Blogs' reputation impact, the future of VNRs, more

What effect can blogs have on a company's reputation?

What effect can blogs have on a company's reputation?

"Reputation is a critical component of corporate success and shareholder value, yet few PR and marketing pros who are in charge of managing their organization's reputation have comprehensive programs in place to understand the views expressed via millions of regularly updated blogs," says Alan Scott of Factiva.

"Different flavors of blogs have developed, and it is worth looking at the variations to understand how each can affect your organization's reputation," he adds. "Some blogs are run by consumers or brand enthusiasts to promote a brand or product and allow other users to do so, too. Other blogs promote a negative view of a company and its products."

With the growing influence of business-related blogs, individuals have a great way to tell their stories, while PR and marketing pros have an invaluable opportunity to hear them.

"Blogs provide both experts and self-styled pundits an easy way to make their voices heard in the Web-based marketplace of ideas," says Scott. "Companies ignoring the independent product reviews and discussions about service quality found on blogs are living dangerously."

How have recent controversies affected the VNR market?

"Once again, The Center for Media and Democracy [CMD] has exposed TV stations for undisclosed use of VNRs," says Mark Hirsch of MediaHitman. "Though we commend the Radio-Television News Directors Association [RTNDA] for their well-reasoned response, critics have succeeded at denigrating the practice and have kept broadcasters and the PR industry on their heels for several months."

While trade groups attempt to reframe the debate around whether or not it is legally permissible to air VNRs, broadcasters are currently losing the battle of public opinion. News directors are fully aware that they are being watched and will be ever more cautious about using outside content on the air, Hirsch says.

"As PR pros, it's time we embrace the fact that the core of our industry's reliance on VNRs has always been public trust in broadcast news," he adds. "Clearly, CMD's exposés have eroded that trust. We all want our stories to reach and potentially influence viewers. As such, we're encouraging our colleagues to try a new, more innovative approach."

How can we use radio for our annual conference?

Radio is a great way to get information out that is provided in papers, presentations, or panels at a national conference, says Susan Matthews Apgood of News Generation.

"You can take advantage of having all the researchers and presenters in one place by recording them while they are on-site and then pitching sound bites back to their markets," she adds. "Both methods provide widespread national coverage by pitching many different researchers and give the radio stations the local information they seek."

Your distribution and budgetary needs will determine whether the on-site interviews or the recorded sound bites are the best method to use.

"The interviews provide a one-on-one setting that allows the spokesperson to directly interact with the radio interviewer," notes Apgood. "This method provides high-quality coverage on a [select] number of stations. With sound bites, we can pitch the story to more stations, but this method doesn't allow for station-spokesperson interaction."

Send your questions to Please contact Lisa LaMotta if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox ot to suggest ideas for future columns.

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