Taking off the hob nail boots..

Gary Goldhammer is absolutely correct, his criticism of my last post is justified, I should have “slept on it” before pushing the publish button, so I send my apologies to Daniel.

You can mark it down to fatigue, a knee jerk response to hyperbole. To make amends here’s a more balanced exploration of some of the more common chestnuts one reads….

Blogs are a killer app…
This is something I’ve argued against for years. Blogs are a tool. That’s it. They’re not the cure to the ills of the world, they’re not going to single handedly destroy traditional media, they’re not going to destroy PR. They are simply an easy way to publish web pages with links and great additional features like comments, trackbacks and of course RSS. Is that to say blogs are not exciting, interesting or valuable? Nope. Blogs foster a new type of conversational communication but anyone waiting for blogs to change the world will be disappointed. Chant with me: “You have no clothes on, you have no clothes on…”

PR is Dying/Dead/Doomed
I think Tom Foremski’s comment on Daniel’s second post sent me over the edge. [He wrote: “Blogging is a killer app, it is killing PR as we know it. Which is probably a good thing since the “old” PR as we know it, is full of inefficiencies and out dated practices but, it does have a business model…”] Oh Lord.

If we’re saying Web 2.0 is all about conversations and organizations getting better at communicating with their audiences, then how can the profession with all the communication skills be doomed? With all due respect, the individuals promoting this vision seem to have a limited knowledge of PR – normally reserved to e-mailed press releases, telephone pitches and press conferences. The fact that these individuals believe that’s all PR is about, means they’re simply speaking from ignorance. PR encompasses staff, investors, local communities, regulators, civil servants etc. etc. it’s not just about the media – though they remain important. It’s not just about news announcements – though they remain important. It’s a whole lot more than that.

If anyone seriously things face-to-face communication or any of the traditional PR skills such as good oral communication, good attention to detail, analytical thinking etc. aren’t relevant in the world of “Web 2.0”, they are sadly mistaken – they’re more relevant. And while some new tools, techniques and channels are emerging, they are an adjunct to our traditional tools, techniques and channels – not a replacement.

Web 2.0 = Death
Web 1.0 was all about the death of existing media, retail stores, consulting services etc. etc. [delete as applicable]. The reality is that the dot com entrepreneurs sold us a simplistic revolutionary vision (that we all bought) when the reality is that the Internet is about evolution. The proponents of Web 2.0 (with really annoying TLA’s such as MSM) are selling a similar proposition. Web 2.0 isn’t about the death of anything, it’s about extending the online experience and allowing us to do more things better. It doesn’t mean we’ll be spending the rest of our lives in our pyjamas sitting in our bedrooms staring at computer screens – well not me anyway.

PR Blogs are all about now
Most bloggers measure their success on visitors. When you post a story you track if anyone is reading, linking or commenting on the story – it’s an immediacy thing. After a while you forget about that post and move on. This immediate gratification behaviour may reflect the immaturity of blogging. Think about this…

Let’s talk just about PR for a moment. As more and more PR people come online and participate in blogging (through writing, reading, commenting or debating), a massive rich ecosystem of PR knowledge is being created. With the improvements in search technology people can find relevant information and knowledge in seconds. While keeping up with your favourite blogs will remain important, a growing volume of blog traffic will begin to come from your archives – or as our Web 2.0 proponents would say: The Long Tail.

Let’s not try and restrict PR people from blogging, instead we should be encouraging more and more PR people to participate in the blogging phenomenon so that we can all learn from each other. Yes there may be opinions we disagree with (oops) or information that might be irrelevant, but we’re still creating an amazing PR resource.

Furthermore, the more PR people who blog, the better understanding our profession will have of the tool.

So, Daniel please accept my apologies. However my advice remains the same.

Step away from the Kool Aid and think about how these tools will help you communicate more effectively on behalf of your clients and possibly increase your professional knowledge and expertise. Anything beyond that is excess.