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« Is blogging the new PR? | Main | Shoot the focus group »

08 November 2005

Comments

Niall Cook

I agree, Elizabeth. I don't think the new communications tools will necessarily replace some of the more traditional techniques.

That said, I'm not sure that they are just "additive". I prefer "disruptive". The result of disruption is usually that both the disruptor and the disrupted change to become better and more effective.

Kristen E. Sukalac

Thanks for this perspective, Elizabeth. One of the things that drives me crazy about Blog Believers (or e-vangelists) is the implication that if you don't blog, you don't get "it". Well, the truth of the matter is that resources, including time, are limited. The tools might be additive in principle, but at the end of the day you can't do everything and have to make choices. That requires focusing on where you can be most effective. That in turn requires research. In its quest to promote high professional standards, IABC is a big advocate of research and measurement in organizational communications. These principles form the backbone of both the annual Gold Quill awards and the Accredited Business Communicator designation.

But I see very little of such discipline applied to world of blogs. It will be interesting to see the results of this year's Gold Quill awards, because there is a category on blogs, wikis, etc. for the first time.

And coming back to my original point, if I'm not blogging, it may be that I have yet to find compelling evidence that it would be a more effective way to reach my target audiences. Or it could be (as is the case for my term as IABC Europe and Middle East Region Chair) that I don't think I can dedicate the time to maintain a credible blog. Even today, the only reason I managed to find time to participate in this discussion is because I amm suffering from a bout of stress-related insomnia!

Elizabeth Albrycht

One thing I always tell organizations who are thinking about using these new tools is that they will have to take into account the amount of time they take to use, which can be significant. You can't simply add "blogging" to someone's job description and expect it will be done. As a new or experimental task, it will often fall to the bottom of the to-do list, when it requires significant investment in time and thought in order for it to be done right. The result is frustration and failure.

The effectiveness of these new tools will be discovered over time. New, more sophisticated measurement tools and methodologies are being developed which will help. As proof points are discovered, the priority of using these new tools will increase, solving the time-failure problem I referred to at the beginning of this comment.

One of the most challenging tasks of communications professionals today is balancing the use of new tools with traditional tools. In order to do that effectively, one has to keep up with the rapid changes in techniques and technologies, in itself no easy task. Hopefully, this session (and this blog!) will help.

Gerard Murray

In the opening post Neville made the statement: "You can ignore this new place or be part of it."

In my latest IABC Belgium blog I partly address this issue. It was a reaction both to my own efforts to promote awareness and understanding - not necessarily adoption - of the new media tools and a piece I read by Jonathan Schwarz of Sun Microsystems in the Harvard Business Review.

Therefore, I concur with Elizabeth's closing remarks. I don't understand this stuff that well yet myself. However, as a leader (albeit voluntary) of a professional communication association I feel a duty to help our members get their heads round it all. I think that, just as mobile phones improved our access and ability to communicate, these new tools can sit comfortably beside the more traditional approaches. Let's not forget that at one time the Pony Express was new....

Niall might be interested to learn that in Belgium we have entitled our series on new media "Disruptive Communicators".

Kristen makes a good point and one that also sheds some light on the other questions that I raised concerning blogging: why do I sense a true tardiness to not even adopt but just test out these tools in Europe. Shows of hands at recent events show that very few professional communicators are actually part of this new community. Do we therefore have first mover advantage or are we all wasting our time?!

My final question is whether IABC as an organisation is really doing enough to create this awareness and understanding for its members. We are offering a gentle, no risk, interactive introduction to new media at EuroComm, juxta-posed against many of the more traditional and pressing concerns of communicators, and yet attendance numbers in no way match those for the blogging event in Paris on 5th-6th December.

Several of you are speaking at the blogging event so what are your thoughts on this?

Elizabeth Albrycht

It makes me scratch my head a little when I see/hear PR people react to these new tools as threats. Perhaps they think if they ignore them they will go away?

Sure the fact that consumers now have voices can be a bit scary (no control anymore!), but the opporunities opened by these new tools are equally as vast, and very exciting.

Change is indeed a scary thing, but if we don't change to adjust to new environments we'll find ourselves like the dinosaurs - extinct. In fact, rather than "adjust" I'd say that communicators have the obligation to shape these environments. We made a mistake ceding websites the the technical dept. Let's not make the same one here.

As for Les Blogs, it is drawing from a far larger audience, not just professional communicators. Plus it is a rare opporunity for bloggers around Europe to get together and network with those from the US and other places. I'd say the majority of that audience falls in the category of "true believers".

Serge Cornelus

Believer or non-believer? Let's stick to careful outsider for now, as far as I am concerned. However, let me add one small remark to this discussion. Let's not overestimate the number of people blogging or reading blogs (yet). And let's not overestimate the interest that the not-yet-having-been-converted-to-blogging people have in the (wonderful, I admit) opportunities that blogs offer. Having only started a little blog of my own, I have been enthousiastically telling friends and colleagues (who, without hardly any exception, belong to the "internet generation") about my blogging experiences (however limited they may be). Belgians are usually relatively polite, not-in-your-face kind of people. But nevertheless, many reactions were lukewarm at best. Admittedly, this is hardly a representative sample of the Belgian population, but there are still a great number of non-enthousiasts when it comes to the net (even with the number of net users rising, in Belgium too), or to sitting in front of a pc screen (let's not talk about other ways of going on the net - the vast majority is not into that stuff yet). My conclusion: blogs can and will definitely be part of the new communications mix, but nothing more. It is an excellent tool for a very specific niche (yes, there are and will be exceptions), but with a daily information overdose of way over 90%, most people do not give a toss. One of the results of the internet bubble bursting? Maybe? In any case: let's see things in perspective and let's not use our own interest sphere as a measuring standard for others. It is a mistake I have seen many, even experienced communicators, make. Measure the potential impact first, then act upon those results. Like always: a sound communication strategy is based on common sense. When it comes to blogs, there is no reason why that should be different...

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