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Guideposts for the New Communications Ecosystem
a.k.a. The Blogosphere Survival Guide


EMBRACE CHANGE
  • Communications is shifting from broadcast to conversation
    • "Traditional media send messages, blogs start discussions." - Loic Le Meur, prominent blogger and Executive VP and General Manager, Europe, Six Apart
    • "Markets are really just conversations; millions and millions happening at once. . . " "The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual" by Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls, David Weinberger
    • "The Internet is becoming a water cooler on steroids. That presents both opportunities and threats for brands." Pete Blackshaw, CMO, Intelliseek, San Jose Mercury News, January 21, 2005
  • We thought things moved fast before. . .
    • Technorati reports that 23,000 new blogs are created every day - one every three seconds
    • Outsiders disseminate what they learn about the company (from any source) faster and more widely than ever
    • With comment posts and permalinks, stories take on a life of their own within hours - realtime monitoring and quick action are vital


THE MEDIA IS WATCHING - CLOSELY
  • "Bloggers have had an impact on how the media might approach a story or get interested in a subject, and in that sense they are like sentinels," said Aly Cohen, a group leader at Poynter Institute, a nonprofit independent school for journalism. "They send signals to the mainstream press that maybe in another time could have taken longer to get attention or might have been ignored." Investors Business Daily, January 4, 2005
    • "We used to think that the news was finished when we printed it. But that's when the news now begins," said Jeff Jarvis, author of the blog BuzzMachine, and president and creative director of newspaper publisher Advance Publications' Internet division. "Why There's No Escaping the Blog," Fortune, January 10, 2005


THE "RULES" ARE BEING WRITTEN IN REAL TIME
  • Observe blog etiquette - ignoring it has serious public consequences
    • Listen first - it's a conversation
    • Subterfuge will out
    • Authenticity is all (see below!)
  • Stay close to your legal team - the issues are complex and evolving
  • Create your own rules - define and evangelize company policies for employee bloggers at all levels and for responding to independent bloggers


AUTHENTICITY IS ALL
  • Blog writers often have very personal motivations and passions - these are the voices that rise above the noise
  • Real people write readable, credible blogs, corporations don't
    • "If I'm only saying, 'Use Microsoft products, rah rah rah,' I lose all ability to have a conversation," said Robert Scoble, prominent blogger and Microsoft software evangelist. Fortune, January 10, 2005
  • Openness is essential
    • Be as candid as possible; be clear about what you can't discuss and why
    • Respectfully acknowledge dissenting opinions
    • Marketing "hype" will be evaluated with skepticism and cynicism, or worse ridiculed and treated with sarcasm


BLOGGERS ARE A FORMIDABLE TRUTH SQUAD (Just ask Dan Rather)
  • Be certain that the facts you release are clear and defensible. If they are not, it will be discovered and highlighted by a blogger. "When you hit that little publish button and something goes up, you know that literally millions of eyeballs around the world are going to parse it," says Michelle Malkin, a conservative blogger. The Wall Street Journal, January 21, 2005
  • Links to source material and authoritative third-party commentary to add weight to your positions
  • Be the first to acknowledge and correct your own mistakes, misstatements


CONSIDER CAREFULLY WHEN YOU OPEN THE DOOR - IT'S NOT EASY TO CLOSE IT AGAIN!
  • Once you initiate a presence in the blogosphere - either by commenting on blogs or by creating your own, changes will be noticed
  • Establishing a true dialogue with customers can be painful, but is ultimately rewarding. Six Apart CEO Barak Berkowitz says, "When everybody has a tool for talking to the rest of the world, you can't hide from your mistakes. You have to face them. Once you commit to an open dialogue, you can't stop." Fortune, January 10, 2005


THERE IS A SILVER LINING
  • You're already in the blogosphere. Your customers, employees, partners and competitors are bloggers. You can learn what's being written about your company and your products.
    • Blogs are a great way to learn from and to engage your key stakeholders
  • Blogs are conversations, which means that as bloggers talk, they may also listen!

Download the full report (pdf)


Burson-Marsteller contacts:

Bob Finlayson
President & CEO, Northern California
Burson-Marsteller
415-591-4072
bob.finlayson@sfo.bm.com

Lisa Poulson
Managing Director, Technology Practice
Burson-Marsteller
415-591-4055
lisa_poulson@sfo.bm.com

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Full Report (pdf)