PR blogs need to dig deeper than mainstream headlines

To the PR bloggers who have taken to issuing e-mail alerts to let us know each time their blog has been updated, please take note: This has to stop.

To the PR bloggers who have taken to issuing e-mail alerts to let us know each time their blog has been updated, please take note: This has to stop.

An alert to direct people to a blog posting flouts the very essence of what defines a successful blog - that thing that creates compulsive need for readers to check in with sites that they relate to in some way. The mandate of the blogger is "thou shall often update," else traffic will be light. This is a relationship, a dialogue, not simply a platform for pronouncements from self-professed experts. Engaging with eyeballs requires more than just promoting catchy topics through humdrum channels.

The fact is that the ranks of PR leadership are fairly bursting with new bloggers, adding their voices to those who blog about PR and marketing, but aren't necessarily C-suite occupants.

The marketing benefits are obvious, but there are other attractions to blogging. Aedhmar Hynes, CEO of Text 100, recently started blogging, in part because she wants to "participate in the blogosphere if I'm going to advise clients about it."

But there is one problem PR leaders have: they can never really talk about the good stuff - like clients. Or they can only do so in the safest, most managed terms. That is entirely understandable. But it places extra demands on the blogger to ask, "How can I express something truly meaningful about our industry?"

Another issue is that there are plenty of sites out there that rehash current events. Even looking at the news of the day through the prism of PR is hardly unique, given the proliferation of bloggers doing that. I mean, really, how many ways can you dissect Oprah's excoriation of James Frey from a PR perspective?

Agency bloggers should stop looking solely at the marketing benefits of blogging by trying to show how smart they are about PR. There is still a strong need to aggregate the kind of news that doesn't necessarily find its way to the major media outlets. American Banker's story this week titled, "E-trade to use RSA Risk-Assessment Tool" no doubt has enormous significance for some, particularly when it's linked to from a specialist blog designed to raise awareness of possible trends.

One of the most common requests I hear from those on the client side is that they want their firms to look beyond the horizon and help them figure out what problems and opportunities are emerging. In addition, they seek deep expertise in specific areas, not "generalists" who can wax eloquent on everything from the price of oil to the new cat-food commercial.

Focusing on some of the lesser-known trade publications or educational institutions, or drilling down into particular industry sectors and niches within those sectors, might offer greater value than the 490th analysis of what Scott McClellan did right or wrong today.

PR pros are uniquely able to anticipate trouble before it even happens. Translate that ability into a blog, and you won't need an e-mail reminder to get people to log on.

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