As I sat here trying to write a blog post, I began to think about the significance of blogging. Curious if it was actually worth the effort, I embarked on a journey to discover why public relations uses blogging as a tool to communicate with the public.
The web log started in the early 1990’s and since then has took off (Horton, 2002). Today they are more commonly referred to as blogs. People blog about a wide variety of topics, anything from lifestyle to cars to politics. If you can think of it, there is a blog for it. Blogs are created in reverse chronological order, typically with the most recent post at the top and older entries following (Kent, 2008). Successful blogs are built on a key relationship with their audience, and are aware that without their audience they would not survive or succeed (Kent, 2008). One of the best ways to ensure the blog will build a strong following is to establish credibility from the beginning. Check references and make sure that facts are accurate to ensure the blog is considered a reliable source.
Blogging in Public Relations
Blogging is one of the many elements used in public relations. A blog is able to serve as a direct link to the public for honest, open, and active communication (“Blogs as Excellent”, n.d.). A public relations worker will pitch stories and the company or organization to current bloggers covering relevant topics. It is then up to the blogger whether or not they decide to blog about the company. This allows for the business’ story to be communicated to the audience (“Public Relations”, n.d.). As a business you are able to then take control of the culture and context being presented to the public through the selection of your blogger. Depending on the style your business is looking for this could help to make the company seem more relatable. By finding a blogger with an unfiltered voice, it will connect with the audience to create the image that the business too is filled with real people (“Blogs as Excellent”, n.d.). During times of crisis blogs provide unlimited access to the public, which means they can be updated in real time what is happening with the crisis (“Blogs as Excellent”, n.d.). Blogging is a fast, efficient, and cost effective way to inform the public of your business (“Public Relations”, n.d.).
Blogging is Not Paid Media
Blogging as a form of public relations is not paid media. Those working in public relations will present relevant stories to writers and the writer will either chose to cover the topic or not. PR pros are constantly working to entice media coverage by pitching stories and presenting brand information to media outlets (Falls, 2010). The blogger would then willingly post the information to their site because they believe it is relevant to their audience. Occasionally, a blogger may choose to post material about a company without any PR input (Falls, 2010). Whichever case the information is presented to the public in it is important that it is honest. It’s important to select a blogger who believes in being open and honest with their audience. In a time of crisis or problem concerned customers and the public will see the blog as giving honest answers. This will help the business’ reputation and may even increase the public’s trust (“Blogs as Excellent”, n.d.).
Power of Strong Relationships
Not only should public relations professionals select bloggers whom they have strong relationships with, they should select bloggers who have a strong relationship with their audience. It’s important to have strong relationships with the blogger because the more they write about the topic the higher they are brought into the search engine. By attaching a blog to the company’s website it will enhance search engine optimization benefits (Gando, n.d.). Blog owners frequently link to interesting content without expecting anything in return, which can be highly beneficial for your business (“Blogs as Excellent”, n.d.). The business should also ensure that the target audience of the blog matches their target audience. This will allow for monitoring and environmental scanning tools to be used to evaluate the success of the partnership with the blog owner (Kent, 2008). In today’s world anyone can blog, so to find successful uses of public relations in blogging the blogger must be credible. Select a blog owner carefully for they hold what the public vies as honest and genuine information about the company (“Blogs as Excellent”, n.d.).
Risk and Reward
There is some risk with using blogging as a form of communication. Controlled messages may be viewed as propaganda messages (Kent, 2008). They also run the risk of using uncontrolled messages, where the business must place their trust into the hands of a blog owner. This may result in poorly placed articles or blog posts that aren’t given adequate attention (Kent, 2008). Despite the risks many companies benefit from some form of a blog.
Blogs are a great way to connect with the public on a more personal level. They are a place to present up to date behind the scenes information about the company. By giving the public a behind the scenes look, it demonstrates the reliability and credibility of the blog owner as a good source for information (“Public Relations”, n.d.). This is a great spot to showcase new products and services or a change to the industry. Give the public the information in an informal and conversational manner to show value in their opinion. Hot topics can be addressed through a blog and can be updated as many times as necessary to get the message across (“Public Relations”, n.d.). The blog owner will write about the culture surrounding the products and services of the company. Which will allow them to establish a genuine relationship through publishing original and cutting-edge content on a regular basis. Blogging is a very effective way to establish a genuine communication with the public.
Blogs as Excellent Public Relations Tools – SEO Chat. (2004). Retrieved November 08, 2016, from http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Website-Promotion-Help/Blogs-as-Excellent-Public-Relations-Tools/
Falls, J. (2010, March 15). What Bloggers Should Know About Public Relations And Advertising. Retrieved November 09, 2016, from https://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/content-sections/news-and-noise/what-bloggers-should-know-about-pr-and-advertising/
Gando, B. (n.d.). Blogging Used for Public Relations. Retrieved November 07, 2016, from http://socialnetworking.lovetoknow.com/Blogging_Used_for_Public_Relations
Horton, J. L. (2002). PR and Blogging-How To Think About It. Retrieved November 7, 2016, from http://www.online-pr.com/Holding/PRandBloggingarticle.pdf
Kent, M. L. (2008). Critical analysis of blogging in public relations. Public Relations Review, 34(1), 32-40. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2007.12.001
Public Relations and blogging: A match made in heaven? (n.d.). Retrieved November 08, 2016, from https://publicrelationssydney.com.au/blogging-and-pr/