Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Blogs in the Communications Mix

Recently, I wrote that it was all about content, and that no matter how great the content is, unless it is being pushed out in a way for people to read, it's not going to matter.

Here's taking that idea one step further - content is great, you need to get it out to the right audience, but it's not just about being online. Blogs are a great form of communications, but they are just a tool in the communications mix.

So, here are two examples of blogs being used to enhance the public relations campaigns. The first is Steven Phenix's father and colleagues; the second is English Cut and David Parmet's work on the project.

When The News Went Live
is a blog written by four old-school journalists, and how their lives changed the day of the Kennedy shooting down in Dallas. The blog was set-up to support the public relations campaign for the book of the same name the four had written together, and has lead to more press and more public appearances for the four.

Via email, I have been speaking to Steven about the project. We first talked about the difficulty on getting parents to blog - I gave up on my Mom's real estate blog, but if you want to buy in Scottsdale, let me know - and I was sure he had some of the fun headaches I had. I believe he characterized it as taking a stick to the fellow authors to adopt new communications technology.

Here's where it is interesting - and why it shows that a blog can be a good mix in a public relations campaign if correctly done.

The book publisher launched a traditional campaign - media outreach to print, radio and TV. And book signings. With the blog - and Steven's work - those book signings have increased, and C-SPAN came to Austin to film a segment. The blog has also reached people in foreign countries, something that the PR campaign was not accomplishing. As Steven noted, his father gets very excited when he gets a comment or trackback from outside the United States.

Let's be honest, though. If the authors were not interesting - and the book subject not Kennedy - the blog reach would not be as massive. But, Steven is working with the authors to make sure that they are blogging the right way, are posting interesting information, and driving greater traffic and awareness for the book.

On the flip side of the same coin in The English Cut blog on the Savile Row tailor. David has done a great job working with Thomas Mahon, the tailor, and booking some great media appointments while in New York. The Red Couch has a good post about David's work, but misses the bigger picture.

But as we discussed over Skype, is it the blog driving interest, or is it because there's a great story to tell? Just the blog isn't enough to get the story - it's a great hook to get into the door for media - but the fact that Thomas is a sincere, genuine person and it he comes across that way in both the blog and in interviews. Here's someone that decided to market his old world skills in a new world communications form - that's a good story. Here's someone that can actually tell the story, and hooks up with a pretty darn good PR person that can work the phones (yes, PR is still a phone-based business).

So, while the blog may have been an impetus for publicity, it wasn't the end-all or be-all of the story. The story on English Cut is bigger than just the blog, but the blog has helped increase business.

Two ways that blogs are being used in communications - and how PR can use blogs as an ends unto themselves.

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