In digital media era, if you do not state your case, others will

Our magazine is now blogging, and it's a very satisfying outlet for two reasons.

Our magazine is now blogging, and it's a very satisfying outlet for two reasons.

First, PRWeek now has a repository for all the "other" stuff we talk about in the newsroom, which relates to marketing and PR, but doesn't have a natural home on our pages. The Cycle, our blog for the entire editorial staff, offers a great platform. Second, our Editors' Blog gives us a chance to talk about what we do in a new way, and we hope it will encourage a better dialogue between us and our readers.

Last week, I blogged about the issue of bias in media, largely in response to letters we receive about various articles that readers perceive as having a particular slant. There is no doubt that the number of comments that relate to political bias is up significantly in the past few years, in spite of the fact that we actually cover far less politics than we used to. We are living in more partisan times, but also at work here is the broader scope of the political landscape. If at one point in time all politics was local, now everything is political, in particular the media.

This topic dovetailed well with the introduction of our blog because it speaks to the current trend that people no longer just want to know "what"; they want to know "why." Why does PRWeek run a story about Fox News? Well, because the editor is a conservative propagandist, of course. If you don't answer the question yourself, others will do it for you.

Most of the time, it's probably best not to engage in a back and forth on motives rather than action. But the challenge for communicators is to understand that this trend is not limited to media, and that might be the most compelling reason for companies to consider launching blogs by senior executives - or not.

The fragmented digital media world, hungry for content, is spending more time analyzing, scrutinizing, and passing judgment on the actions of companies than any corporation can reasonably keep up with. Reactive corrections and clarifications will only go so far, as once the initial ideas are in play, it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to turn the story around.

Even if you do win a follow-up story, information coming via online sources has a way of popping up over and over again. Unlike newspaper archives, where one tends to believe only the most recent account, Internet searching can bring anything to the surface. As Mark Penn, CEO of Burson-Marsteller, recently told me, the old saw about the newspaper being tomorrow's fish wrapping is out of date. "Now stories wrap around you for a decade."

The next wave of communications innovation won't be about the medium, but about rethinking the message. It will be about building a story through multiple channels that collectively stands up as the authoritative resource for understanding what a company is about - from the products it sells to its leadership philosophy. Otherwise, someone else will do it for you.

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