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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  1. Great insights as usual. Because the blogosphere is like Farsi to most clients, what if they are more interested in mass distrubution of message rather than effective distribution of message.

    I would feel awkward targeting the A-list for a client who really should be hitting a few niche places at their request. Then again, because they don't speak Farsi, if I give them numbers and mass appeal proof, they'll continue to target the Farsi-speakers.

    Intersting balance?

  2. Community and measurement need not be exclusive - there needs to be some way that a business blogger can measure the ROI on a blog - be it money, goodwill, whatever - in order to make a business decision to continue it.

    Targeting or trying to be "A-List" is irrelevant to equation - you only need to target your customers or those who have contact with your customers.

  3. "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."

    Hey Jeremy. Although I certainly have a popular blog I'm definitely not an A-lister. I'm nowhere near the Technorati top 100. And there were others at the Getty event too that were not A-listers. Mark Bixby writes a great graphic design blog but like me would not be an A lister.

    While folks like TechCrunch and Scoble might be A-listers, Getty and Edelman did invite bloggers to this event who were not A-listers but who were covering important areas like photography or graphic design.

    While I don't consider myself an A-lister, I do consider myself someone who not only works in the photo industry but someone who is an advanced amateur photographer and someone who both a specialist and blogs about photography quite a bit.

    While certainly PR firms can't invite everyone to blog junkets, I think that the mixture of attendees at this event was a good one covering both top bloggers but also non top bloggers who happened to cover photography, grapic design, etc. I think it was put on well by Edelman with all appropriate disclosures and that it was a good example of how a PR firm might engage the blogosphere mixing top bloggers with other B and C list bloggers in various niche area.

    Sorry to miss you while in Seattle by the way. I should pay better attention because I didn't even know the Business Blog thing was going on but was pleasantly surprised to see a bunch of familar faces hanging out in Seattle.

    Let's catch up soon Pal.


  4. It's absolutely about getting people involved. The diversity of ideas is how we grow. Just need to get everyone moving in teh right direction.

  5. As someone who runs two travel blogs, contributes to a bigger one, and runs two travel content sites, I can say for sure that most real "influencers" are completely off the radar of the typical PR people. In travel, it's not uncommon to see press trip invitations stipulating "print magazines or newspapers of 100,000 circulation or more only." Never mind that the blogs or travel web sites reach far more active travelers--and keep reaching them for months or years. The same thing is happening with blogs--they want big numbers, not a good match. Everyone sends travel gadgets to engadget (even though they usually don't get reviewed), but nobody is targeting the travel bloggers who would actually use the stuff and write about it. I don't need to get any more PR crap in the mail, just saying...

  6. On the other hand... I really do buy into the basic concept in "The Tipping Point", as I stated more than once from the stage at the Summit, and at some fundamental level, if you believe in thought and influence leaders, isn't the blogosphere version of that "A listers"?

    I think Scoble had it right when he said "there's not one A-list, there are thousands of them" but if I were involved in PR, I'd want to identify the A-list for my client's niche and pursue them.

    How is that different from assembling a list of top journalists to target with PR from a client anyway? You don't target generic journalists, but those focused on the specific segment within which your customer hopes to become influential.

  7. Jeremy,
    Edelman and Getty seem to have put together a group that mixed targeted photo/graphic bloggers with some other tier one bloggers. "steak and sizzle together make a better experience."

    The fact that the Getty event coincided with a couple of other "by-invitation-only events around the Blog Business Summit - (the first night speakers and "special guest" dinner; the after-event special trip to wine country (on a corporate jet!)) contrasted starkly with the egalitarian principals of the blogosphere (all people can comment; all ideas can be heard if they are good).

    Together, these side events contributed to a sense that the Tier One bloggers live within a self-perpetuating social bubble and the rest of us are just there to validate their importance.

    Unfair, I know. But perceptions can be everything.

  8. Hello,
    I enjoyed your commentary on blogging and the business related to it. I've been studying blogging for a bit as part of my work and finally took the plunge. I've been attempting to determine the appropriate pre-existing metaphor for blogging and came up with "virtual water-cooler talk", although a co-worker informed me it was more like dogs gathering around trees. The study continues...


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