PR - Crisis and Management

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

How Blogs can become PR nightmares


A blog is an interactive site where the owner can update information by creating new posts. Blogs are easy and inexpensive to set-up. Blogs often focus on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news. Some blogs function as a users personal diary or journal. A typical blog combines images, text, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. Since its appearance in 1995, blogging has emerged as a popular means of communication, affecting public opinion and mass media around the world (Wikipedia.com)

All of this seems great, but the interactive nature of blogs not only allows for the spread of information, they also serve as a means for consumers to vent about products and build hostility toward organizations. Blogs have become a new way for customers to log complaints but with a national or even international scope. Blogs are dangerous in terms of public relations because they allow users to post responses to an owner's site which allows controversies to gather steam and gain a following from hostile consumers. Because blogs are often based on opinion, the real danger comes when other users build upon that opinion and create a chain reaction of complaints and dissatisfaction. One blogger can affect the opinions of thousands.

In response to negative blogging, organizations need to stay abreast of what their customers needs and wants are as well as consumers are saying about their product, service or organization. Following the steps of crisis public relations management, it is better to own up to any mistakes and work to correct them. Organizations should also try to counter negative publicity on blogs by posting positive stories about their product or industry. Organizations should also use blogs as an opportunity to foster two-way communication with customers and use the web to interact with customers to stay current with their needs and wants.

Wal-Mart "began working with bloggers in late 2005. Heading the program is Marshall Manson, of the PR firm Edelman. Manson contacted bloggers who wrote postings that either endorsed the retailer or challenged its critics.

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