Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Lesson Two: Get Acquainted with the Blogs

In this lesson, we will explore several blogs related to public relations and communications as a way of learning more about social media. We will also learn how to monitor blog conversations related to your organization, client or industry. Later on in the year, we’ll expand on all this. I am not going to suggest that you start a blog at this time (if ever). So you can breathe now.

First, let’s talk about what blogs are in the first place. A blog is a type of web site. It uses some kind of blogging software to operate. You can use blogging software for other purposes as well without actually having a blog. So what makes a blog a blog. There’s some debate about this, but most I think would agree that a blog has these elements:

• Blog posts appear in reverse chronological order, with the most recent at the top.

• Blogs use RSS to send their headlines to people who want them.

• Most blogs enable comments to be made by visitors. Some bloggers chose to moderate those comments before they show up on the blog.

• Most blogs use tagging to help people find their content. Tagging is another term for keywords. When a blogger writes a post, he or she assigns certain keywords to indicate what the post is about. Readers who search for one of those terms will find the blog post.

Those are the structural elements. The main difference between a web site and a blog from an organizational standpoint is that a web site is the formal “official voice” of the organization and a blog is typically opinion, informal and conversational. Web sites are written by organizations, blogs are written by individuals. The result is that blogs invite two-conversation rather than the “traditional” one-way speak.

From a PR perspective, 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. They can help you learn what your publics are thinking and what they care about. And much more.

Homework

If you’re reading this, you’ve obviously read at least one blog. I have a list of a few others that you might want to visit. But I’d really like to know what blogs you like best. Leave a comment and let other readers know too.

(in alpha order)
A Shel of My Former Self, by Shel Holtz
http://blog.holtz.com/

Bryper.com, by Brian Person
http://www.bryper.com/

Communication Overtones, by our own Kami Huyse, APR
http://overtonecomm.blogspot.com/

Disruptive Conversations, by Dan York
http://www.disruptiveconversations.com/

Forward Blog, by a group of students, faculty and professionals
http://www.forward-moving.com/blog/

NevilleHobson.com, by Neville Hobson
http://www.nevillehobson.com/

Trafcom News, by Donna Papacosta
http://trafcom.typepad.com/blog/

3 comments:

Dan York said...

Christie,

Thanks for mentioning my blog and also for starting this series of posts. More tutorials helping people understand how to listen to and engage in the conversation are definitely great to see.

Thanks,
Dan York

Donna Papacosta said...

Christie, I echo Dan York's comment: Thanks for including my Trafcom News blog and for doing these posts. I will be pointing my colleagues to your blog. Many are just starting to wake up to blogs and RSS!

Neville Hobson said...

Thanks from me as well, Christie. That's quite an eclectic group you've included me in!