Blogs: Smokey and the Bandit Part 4?

Is blogging the 21st-century equivalent of citizen band radio, the personal radio technology that became so popular in the late 1970s that it was included in a Coronation Street plotline and spawned a generation of bad Burt Reynolds 'Good Ol' Boy' movies?

Is the blogging phenomenon just another ephemeral, over-hyped fad? Or is it a new medium that will significantly affect the influence model?

The questions are important. Some leading PR groups have begun building blogging practices, and presumably want to sell their services to customers.

There is no doubting the scale of the blogosphere. By July this year, according to blogherald.com, there were 70 million blogs, with 2.5 million in the UK alone. That's a big number, even if many were discontinued days after they were created. But big does not necessarily equal influential, despite those clamouring for bloggers to be Time's Person of the Year. There may be some excellent blogs, but the truth is that 99 per cent plus are of little interest.

For the influential bloggers, there also remains the fundamental issue of making money from their work. Effective blogging requires time and effort. Most of the best bloggers are full-time. Robert Scoble, who put a human face on Microsoft through his blogging before he left the company, is an example.

The trouble for independent bloggers is that you can blog your heart out, but getting paid is another matter. There is also the paradox that, by trying to become more commercial, many bloggers risk compromising their independence.

Take one of the most successful and influential tech industry blogs, siliconvalleywatcher.com, which is run by my former colleague at the Financial Times, Tom Foremski. He has taken the route of accepting sponsorship from companies such as Intel and Edelman. Tom's columns are always insightful, and his integrity is not in doubt, but taking sponsorship does cast doubt on the site's copy in a way that advertising in traditional mainstream media does not. My guess is that, unless a viable business model develops, the best blogs will eventually be absorbed into mainstream media.

If I'm wrong, how then should PROs concerned about blogging respond? The watchwords are scale and timing. By all means, they should invest so they understand what is happening, but not too much lest they get ahead of the market. That way, if blogging does change the influence model, they will be better positioned. And if it doesn't, they won't have wasted too much money. After all, there aren't many ‘good ol' buddies' using CB radio any more.

Paul Abrahams is managing director of Waggener Edstrom in London. The views are the author's and not necessarily those of the agency. 

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Latest Articles

John Lewis to tell brand story with "tasteful" 150th anniversary celebrations

John Lewis to tell brand story with "tasteful" 150th anniversary celebrations

Department store John Lewis is to use its 150th anniversary this year to talk about its history, which "not enough people know about", according to director of communications Peter Cross.

Labour hires Obama election strategist David Axelrod to fight General Election

Labour hires Obama election strategist David Axelrod to fight General Election

The man who helped Barack Obama win the 2008 and 2012 US presidential elections is to work for Labour along with members of his team.

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Pay-TV giant Sky has added Fever PR to its agency line-up for a wide-ranging brief covering products and services.

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford has been sent home for Easter and will reconvene on Tuesday for further deliberations about its verdicts on 11 charges of indecent assault.

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

The Home Office has tasked Munro & Forster (M&F) with supporting its campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) as part of a wider retained brief.