Sunday, February 25, 2007

First Reason for Monitoring Blogs for Public Relations – And a Word About Reporting

Next installment of "Learning about Social Media from Your Desk"

There are at least reasons in public relations to monitor blogs:
• To find blog posts that mention your company
• To know what certain bloggers are saying about your industry
• To know what online conversations related to your industry or company

The first is both the easiest and the most obvious. Plus, you can easily justify the time you may spend on it. The nickname for this is “ego-surfing.”

The most time-consuming way to do this would be to go to Technorati, Blogpulse and Google blog search (or others) a couple of times a day and search for posts that include your company’s name, your CEO or client’s name, and a key product or brand name.

But why would you do this when we’ve got the power of RSS at our fingertips?

You can actually go to these services and create a unique RSS feed for your specific search terms and have the results show up in your RSS feed reader.

1. Today’s homework is to set up some RSS searches for your organization. Listen to Bryan Person’s how-to NewCommRoad podcast episode, “Ego-surfing with RSS.” It’s only 14 minutes. It will pay off fast.

2. The next thing to figure out will be what to do with what you find. The answer will depend on your processes and the volume of results you get. This year, in addition to my reports of media coverage, I started providing a separate report of blog posts. There were lots of practical judgment calls I have faced. For example, when a relevant post is on an influential blog that has lots of comments, at what point do you print it out as your file copy? I decided to include in my reports posts that mention our story but are on blogs that aren’t related to our industry. I did this because we are interested in whether or not people are talking about a particular social issue, so it doesn’t matter whether the issue is the focus of their blog or not.

And forget about trying to measure audience sizes. You can’t possibly. And it isn’t relevant anyway. The more important factor is which bloggers are more influential. You’ll start to distinguish those as you monitor them.

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