Every PR practitioner should be familiar with blogging, just as every credible practitioner, regardless of their specialization, must be familiar with the essentials of media relations, effective writing, measurement and the other fundamentals of our business.
I think that we are still in the early days of blogging. The ignition point, in my view, will be when Internet Explorer 7 hits desktops and the other 90% of the world suddenly start to see the orange RSS button alongside their favorites icon.
When this happens, social media will be recognized as a communications channel as essential to the well-rounded public relations program as are media relations, websites, speeches, special events, direct mail and word of mouth. And blogging will become “business normal.”
I believe that, as an employer, my company has an obligation to encourage all of the practitioners in my firm to explore blogging. As a minimum, everyone must be familiar with it as a communications channel. And those who have the inclination, passion and viewpoint necessary to express their own voice must be given the tools to explore active participation in the conversation.
Understanding and saying this is the easy part. But what do we do to actually help people to explore and engage in social media?
Well, several things.
At my firm, Thornley Fallis Communications, I’ve assumed the role of chief cheerleader for social media. I’ve started my own internal and public blogs to underscore that social media are important to our future and that our firm is totally committed to embracing and using blogs, wikis, podcasts and other tools.
I’ve been joined in this by several of the members of our leadership team. David Jones explores working in and on the PR industry from a Canadian perspective and our 76design team talk about new projects, new ideas and new discoveries in a group blog. Soon, Terry Fallis and David Jones will be launching a podcast profiling the leaders of the Canadian PR consulting community.
So, we’re walking the talk by actively engaging in the conversation.
We’ve allocated resources to research social media and install testbed internal wikis and blogs.
We’ve researched newsreaders and adopted FeedDemon as our corporate standard, encouraging everyone to install it on their desktop.
We’ve subscribed to webinars on social media and organized “lunch and learns” to share our impressions and experiences.
Now, we are taking a next step: We are setting up a blog for each and every one of our employees. Junior to senior. Frontline client servicers to backend accounting staff.
We’re making these blogs available behind our firewall so that anyone who has the inclination to test their voice can do it in the safety of our corporate environment. We’re encouraging people to use their blogs to share project information, to express opinions on business issues, to entertain, whatever they want.
I know that many people will not post to their internal blogs. That’s OK. Active blogging isn’t for everyone. But we’re making the tool available in the same way that we offer all our employees media monitoring services, media list generation databases and word processors and spreadsheets.
I’d be interested in hearing what other PR consulting firms are doing in this regard.