It’s an opportunity not a threat

A BBC story on the threat posed by blogs and bloggers to a company’s reputation includes mention of quite a few names – companies and bloggers – that will be highly familiar to many business bloggers.

My favourite sound bites from the BBC story are by Matthew Yeomans (organizer of the Blogging 4 Business conference in London last week):

“Companies have been used to a level of control, and it’s been very much a one-way street,” says Matthew Yeomans of Custom Communication, an agency which seeks to help businesses navigate their way around the burgeoning blogosphere.

“For years, they’ve shut out their audience and hidden behind the world of PR. That’s all blown out of the water now. They can’t do that any more.”

[…] “The more enlightened companies are not trying to control this conversation, because they realise they can’t. The web is out there for anyone to see. But the best companies are seeing that as an opportunity, not a threat.”

BBC News | Business bites the blogging bullet

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Mary Schmidt

    The threat/opportunity is one of both quantity and quality. For the first time, companies can see/hear/talk to those unhappy (and happy) customers who talk, talk, talk about the company’s products – and how they feel about them.

    People have always chattered to each other – thanks to blogville, companies can no longer ignore them…and we, the consumer, can speak out and up at a level never before possible.

    All of which, of course, scares the cr** out of the old-line, “my way or the highway” corporations if they are even willing to look at it. Companies such as MBNA, Mercedes, name-the-wireless company, may have to realize that smash & grab marketing is going the way of the do-do bird.

  2. neville

    I tend to agree with you, Mary, re quantity/quality. There’s still a big hill to climb, though, in helping organizations see the value from social media media like blogs.

  3. Philippe Borremans

    Unless we show the corporate world the ROI of new media in solid “corporate” figures (and describe it in “corporate speak”) it will take years to open the eyes of most… Let’s start with “educating” their PR people first.

    My guess is that small and medium businesses will pick this up faster because of the “free” associated to it. Also, it is easier to demonstrate the so called ROI with those type of companies I guess.

  4. neville

    Absolutely, Philippe, you’re right. However, we need to define what we mean by ROI, ie, ensure everyone is looking at that acronym in the same way.

    Your point also brings to mind the experience that Shel Israel and Robert Scoble recently had when they were presenting on business blogging at Amazon – Chris Hollander’s summary is a good one, and his post has links to the individual details of this story.

    The moral of the story: know your audience and be prepared.

  5. Philippe Borremans

    Thanks for those links about Amazon Neville, missed it somehow (too many RSS feeds to read…)

    This is exactly what I mean. The question is; who keeps the numbers, who tracks and lists the hard case studies..?

    Because let’s face it, apart from Stormhoek and English Cut as positive examples (with all respect for the great work there) and Kryptonite as the crisis case I do not hear a lot of new examples on conferences etc…

    What about sitting down with a few PR people, create a ROI framework, check it off with some high level business leaders, and then use this template for all new case studies ?

  6. neville

    Philippe, the only resouce I can see currently is what’s on The New PR Wiki, especially sections like the one with white papers.

    But you’re right – it would extremely useful to have some guidelines that specifically address this ROI point. Maybe kick it off on the wiki.

    Thinking cap on…

  7. Constantin Basturea

    Neville, the best way of having a resource on case studies is to build it :) I just added a couple of links to the Case Studies page on the NewPR Wiki:

    As I commented on Philippe’s blog, I’m not sure that we should have an ROI framework *first*. There are others metaphors out there that might describe better the benefits of blogging and other social software tools for business. So maybe it’s better to go ahead with 2 projects in parallel: identifying positive/negative case studies, and discussing the ways of quantifying/describing the benefits of business blogging.

    We can start collecting links on the Blogging ROI discussion from around the blogosphere here:

    Please feel free to edit the pages as you want – and to share the edit password with anyone who will be interested to contribute to the page.

  8. neville

    That’s terrific, Constantin. A sandbox for thinking. I still have my cap on. A good point re framework (which is first: the chicken or the egg).

    I’ll do what I can to contribute to this on the wiki.

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