Friday, March 2

Failings In Public Relations: Kent State

Although Bill Sledzik admits the early work is exploratory (conducting 938 self-selected survey participants and 54 in-depth interviews), preliminary results of a Kent State University/BurellesLuce survey are disturbing. Seventy-two percent of public relations professionals do not have a formal system for monitoring the blogosphere. Initial findings include:

• 72.3 percent of respondents say they have no formal procedure for monitoring the content of blogs that may impact their businesses (8 percent aren’t sure).
• 18.5 percent say they work for organizations that use their own blogs to facilitate communication with key stakeholders.
• Of the 18.5 percent of organizations that use blogs: 78.3 percent use blogs to connect with customers and end users; 42.8 percent to reach news media; 39.8 percent to communicate with employees.
• Of those who use blogs in their PR strategies: 63.2 percent use them to enhance branding efforts; 57.1 percent to facilitate two-way communication with key stakeholder groups; 46 percent to improve trust between those groups and the organization.
• 16.5 percent of respondents say they are aware of existing employee blogs that discuss work-related activities, but very few actually monitor those blogs.
• 10.7 percent of respondents say they have a formal policy related to employee blogging.

According to Sledzik, public relations pros do not monitor blogs because: 1) no budget for staff or services to do the job; 2) no perceived need to do the job. “It hasn’t been an issue,” one respondent said of blogs. “Right now it is not impacting our organization,” said another. Some expressed concern that blog monitoring is a complex and time-consuming process.

Given the amount of apparent social media ignorance among public relations practitioners who don't seem to have time to subscribe to "Google alerts" for their clients, among other "complex" tasks, I have to agree 100 percent with Sledzik that this thinking has "the potential to bite them in the backside."

It's doubly true when you consider that social media is becoming more influential over traditional media than so-called paid public relations practitioners. Hmmm... maybe the signs outside the some doors should read "media relations," assuming they know the difference. Then they can get back to calling reporters to pitch a lunch date in lieu of sending out another poorly written release with a clear conscious.

Sorry if I sound harsh here, but I strongly believe that companies should know: if your public relations firm is not monitoring social media, then the firm is not doing its job. We're not a public relations firm and we monitor social media for our clients (and most don't even know it). It's common sense.

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5 comments:

Bill Sledzik on 3/3/07, 6:21 AM said...

I don't think you're being at all harsh, Rich. Companies who aren't monitoring social media are at risk of missing important information that can and will bite them in the behind.

When I saw your headline, I was sure you were commenting on my posts of this past Thursday and Friday. Those posts recount a story of how buzz in the blogs led to much damage to my university and its reputation -- most of it based not on fact but political babble. Problem is, we didn't get out ahead of it.

Here's the link: http://toughsledding.wordpress.com/2007/03/01/when-a-blogospheric-blow-up-hits-the-mainstream-kent-state-in-the-news/

Bill Sledzik on 3/3/07, 6:23 AM said...

One last item, Rich. I tried to post the previous comment and link it to my own. Blogger wasn't being at all cooperative (one of the many reasons I don't reside there).

Blogger insisted I open a Google account. Tried to do that and ended up with a nameless blog with my name on it.

My real link: http://toughsledding.wordpress.com

Rich on 3/3/07, 10:04 AM said...

Thank you so much for dropping by and yes, the recent Kent State story is of interest, especially because of the impact of perception over reality (political babble over fact) in communication. It's something I am considering for next week.

You're also right that Blogger/Google is not always the cooperative. The lack of having trackbacks not withstanding. This is the first I heard of someone not being able to add a link in a comment so thanks for bringing it my attention. Since Blogger seems to be making some progress, I decided against migrating for the time being. Although I admit, having become a contributor on a Typepad blog, there is ample temptation.

Thanks again for the worthwhile content and comment. I look forward to seeing how it plays out. All my best.

Note: Yes, Blogger was not cooperative for me when I attempted to add Bill's links as noted.

Sterling on 3/4/07, 3:35 AM said...

Hi Rich--
I noted your blog and post this morning on our blog. I liked what you had to say. I don't get why PR people are so reluctant to take advantage of the wide array of online free tools for tracking and monitoring. Anyway, enjoyed your blog.
Sterling

Rich on 3/4/07, 9:16 AM said...

Thanks Sterling. I really appreciate it.

Kodus for your uncertainty at www.agencynext.com/2007/03/04/pr-phduhs/: "I'm not sure if a lot of PR people are going to survive this era of new media."

I think, much like graphic designers who were too late to the Web site design game in the early 90s, today's pr folks are leaving the door wide open for others to fill the niche. Then they'll have to spend the next decade catching up or fading away.

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