This morning I was part of a two-hour panel discussion sponsored by Edelman PR on the effect of blogging on business. Also on the panel: Fiona McDonnell of Forrester Research, Peter Olsthoorn, a journalist, and Richard Edelman, CEO of guess what company. About 50 business people and journalists showed up.
I went first and talked for about 15 mins on what blogs aren’t: Bloggers are not journalists (by and large). Blogs aren’t a medium any more than conversations are a medium. The long tail isn’t straight; it’s knotted with links and conversations. We don’t just talk about our cats, but if our cats are interesting to us, then why wouldn’t we write about them? There is no one definition of blogs, but I find it useful to pay attention to: 1. The way blogs are our selves in the new public of the Web; 2. The way the fallibility of blogs creates intimacy; 3. The fact that blogs are conversational in ways that the mass media simply can’t be. Finally, blogging is not a fad.
Fiona presented the result of Forrester’s studies showing that the influence of the Net is continuing to increase and that we trust other people like ourselves more than we trust authorities. (This finding is consonant with Edelman’s “trust index.”) Then Peter gave a journalist’s view, worrying about the unreliability of blogs as they gain influence. We hadn’t seen each other’s slides beforehand, and his final one flat out disagreed with my final one; his said “Journalism is for real. Blogging is hype.” (That’s a paraphrase.) What can I say? Peter is a very smart guy with a lot of experience as a journalist, and we disagree. Then Richard talked about how the rise of blogging in particular and the Web in general is changing the practice of PR. He is encouraging clients to blog, and writes his own here. (Disclosure: I am a consultant to Edelman PR.)
Afterwards Richard and I flew to Paris where tomorrow we have a similar session, moderated by no less than Loic Le Meur. Immediately after that, I fly home. I love Paris and wish I had more than an hour of free time here, but I am very ready to be home for a looong time…
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