Whether they are accurate or not, conversations about certain corporations can spread through the blogosphere like wildfire and eventually find their way into the mainstream media. When this happens, PR pros should consider using blogs as an issues-management tool.
"If a company feels like public sentiment is 50-50 on an issue revolving around the company... then a blog makes a lot of sense because [the company] can control its own issues and messages much more clearly than it could working through traditional media channels," says Jud Branam, MD of MS&L BlogWorks. He adds that companies should find the places where their issues are being discussed and interject themselves into the conversation.
"We refer to it as blog media relations," Branam says. "It allows you to identify yourself, get involved in the conversation, and then very specifically address the points you want to make, and [then] get out. It balances the conversation and shows people your company cares enough to get involved."
The other option is for corporations to address an issue on their own blogs, says Lynann Bradbury, SVP at Waggener Edstrom Worldwide.
"They can create what we call an episodic blog, which is launched for a specific episode like a product launch, conference, or a specific issue," she explains. "If it's a bigger issue and you want to take an official stance, then you can do it on your Web site."
Bradbury says companies using blogs must use them in order to react quickly.
"You can't wait and put together a formal response through legal and come up with talking points," Bradbury says. "By that time, an issue could have circulated the blogosphere a couple of times."
Bradbury says her agency focuses on helping clients understand that building relationships with key bloggers who are "paying attention to your business or industry" is crucial, as is reaching their targeted audiences.
"To me it's a no-brainer, and it should be a starting point when talking with certain clients," she continues. "These relationships should be built and established way before any crisis hits. It's taking the Boy Scout approach: Always be prepared."
Blogs provide a quick way to respond to issues and crises corporations might face
Taking part in conversations about your company shows the public that the company cares
Episodic blogs can be used to deal with a particular issue or crisis