)
- Lloyd Trufelman (Trylon Communications)
Steve only started MicroPersuasion a year ago, and he now has ~5000 regular readers. He's big on having people just give blogging a shot. One question to each of the panelists from Steve, starting with Lloyd - What's the value of a blog "placement" (i.e., a mention on a major blog). Answer: It depends on what it's about - and it's also the case that the hype on blogs is huge (think 1996 and websites). His take - a lot of blogs won't survive the march of time (inertia, cost, time, etc). His take is that this is another medium, but let's not go bats.
To Dan - if Lloyd is correct (it's a bigger media space, blogs are just a piece of it) - what does that mean for PR? What it means is that PR pros can be disintermediated much, much more easily now, and that means that PR folks have to work harder. Andrew is more interested in RSS as a query mechanism more than he's interested in blogging itself - it's the ease of syndication that matters, not blogs.
To Bonita - how did you sell blogging at Daimler-Chrysler? They set up a department, using the existing web analytics group. They didn't rush in to build a blog - they started by listening to what consumers have been saying about their products. The example she gives is kind of amusing - talking about the consumer buzz about the introduction of the Dodge Charger. Amusing, because I drove a 2 door Charger hatchback back in the 80's. Makes me wonder how many new ideas the car companies are really having... and worse, for this marketer, it totally distracted me from the brand point she wanted to make. Hmmm.
What they do is circulate a weekly buzz report that talks about both consumer and media reactions to their messaging over time. This gives them a level of feedback that they simply weren't getting (at least, not that fast) before.
To Andrew, what can marketers do with this information? Cymfony builds analytic information above the consumer information available. What they do, apparently, is create virtual focus groups out of the sea of consumer generated information.
Question from the audience - is blog reading bigger than we realize, simply because consumers, when asked, aren't always aware of what they are reading (blogs, stock website, etc). There's some of that I'm sure, but I find this very offputting - it's a matter of the "pros" (in this case, PR people) treating the "unwashed masses" as morons. This is exactly the reason that mainstream media and reporters have earned so much disdain - the clear assertion of arrogant superiority.
Good point from the audience here - blogging is not a broadcast mechanism, and treating it as one is a huge mistake. Lloyd would have us believe that this is no different than letters to the editor and pamphlets, only faster. That's profoundly wrong, because the MSM never paid attention to letters. They've been forced to listen to blogs.
Interesting question - is this mostly a US based thing, or is it really international? It's spreading worldwide, but a lot of it depends on the level of speech rights that are allowed in a given area. That makes it harder or easier, depending on where you look.
Heh - good questions - do corporations actually engage in conversations based on this, or do they just pay lip service? Bonita makes the point that corporations will find out quickly that they can't treat this strictly as classic marketing push, and you'll pay a price for doing so. I'd agree with this - going back to what Scoble said earlier, you'll get a conversation either way - it all depends on whether you want to engage or not.
The pubsub guys point out that they are seeing more and more blogs popping up internationally - as well as commentary on anything you say.