Corporate Blogging Survey 2005

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November 7, 2005

Expertise Needed To Be A Corporate Blogger

Lee Hopkins follows up my discussion with Doug Haslam and discusses the issue of blogger relations, and the backlash against blogging, probably a reference to Forbes (Business Week’s note) and maybe Advertising Age articles, plus the skills sets needed to run a corporate blog.

I was thinking about the issue of what skills you need to conduct blogger relations over the weekend and I think you really need to be a PR professional to develop a PR strategy, an SEO expert to develop a search engine optimization strategy, and a journalist, or maybe rather a columnist when it comes to implementing your blogging relations strategy.

Now here’s an issue for many PR and marketing communications professionals, their skills and training have been all about convincing journalists to write stories about their clients, PR professionals will now have to become the journalists or train their clients to become columnists.

Lowrey and Anderson describe the role of journalists in their article, “The Journalist Behind the Curtain:
Participatory Functions on the Internet and their Impact on Perceptions of the Work of Journalism."

“Journalistic work involves (1) diagnosis, which is the task of deciding what information society and audiences need, (2) inference, or the task of investigating current events in light of the diagnosis, and (3) treatment, or the production (writing, layout, etc.) of this information for social consumption.?

The focus of any journalist is to develop relevant content based upon society’s and audience needs, while the focus of any corporate blogger is to develop relevant content that places their product, company or services within the context of an audience conversation. A corporate blogger would still go through the process of diagnosis and inference and treatment but their strategy starts with the marketing concept, identifying customer needs and wants, in order to satisfy such customer needs and wants efficiently and profitably.

What are the consequences of PR professionals and business people taking over more of the role of journalists, it could be the weakening of the occupation of journalism. Lowrey and Anderson highlight the possible consequences of blogging for journalism.

"If an occupation's grip over a work area is loosened, then the result is not necessarily a more open and egalitarian society-there may simply be a shift in the power structure of occupations. For example, journalists presently have a measure of control over the work of informing the public. If this control weakens, then rival occupations such as public relations practitioners or politicians may benefit (Dooley, 1999).?

Posted by johncass at November 7, 2005 9:44 AM

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» The corporate blogger’s professional project from Lee's new Better Communication Results blog
A few savvy corporates will get it right (witness GM) but until bloggers start their own Professional Project then I am afraid that credibility, and financial reward, will be in very short supply. ... [Read More]

Tracked on November 7, 2005 1:34 PM


Hi John,

Sometimes my trackbacks don't work, but I have continued this conversation over at


Posted by: Lee at November 7, 2005 1:58 PM

I take issue with the idea that as PR professionals, our job is to "convince."

One of the reasons so many former journalists, including myself and Doug Haslam, made such an easy transition to PR isn't because we can convince anyone of anything. It's because we're good storytellers.

Yes, if you're in the profession you need to encourage a reporter to write something, but the only way to do that is by having a good story to tell.

I remember hearing the phrase "characters" coming out of the mouths of documentary producers. They weren't thinking about "interview subjects" but who would make a good "character" for their "story." Same concepts as fiction, only based on truth. Without a compelling subject and interesting characters, you have nothing.

The same holds true for PR. The story leads the coverage. My job about calling up reporters and begging, but about taking the facts of my client, determining how those facts fit into the broader landscape, then delivering to the reporter the pieces to make it all work.

When it comes down to it, isn't that what people look for on TV, radio, newspaper, blogs, podcasts and video blogs?

Posted by: Chuck Tanowitz at November 7, 2005 4:23 PM


I respectfully believe this is a matter of semantics. I wonder if you have ever taken a few moments to explain to a journalist why your story is of relevance to an audience? If you have isn’t that attempting to convince someone that your story is worthwhile for his or her audience and they should publish your story?

As a PR professional, why do you contact journalists? If not to get your story out to your audience, you conduct background research, provide different perspectives on the same issue and present them to a journalist, is that not an effort to convince a journalist they should consider your story? If telling a story is merely the process of giving facts in the hope that a journalist will be interested in your story and publish, then doesn’t story telling meet the definition of the word ‘convince’? See this definition of the word ‘convince’,

“To bring by the use of argument or evidence to firm belief or a course of action? and “Usage Note: According to a traditional rule, one persuades someone to act but convinces someone of the truth of a statement or proposition: By convincing me that no good could come of staying, he persuaded me to leave?

I don’t think there is any dishonor in attempting to convince people to accept your evidence or story as worthwhile. Lastly, looking at this definition of the word ‘storyteller’, there may be some problems with the word ‘storyteller’. Yet when you or I use the word ‘convince’ or one of its synonyms; induce, talk into, encourage, persuade, prove to, sway or influence, I think we are both left with an uneasy feeling.

I personally have tried to stop using the word ‘Influence’ when describing the process of approaching bloggers to debate or discuss, I’d even say I convince them of my perspectives on a particular point of view. Yet I know of at least one major public relations firm that uses the word ‘influence’ in its tag line in connection with influencing media relations. Rather I have moved to using the word ‘inspire’ for corporate blogging.

Our readers have probably run screaming by now, but language is very important, to each of our professions, SEO and PR. I think it will be equally important to the new profession of blogger relations.


Posted by: John Cass at November 8, 2005 2:53 PM


After discussing this at home last night, I think you are right about using the word convince when presenting a story to a journalist. Any PR professional who does a good job of background research of a publication’s audience and a journalist’s writings will craft a story that through the process of telling the story to a journalist will encourage a journalist to write about in their publication.

However, shouldn’t a journalist be skeptical? Isn’t it a journalist’s job to ask follow up questions, as a way to check the facts of the story, isn’t it the journalistic approach to question and check facts?

I look at the process of pitching a story to a journalist by a PR professional as just that, a pitch, if a PR professional has done their job well, there will be no follow up questions. But how many times does that happen? Once a journalist questions a PR professional, and then the pitch is no longer a pitch, it’s a process of backing up your story with facts. Yes, you are attempting to be objective by answering questions and presenting facts, but aren’t you really convincing a journalist that your story is worthwhile to publish by the presentation of those facts during that stage of your pitch?

Also, see this article on ‘journalistic approach’.


Posted by: John Cass at November 9, 2005 10:29 AM

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