Blog 360 Should do a 180

I’m not surprised that mega PR firm MWW Group this week announced a weblog marketing practice (called “Blog 360”). I am surprised, however, that it took management this long to see blogs as a new way to make a buck.

I’m not knocking the need for PR agencies to help their clients understand and participate in the blogosphere; on the contrary, it’s an absolute necessity. Some agencies are doing it very well and should be commended (Steve Rubel of CooperKatz and the author of Micro Persuasion, where I first saw this story posted, is an example of what’s going right with PR today).

MWW, which is owned by Interpublic, is putting profit ahead of practice. The company doesn’t even have its own blog. Moreover, they continue to ignore the reality of today’s modern media environment, that they (the PR people and their clients) are no longer in control of the message.

In the company press release, MWW says they are “expert at identifying and leveraging strategic marketing tools that generate significant ROI for clients. As media channels continue to become more segmented, blogs represent a new and emerging opportunity for companies to pinpoint communications to key constituents.”

That last line says it all — “pinpoint communications to key constituents.” What about listening? Participating? Rubel perhaps said it best in an interview with ClickZ : “Consumers are in control, and consumers are the media. It’s a paradigm shift that’s going to change PR forever. We need to be listening to bloggers as much as talking to them.”

MWW took the first step — recognizing that blogs are important and that clients need to be educated. But before they launch Blog 360, they should do a 180 and participate in the medium, listen to what’s being said and how, and understand that people are not just consumers of information, but creators as well.

Read more about Blog 360 at Micro Persuasion.

Lose a Little Control

I used to cringe when my former journalism colleagues painted PR and marketing communications people with the same broad, insulting brush. After all, it seemed hypocritical to call us manipulative and accuse us of “spin” when later they would ask me if there were any openings at my agency. Self-righteousness only goes so far, and it doesn’t pay the electric bill.

I am still a marketing communications person – but now I cringe, too.

Far too many of my marketing colleagues continue to spin and try to control their clients’ message, even though the reality of modern media makes it impossible. Marketing today is a conversation, not a lecture – it’s a democracy where all voices can and do get heard. You can’t “control” what the market is saying any more than you can control a hurricane.

Marketing today is about fostering conversation and participating in what’s being said. And although Big Media still exerts enormous influence over people’s perceptions and decision-making, journalism is also changing and expanding. As Dan Gillmor says in his book, We the Media, “citizen reporters” help create thousands of new “listening posts” around the world – and they spread the news instantly via blogs, mobile phone video, RSS feeds and SMS messages.

Still think you are in charge? If you want to succeed, you must first embrace four simple truths:

1) You don’t control your message.

2) You never will.

3) You communicate only when you participate.

4) When you participate, your message will be heard, understood, and respected.

Tell the Truth, Go to Jail

I’m not sure what’s more shocking about the local NBC reporter in Rhode Island who was sentenced to six months of home confinement for refusing to reveal a source — the fact that journalistic integrity is being compromised, or that a television reporter actually has sources.

Jim Taricani, 55, was sentenced to six months of home confinement for refusing to say who leaked him an FBI videotape of a politician taking a bribe. Never mind that his reporting led to a corruption probe that ultimately sent city officials, including the former Mayor, to federal prison.

According to the Associated Press, Taricani is one of several journalists nationwide who have become locked in First Amendment battles with the government over confidential sources. That includes reporters for Time and The New York Times who have been threatened with jail as part of an investigation into the disclosure of an undercover CIA officer’s identity.

Here’s the real problem: Journalism in America has gotten so bad, that when a reporter actually, you know, makes the effort to "report" something real, he or she should be applauded, not punished. If we keep threatening to send journalists to jail, then all we’ll have are a bunch of mindless sychophants with PR degrees who will just regurgitate whatever government officials tells them. I don’t know about you, but I think one Fox News Channel is more than enough.

Read the entire story at