Here is a short translation of my guest post on JKL blog yesterday.
Blogging is starting to become a hot topic in Swedish media. The number of articles has risen from just 2 articles in 2001, to 56 in 2002, 105 in 2003 and 81 so far this year. The lion share of these articles, or two thirds, are from IT and technology trade press while meta media (media about media) is almost invisible. But Sweden is still lagging behind the US where blogs are debated and exploited by both journalists and PR professionals.
Blogs affect how media work and thereby also people in PR and communication, since blogs have the possibility to transform the relationship media producer/consumer to a conversation. For example, the TV channel VH-1 recently put up a blog for a show they were launching and comments and ideas from the public found its way into the show’s script. Some journalists check facts with bloggers, while others find that their planned scoop for a follow up article is already out on the net, because bloggers have already thought along the same lines. A thousand minds think better than one, you might say.
Some of these new micro media become opinion leaders and how do we as communicators relate to them? Can you pitch a story to a blogger and how do you do that? Communicators often want to have control over information, not from a propaganda perspective, but to have the whole picture in order to make the right decisions. We want to know what is being said about our brand. All this becomes more complicated when blogs become more established in Sweden. One wonders when the first service is launched that monitors and alerts when my brand is mentioned in a blog. Maybe it already exists, if you know, please tell me.
So why is the blogging phenomena not being discussed at all in Swedish marketing and journalism press? The first and most obvious reason is that there are almost no commercial cases to talk about. Corporate blogs are still rare in Sweden. Another reason I think is that the blogosphere is like a universe of its own and if you are not participating in the dialogue, you just don’t realize the potential and the implications of this new form of communication. The blogospere is a little like a black hole, if you come too close you get sucked in and get absorbed, but before that it is all black, you just don’t see it.
My advice to PR professionals in Sweden is that they should start their own blog right now, just to get acquainted with the format, it is easy and free and you can blog anonymously. Once you have decided a theme and you feel that your blog is running smoothly you can make it public and start to market it, although the marketing bit seems almost unnecessary, since blogs are so viral they almost market themselves. That should be enough incentive for any marketer.