Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

Fortune500′s blogging blues

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 by Jon Clements
Update: friend of PR Media Blog, blogger at PR Communications Blog and head of digital marketing at Pace Communications, John Cass, has produced a useful table of F500 companies with blogs and where to find them
As UK social media practitioners muse about 2011 as the real golden dawn for social media uptake in business, the view from the United States is perplexing.

The latest study into social media activity among Fortune 500 companies, fresh from the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts, is remarkable mainly for revealing the unexpected.

While 23% of the F500 companies now have a public-facing corporate blog against 16% when the study first came out in 2008, it’s only a 1% increase on last year’s figure, suggesting a slowdown in the battle of the blogs.

And while a third of all blogs among the F500 fall within the top 100 companies, this group has also seen the biggest decline in blog usage, down from 39% to 32% year on year.

While the study hailed blog activity across the F500 as a truly interactive exercise, its companies lag behind the occupants of the Inc.500 list of the fastest growing US private companies, 45% of which have an active corporate blog.

However, blogs aside, corporate adoption of other social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook paints a very different picture: 60% of the F500 have an official Twitter account (up 35% on last year) with – according to the study – a high level of interaction with other users. Meanwhile, Facebook now features 56% of corporate America’s leading businesses.

So, what does it mean? This decline in blog activity could reflect the sometimes Herculean effort it takes to maintain a flow of compelling and hard-working (i.e., richly-linked and optimised) blog content. If blog content creation is not an effective mixture of planned posts plus material reacting to a breaking sector topic, it can quickly lose its way and its audience. And if internal ownership of the blog is vague, stasis tends to result.

But is this wrong?

Online marketing consultant, Chris Kieff, seems to think so: in his Social Media Today blog post he asserts that this is a “lack of commitment of these Fortune 500 companies to become engaged, transparent and authentic with their communities in social media” because “blogging also naturally promotes a deeper discourse with comments of substance that would have to be addressed. In simple terms it’s harder to hide when you blog, compared to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.”

While you would expect PR Media Blog to concur with the value of blogging, I think Chris Kieff is wrong to suggest that working in other social media platforms is less “engaged, transparent and authentic”. On the contrary, Twitter and Facebook have the potential to engender a dialogue that many blog comment sections would kill for. Equally, Twitter and Facebook don’t require the posting of new content by a brand for customers to kick off a conversation, whereas a blog needs that regularly refreshed content to inspire engagement. Without it, discussion dries up quickly.

And as far as transparency goes, a blog-based discussion will often remain within its digital walls, unless either owner or commenter has the desire to take it beyond. Meanwhile, the highly versatile sharing capabilities of both Twitter and Facebook mean a debate can literally go viral in seconds.

Clearly, there’s room for all methods of social media interaction. And if the F500 has decided to scale back its blogging, you’d hope it was done on the basis of analytical evidence that the return on effort wasn’t worth it. It might suggest that less is more in the depth of editorial content required by social media consumers.

Whatever the reasons, you can be sure any marketing method failing to provide a tangible return for business will not last long.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Publish and be socially damned?

Thursday, May 13th, 2010 by Jon Clements

 

Does PR have a role to play in social media?

Sorry, was that a chorus of PR agencies and professionals I heard screaming in unison “Duh, of course it does!”?

Well, people, you might be right. But - more often than not - it’s good to stop and think.

That’s what I was asking a group of nominated company spokespeople to do during media training this week. For while engaging with the media is an opportunity, it’s also a risk. And whether you’re a CEO, engineer or on the shop floor, opening your mouth on the company’s behalf means you are entering new territory; you’re now in the business of public relations and reputation management.

Which is why media training shouldn’t be about soundbites or spin, but taking a carefully considered and methodical approach to the impact of what you say in a public domain.

Which brings us neatly back to social media.

Blogging technology has torn down the barriers to publishing and this is a good thing for both PR agencies and their clients, so long beholden to the media’s permission for their story to be heard. The turnout at a CIPR social media learning event in Preston last night suggests there’s an insatiable appetite for PR consultants to get involved in the brave new(ish) world online.

But as anyone who’s been through journalistic training will tell you, the privilege of publishing also comes with a high degree of responsibility. Get it wrong and you could end up in court facing the full force of the law. British defamation law may leave something to be desired, but for now it remains the law. Which is why the checks and balances of an editorial hierarchy are essential.

PR agencies and their clients are neither professional publishers nor editors. And yet the button marked “publish” on the blogging software enables them to be so. Which takes us back to “stop and think”.

One of the lazy, get-out clauses of making an editorial mistake in the bygone days of print-only publishing was that today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s fish and chip wrapper. But this is not so online. Not only does your online content or comment not end up wrapping fast food, it is potentially one click away from Google’s homepage.

Knowing how to respond in the event of a client’s potential reputation meltdown should be the meat and drink for PR practitioners. But even better is working to ensure it doesn’t happen at all.

That’s why the passion to publish online needs, sometimes, to take a cold shower first.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Social media ROI – is it a Euro, buck or pound?

Sunday, February 7th, 2010 by Jon Clements

Return on investment from social media?

Step forward, please, the social media alchemist who has struck gold…

The leading voices in social media practice and debate are certainly giving it their best shot: Brian Solis’ recent guest post on Mashable paints a daunting picture of senior executives’ views on ROI from social media, including the bar chart below lifted from a study by Bazaarvoice and the CMO Club.

In short, the marketing decision makers remain unconvinced; so, if selling social media is the way you’re aiming to pay for dinner tonight, be prepared for a light salad rather than roast beef.

Solis suggests that measuring social media ROI in 2010 will hinge on real business metrics, such as revenue, rather than the nebulous numbers offered by volumes of followers on Twitter.

Though it’s been around for a while, Oliver Blanchard’s take on the ROI question (presentation below) still hits the spot, although the influence of other elements in the marketing mix make it difficult to evaluate the effect of social media in isolation.

Olivier Blanchard Basics Of Social Media Roi

View more presentations from Olivier Blanchard.

In our experience as a business using social media for our own purposes, as well as advising clients on theirs, there is a significant investment of time in order to make it work. Equally, the definition of a “return” has not been limited to pounds and pence, though that is the ultimate objective.

So what has been our return from social media? In its purest, measurable form of generating income, we have developed an ongoing relationship with a blue chip company that began with an exchange of views on this blog. But there have been other returns too, that oil the wheels towards our destination.

This has included using social networks to develop new contacts in a range of fields whose knowledge we have been able to call upon when pitching for new business. Through listening to networks such as LinkedIn, we’ve been asked to quote for work, opened doors with decision makers where they otherwise may have remained shut and we’ve fostered true partnerships with our suppliers by providing recommendations and referring them to opportunities spotted online. Monitoring Twitter has helped us to protect and enhance client reputation, especially when influential people on the network have a grievance.

Granted, none of this is a guarantee of instant, financial success. But would we rather have it or not have it? In tough times (and, let’s face it, one measly tenth of a percentage point growth doesn’t make for a recovery) every tool in the new business box has to be sharpened, and social media is now one of them.

To borrow from Solis again, “Defining the “R” in ROI is where we need to focus, as it relates to our business goals and performance indicators specifically”.

In business, the “R” is beefing up the bottom line. But there’s more than one way of getting there and building a presence within social media can mean you leveraging a little help from your friends.

 

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

The social media pool – just dive in?

Friday, November 14th, 2008 by Jon Clements

 

“Hungrier, less complacent and more willing to embrace new media” for business.

That’s just one view why the US’s fastest-growing private companies – The Inc.500 – are giving the Fortune 500 a beating in terms of social media uptake, including use of blogs, online video and podcasting.

The findings come from what The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth claims to be the first statistically significant reseach into the use of social media in companies.

Comparing last year with this, 11.6% of the Fortune 500 have a public blog against 39% of the Inc.500.  Only 3.6% more of the largest US corporations joined the blogosphere in the period, while 20% of private firms signed up. Now, nearly half (44%) of the Inc.500 companies reckon social media is “very important” to their marketing/business strategy – up nearly 20% on last year.

So, what’s bugging the bigger beasts in the forest about social media? And if this is the case in the States, where does that leave the biggest UK companies? The topic surfaced at this week’s Social Media Cafe launch (#smc_mcr) in Manchester, where it was agreed that large businesses tend to baulk at what they see as the uncontrollable world of social media.

Craig McGinty, with typical candour, told the assembled bloggers and social media-ites at the #smc_mcr: “It needs someone with the cahunas to get things going. But that means taking small steps, dipping their toe in and using a small team which can begin to feel comfortable with it.”

This suggests that despite the fears among gatekeepers, lawyers, compliance departments and whatnot within the larger organisations, the communications world is moving that way and companies run the risk of being left behind. 

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Brave news world for the MEN

Thursday, September 18th, 2008 by Jon Clements

The new media world of Manchester’s bloggers came face to face with 140 years of newspaper heritage at the Manchester Evening News (MEN) last night.

But even a paper that began life in a “dingy office in Brown Street” has had to change with the times. Now housed in shiny offices, the decor is not the only thing that’s changed.

Assistant news editor, Paul Gallagher, explained how the MEN’s print, online capability and tie-up with Manchester TV station, Channel M, means that decisions on news are very much based on its suitability for the medium, though the paper tends to time the release of online news with the hard copy, so not to compete with itself.

What’s also changed is the way content comes together, combining old fashioned news hounding with readers’ online comments, video taken on reporters’ mobile phones and the work of citizen journalists. As Paul says: “The benchmark for a good story hasn’t changed. But you just have more people contributing to it.”

And the days of the “death knock” – visiting the homes of the recently bereaved in search of a story and, vitally, a photo – may be numbered with newspapers like the MEN turning to online tribute sites for the material they need.

Head of online editorial, Sarah Hartley, described the paper’s move to greater online content and gave a sneak preview of the live blogging and Twittering planned for the Labour Party Conference in Manchester, which starts this Saturday in Manchester.

Still, it was great to see some relics from the past remain, such as the MEN’s hard copy reference library (see pic).

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''