How do you respond when your business model is “gatekeeper”, and the gates suddenly disappear?
Jim, a PR professional and friend of mine asked me that question last week. What he said was “How do I deal with agency clients who want to shift their PR dollars to blogging”. Indeed! The role of the PR agency has always been to be the eyes and ears of the company in the press, and to shape and deliver messages to the press and analyst community for the client. In today’s environment, however, anyone can deliver that message. I’m doing it right now!
That creates a real challenge for the PR industry.
Blogging buddy Ken Camp posted yesterday about his experience with MoPR, T@lkster’s agency, and how much they impressed him. Within hours of his ho-hum reaction to T@lkster, Melissa was on the telephone to set up a meeting with CEO James Wanless. While Ken is still undecided on T@lkster, he’s certainly much more open to hearing their story than he was yesterday.
In contrast, Sears Canada is a bricks and mortar business which has chosen to ignore the blogosphere. In May of last year, at the Saunders household we had a washer breakdown, and a very unsatisfactory experience with Sears. I wrote about it at the time, and since then that page has continued to attract a steady stream of disatisfied Sears customers, all vowing to never do business with Sears Canada again. If Sears had responded to my complaint, I would have written about that as well. They could have turned my complaint into a win for everyone, but they didn’t.
So what’s the lesson for my friend Jim?
- MoPR are bloggers themselves.ÂThey get it.
- MoPR encourages their clients to run a blog, and uses the Talkster blog on WordPress as a central way to distribute information to those who want to know about Talkster. No need to wait for releases and pitches. Just subscribe to the RSS feed.
- MoPR engages bloggers actively in order to solicit their feedback, and counter negative opinion in the blogosphere.
MoPR is redefining their role as a facilitator of dialogs, and enlarging the audience they work with. That’s not traditional PR, it’s something new. They’re not the only company doing this, either. Andy Abramson’s Comunicano is another great example of the new PR. Andy himself is the current “King of VoIP bloggers“, his blog VoIPWatch is a recognized authority in the communications industry, and his pioneering blogger relations program for Nokia, now over a year old, really set the tone for how companies could interact with the blogosphere. That’s why iotum is a client!
And that Jim, is what you should be doing. Be the eyes and ears for your clients in the blogosphere, and help them shape and deliver their messages to this new audience, using a medium that this audience understands — the blog.
UPDATE: A couple of my PR friends have called wanting to know if they were “Jim”. Sorry guys… he’s a composite of a bunch of conversations I’ve had. No hard feelings. None of you are really the J-Dude…