I’ve decided to deal with the new social media technologies individually to describe what it is, show ways to use them for PR and offer resources. Since this is a blog, I’m going to start there. (Note, the information I am sharing here is what I’m learning as a beginner.)
In the survey I conducted a couple of weeks ago, every one of the respondents said they either know or “kind of” know what a blog is. You obviously do since you’re reading one right now.
I’ve heard lots of people say a blog is an online journal or web diary. (If that’s all it is, then it’s not really useful to me in my own work.) I know of one CEO who thinks the blogworld is just like talk radio with a lot of people spouting of their opinions ad nauseam toward no larger purpose. (Yes, I know that’s a narrow view of talk radio. But you can understand where it comes from.)
The big picture though is that a blog is really just a type of web site. Eric Schwartzman says it’s a way for “anybody to publish to the Internet for free and to be heard” Also, people don’t have to do something special to access it (like registering for a discussion board or usenet group). Plus it’s really easy to use.
The main difference I see between a typical web site and a blog though, is that a web site is usually one-way communication. It may be highly interactive, targeted, great communication. But most are essentially one-way. At least they are when compared to blogs. Blogs are intended to be places for dialog. I’ve seen several PR blogs talking about how to foster a community dialog via a blog. Neville Hobson says blogs “give people another means, an easy means from a technological point of view, to tell a story, and that’s a basic human need to communicate” (Stated on On the Record 3-3-06 podcast).
So, blogs can serve quite a number of communication purposes. Primarily, they can help you engage your key audiences. They can help you tell your story. They can be used to exchange ideas and learn ways to improve your products, services, etc. They can be used in a crisis to exchange information fast without having to fit it into your main web site’s structure. And much more.
The best way to learn about them is to visit some and to enter the conversation. What are your favorites?