So we come back to one of the main uses for a blog - medium. If PR is the art of spreading and managing a company’s messages across other peoples’ media by proxy, then blogging is using your own medium to disseminate those messages yourself.
- Micro media is changing the PR practice (i.e. weblogs and RSS news feeds and the Vanishing Mass Market)
- Fortune 500 companies are bandoning “the Universal Message” (McDonald’s marketing shift based on the idea that no single ad can tell the whole story)
- Use of many stories rather than one message to reach everyone (McDonald’s new strategy of brand journalism)
The real potential of blogging is to give branding a new meaning. Blogs can be the perfect tool for an ‘emergent brand’, where the brand is defined by a company’s a behaviour and is an expression of an authentic identity to a degree much greater than current branding and marketing allows. This is not top-down imposition of branding-by-committee, but a genuine brand that comes from the core of the company.
Paradoxically, authenticity is very hard to get right and the entire practice of branding, marketing and PR has been the opposite: constructing an edifice, projecting an image on top of whatever was bubbling and sometimes festering beneath the high-gloss surface. Engagement was a no-no, hiding from the customer routine and style over substance has ruled the day. Fortunately, the edifice is showing cracks and there are things that sprout forth in those cracks. Blogs are just an example of the process. May they long continue ruining the varnish.
Give a shit. Basically, that’s what this boils down to. Consumers are not a vast collection of numbers on a spreadsheet or a nice collection of 5 categories with silly marketing names like “early, suburban adopter.” They are people with real concerns that will, ultimately, lead to a better product. Listen and give a shit. That’s good marketing medicine.
Blogs also seem to attract a valued consumer demographic. A study released by Jupiter Research last year showed that 61 per cent of Internet users who read blogs at least once a month have an annual household income of $60,000 (U.S.) or more. A recent survey conducted by U.S.-based Web ad network Blogads revealed 61 per cent of blog readers are over the age of 30, and more than 45 per cent spend five to 10 hours reading blogs each week. It would be interesting to link this ‘blog metric’ to the concept of ”prosumers”…
...there is a wider group which marketers sometimes call “prosumers”; short for proactive consumers. Some people in the industry believe this group is the most powerful of all.
Euro RSCG, a big international agency, is completing a nine-country study of prosumers, which it says can represent 20% or so of any particular group. They can be found everywhere, are at the vanguard of consumerism, and what they say to their friends and colleagues about brands and products tends to become mainstream six to 18 months later.
Such people often reject traditional ads and invariably use the internet to research what they are going to buy and how much they are going to pay for it. Half of prosumers distrust companies and products they cannot find on the internet. If they want to influence prosumers, says Mr Lepere, companies have to be extremely open about providing information.
Further reading: Blogs and public relations