New Media Trainee

February 13, 2007

Naked Conversations and a glass of google juice, please.

Filed under: Uncategorized — tenftpole @ 7:19 pm

Naked Converstions by Scoble and Israel shows how blogging is changing the world of business. There are insightful interviews with business people, from CEOs to a t-shirt maker in France which illustrate how blogs are changing interactions with the media, customers, as well as how PR is practiced . For a long time, businesses have used one-way communications (ads, press releases, etc.), to connect with the public, but in the era of consumer choice, it’s becoming more difficult to reach target audiences using these traditional means. Scoble and Israel suggest that the answer is blogging because they facilitate conversations with customers. These conversations not only build trust and improve reputations of companies, but have very practical uses, such as taking advantage of your customer’s collective knowledge to improve products.

 

One of the most interesting examples of how blogs have improved reputation is the case of Microsoft, known as the “evil empire.” Joshua Allen was the first Microsoft employee to start a blog in 2000. Microsoft at the time had a horrible reputation and was getting horrible publicity. Allen remembers, “I wanted to say that I am a Microsoft person and you can talk with me (p. 11).” Now, there are 1,500 employees blogging and Microsoft’s reputation has improved because of it, in addition to Gate’s philanthropic generosity. Blogs have allowed Microsoft to show its humanity through conversations with customers. It shows just how powerful blogs can be. Their Channel 9 video blog which has unedited interviews with employees is another cool way of communicating with their customers. Another great example of how blogs can improve a small business and improve sales is that of Mahon, a Savil suit tailor. He started a blog about tailoring and his writing exuded his passion for suit making. His business skyrocketed, because he connected with those customers who appreciated his passion, and his technical detail to his craft. What better way to market your product than to write about it, and it’s free. No marketing required!!!!

 

Scoble and Israel suggest CEOs of companies would be wise to join in the revolution. They claim it’s the best way to address criticisms of your company and to thank people for their praise. Take the media for example. A lot of CEOs have been frustrated with the media because of inaccurate stories or bias. A CEO with a blog can tell their side of the story in their own voice and with instant feedback from the community. General Motor’s Bob Lutz says “blogs can be…an equalizing force when dealing with media criticism.” A profound thought.

 

As a pr dude, I think this book should be a wake up call for any of us in pr who are still practicing “command and control” public relations. Scoble and Israel’s messages about the value of blogs can be utilized by many fields, but I think pr is especially relevant here. PR is all about messages and reputations. We’re losing control of the message because consumers have more choices and there always seems to be an alternative product. I’m not saying that blogs are the only answer for the future of pr, but they should be considered as a tactic, a valuable tool, to include in any strategic communications plan.

 

We can no longer shoot out press releases and expect to reach a majority of the target audience. We must use blogs or approach bloggers to post our information in order start conversations with our potential customers or constituents. It’s important though, that we don’t look at a blogger the same as a journalist. We can’t pitch them news releases and think they’re going to post them. We have to be open and honest. It’s a paradigm shift, no doubt. We are opening ourselves to criticism and releasing control of the message in some respects. But, in the end, the future of business is going to be about relationships and transparency. My advice, don’t be the middle man, be the facilitator of these conversations. Yes, it takes a lot of time to blog, but I think it’s worth it. You’ll gain a lot more than you lose.

 

Dan Gillmor, author of We The Media, would appreciate this book. It repeats a lot of what he says, but it is applied outside the world of journalism. He may even agree that blogs are currently having an even more powerful impact on businesses. Gilmore’s book really showed the potential uses of blogs and gave some initial examples of how they were being used in 2004, and Naked Conversations, published 2 years later, provides us with even more examples of the power of blogs. I think all three authors would agree that everyone should blog and blog often. We are all thirsty for “google juice.”

Geoff

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