Thursday, October 26, 2006

Unclear on the Concept; Lessons from Blog Business Summit

There is a dichotomy at the Blog Business Summit; it is not a bad dichotomy, but it is interesting. On the one hand, the message is about the community: the community is what matters, it is the community that we are reaching out to, to include them on various things (messages, events, news ... things that they might want to know).

On the other hand, it is about measurement. And, well, when you get into measurement, it becomes a Technorati A-list, inside baseball (blogging) circle that really only helps propogate the A-list mentality.

Now, yes, I know these people. Yes, I talk to these people. But, no, I do not exclusively outreach to these people when doing work for clients. Why? Because it is stupid. It is being unclear on the concept of the blogosphere. You know, reaching communities, no matter how big or small.

This is about applying old-school, old-media practices to a new medium that people "claim" is all-inclusive (everyone has an equal voice) but these lists prove they don't mean it ... and, well, this should be of concern for PR people. With the recent announcement of more Technorati 100 in various locales and languages ... it says "it ain't about the community or reaching the right audience, it's only about reaching the biggest dog."

Is that not what got PR and media in trouble in the first place, ignoring the masses but only concentrating on the large press? You get a bigger bang for your buck with the smaller local press, because you can reach a localized audience. You can get a bigger bang for your buck if you do outreach to a specific audience - Mommy bloggers, Photo bloggers, Candy bloggers ... depending on what you want to do outreach for or whom.

So, reading this today made me think of that. First, let us forget the lack of transparency - but I guess it's about being a team player - but the event itself seemed odd. Let's do something for a photo company, but let's invite top bloggers ... that may or may not be the right target. But, hey, it does not matter about the target (they are gonna be up here anyway for Blog Business Summit!) but it's about paying homage to the A-list.

Where do I get that impression - well, I read the post, the link from the link blog. Now, I know these people. I think of many of them as friends. And, yes, I do do outreach to these people ... when appropriate. Heck, I am a slacker and need to respond to Thomas Hawk, and get together with him for some stuff that we have talked about in the past.

But, how does this help PR and help companies understand social media (or new media or emerging media)? It does not - it shoves the square peg of emerging media into one of the usual round holes. It says that we just don't get that the blogosphere is about the enthusiasts and the right communities, but we will only work with big names and we will ignore the audience to be able to continue link love to promote ourselves (second to clients). Well, okay, that's harsh.

But, for a photo company, does it make more sense to invite the A-list bloggers, or some of the photo bloggers and enthusiasts that I know and love? Well, you make the call - I do not know who was there, but the post thus far makes it seem like it was the usual suspects (as I understand it, the NDA ends on Monday, and maybe we'll see something better ... right now, though ... .)

And, my disclaimer? Worked with Getty and Corbis at Ofoto. Nice PR teams, both of them.

Okay, back to the Blog Business Summit - there have been some great talks, and despite the dichotomy, people are learning more about measurement and more about communities, and while there's always going to be some inside blogball feel, there are people here that are asking questions. Taking a page from another panel I sat on, I lead a panel (disclosre: with two clients) where I opened up the floor almost immediately for the audience - to engage the community. If people walk away with anything, it should be that the blogosphere is about the community, and getting the community involved. And, I think people are getting that here. More can be found here and here - all good reads.

Photo from Joseph Thornley's Flickr stream.

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