Comments have historically been a less important element of PR pros' new-media monitoring strategy. But blog editors have always appreciated commenters' contributions, finding the conversations that took place in blog comments could be as meaningful or more than an original post.
Gawker Media is one company that has made great strides to elevate the commenter, allowing registered users to establish avatars for their profiles, and display, on one page, all of their comments across Gawker Media titles.
Recent trends, including the ability to pick up comments in Web search, have made the comments threads on blogs a more important element of PR strategy. And a host of companies have started providing more robust commenting platforms, which now makes it easier for PR pros to understand who leads comments discussions and what constitutes commenting authority.
Intense Debate (ID) is one such company that allows commenters to establish profiles and keep a record of all comments made at any blog or Web site that uses the ID service.
"We're working on changing the comment structure of the blogosphere from being disjointed, unsearchable, untraceable 'dark matter' to dialogues connected by persons and topics...," says ID CEO Tom Keller, via e-mail. "PR pros need to be immediately aware of not only blogs and comments on a topic of interest to them, but also of postings - anywhere, on any subject - by individuals who are respected within these topics."
Paul Walker, EVP of digital media at GCI Group, says that blog commenters tend to be a small, but influential group.
"You do find that the people prone to create content and comment are a smaller subset of the online audience," Walker says. "In some big brand forums, you will find 200 to 300 people will really be driving [all of] the conversations."
"Some of these comment companies are going to make it possible that every time you make a comment, [it will] keep track of your contribution," says Brian Solis, CEO of Future Works. "In some cases, people can vote [your comments] up and down, and, with one click, [you can see a person's] overall rating, profile, and all of the articles they've commented on."
-Any PR pros monitoring online discussions of their clients must pay attention to the comments thread
-More search engines are starting to show comment threads in search results
-Companies now make it easy for people to craft profiles around their comments