Consumers use blogs to get even with brands

I was reading this post on Whatsnextblog about how disgruntled former employees use the internet for revenge. A few minutes later I stumbled onto this website,, which is a blog that was “created because Saab Sweden and it’s agent in South Africa are having big problems for the last six months, and we, Saab owners, are the victims of that!” There seems to be at least 17 Saab owners committed to the blog and they claim to have had 9000 visitors during the last week.

The initial reaction is of course that this is a public relations disaster for Saab in South Africa, but because of the viral nature of blogs, these things have a tendency to spread. One post was made on the subject in a discussion forum at UK Saab owners club and traditional media reported about the site too. One wonders if Saab has a strategy in place to monitor if and how this spreads through the blogosphere?

For the record I have a Saab 9-5 and I’m very satisfied with it, but then again, I’m not in South Africa.

Swedish politicians lagging in the blogosphere

Every American politician that hasn’t been asleep for the last 12 months has a blog. Former Danish Prime Minister Paul Nyrup Rasmussen has two, one of his own and a Euroblog for the Euro Election Campaign. The Iranian Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi has a blog.

So what happened to the once great IT nation Sweden? Did the dotcom bust hit us so bad we’re still unable to get up and try new stuff? It is really surprising that no Swedish politicians has found the blog medium yet (at least to my knowledge, I might add). The Swedish Trade Union Confederation has just started off a blog project with 7 young people having one blog each (typical but understandable that they choose to experiment with a younger audience), but in the first four weeks they have not been able to come up with more than 20 posts in total, so it’s not that impressing. Sure there have been blogs about politics, like the election blog in 2002, but that was initiated by a consulting company called Oops AB and not run by any party or organisation.

Jan Emanuel Johansson supposedly used blogs in 2002 to get elected, but his homepage has no blog today and it has not been updated since June 2003. Since there is an election to the European Parliament on June 13, one would have expected at least one or two blogs to pop up. If you know of one, please enlighten me with a comment.

UPDATE: Fredrik Wackå informed me about Anna-Maria Linqvist Arrue who is a social democratic candidate for the European Parliament, with her own blog.

First corporate blog post to find its way into mainstream media

Today might be a small landmark in the short history of Swedish corporate blogging. This has to be the first example in Sweden, where a post in a corporate blog finds its way into mainstream media (both entries in Swedish only, but see my comment in a recent post). Anders Kempe and Anders Lindberg at PR agency JKL comments on the state of Swedish media, and it got picked up by the political chief editor of Svenska Dagbladet (large Swedish daily).

Congrats to Billy McCormac (who I will have the pleasure of meeting on Wednesday, in real life…) of JKL who is one of the driving forces behind their pioneering corporate blog.

Q&A with Nick Denton

PRWEEK.COM has an interesting Q&A; with Nick Denton of Gawker Media about how blogs influence the public relations profession.

Q. What is the biggest impact citizen journalism will have on the public relations practice?

– SR, New York A. Blogs provide a filter between PR professionals and journalists. Reporters have been increasingly overwhelmed by pitches. They don’t open their emails or answer the phone a lot of the time. Some of the more savvy journalists are looking at the web as a filter. Smart PR professionals need to start looking at indirect ways to reach reporters and subtle pitches to weblogs or the creation of weblogs for a specific campaign. That’s a good way for PR professionals to get an idea out there in the hopes that it will get to influential reporters.

Blogs a vital part of a media revolt manifesto

Conglomeration, consolidation, corporatism and infotainment journalism prevents vital information from reaching citizens in favour of trivia and issues that serve the agenda of corporate powers. Big media threatens the few non-commercial voices, i.e. public service, that still don’t suffer from bottom line myopia and metrofication (short shallow news in contrast to investigative reporting, like the model of international free paper Metro). The result is a vanishing debate in society and a status quo in political regimes on both sides of the pond. This is, in short, the situation at the moment if you listen to some influential commentators. The solution? An extreme media makeover?

Pontus Schultz, journalist and media debater at web publication reflects on a debate he participated in the other day, where Eva Hamilton, potentially a coming leader of Swedish public service channels SVT voiced her worries over the threats against public service television. ”Public service has never been under such an attack as now”, she meant, not only referring to political pressure on SVT’s role model BBC. She also pointed at coordinated attacks on EU-level from the commercial interests that want to limit the space for public service, on programming level and regarding what possibilities public service should have in the new media arena.

At the same time Anders Kempe and Anders Lindberg at PR agency JKL argues that Swedish media needs to be challenged more and that Sweden has turned into a one party state (sound familiar?) where few dare to challenge the ruling social democratic regime and their followers. With the same party in charge 21 of the last 24 years, everyone pretty much assumes a leftist government win also in 2006. It costs more and more for those who have opposing opinions and the tendency by corporations is to nurture relations with the ruling crowd instead of focusing on opinion building, minimizing the debate in society down to a minimum. Few dare to challenge the powers of leading politicians and media.

Or as Amy Goodman put it when she spoke with NEWSWEEK’s Brian Braiker about what she sees as the corruption of mainstream media.

In your book, you fault the media for asking softball questions in return for access to those in power.

Right. We call it the ‘access of evil’: Trading truth for access.

David Neiwert, a freelance journalist based in Seattle runs a blog called Orcinus, where he not only analyses the problems of journalism today, but also suggest a solution – a media revolt manifesto (please read this post, it’s very long but it’s worth it). He claims that media is not fulfilling its obligations today. Conglomeration and infotainment journalism prevents vital information from reaching citizens.

”Conglomeration and the increasing grip of monolithic corporatism has reduced the diversity of voices and viewpoints that are available to the public at all levels, from small local papers to major networks.”

His suggestion for a counter attack on media is summarized in a Media Revolt Manifesto. Interestingly he points to blogs as a means of shifting the power balance and increase diversity.

”But we have to get organized. And after years of wandering in the

wilderness, I believe that 2004 is the year to make it happen — if for no other reason than that the stakes are so high.

The main reason, though, is that I think the tools for serious change are finally within our reach. And the chief tool is the Internet, the

blogosphere in particular.

Blogs represent, in fact, the real democratization of journalism, which traditionally has always been about the work of keeping the public duly and properly informed. Stories and vital facts now no longer need go through the New York Times and NBC News in order to gain wide distribution. Blogs can effectively reach as many people as several large city dailies combined. And the network of their combined efforts represents a massive shift of data around the traditional media filters.

Blogs can also be terrific means for organizing, particularly for putting together a concerted response to political and media atrocities. One need only survey the ability of blogs to affect real-world politics — their role in bringing about the fall of Trent Lott was just a start — to understand that their power can readily extend to reshaping the media, since they represent in themselves a kind of citizens’ solution to needed reforms in the media.”

He continues:

“Blogs, in other words, can and should play the role abdicated by the mainstream media both in monitoring their own behaviour and ethics, and in providing enough diversity that a wealth of viewpoints are given fair treatment, as in any healthy democratic society, and the public properly served.”

I’m not convinced that journalists agree with all this. Nevertheless, that’s a huge responsibility. Are we ready to bring the power back to the people, or do we rather lean back in the sofa in front of the latest reality show?

Rising coverage of blogs

Overstated has an interesting overview of how many times the word blog or weblog has been mentioned in media. There has been a significant increase in coverage since early 2003.

I touched on this in a previous post, when I looked at the situation in Sweden. I performed the same search again (but this time excluded the brand names Weblogic and Weblogistics) for the search terms “blog*” and “weblog*” in Swedish media via Retriever (searches web based sources only). In Sweden, the coverage started to take off in November of 2003. Noteworthy is that in my previous analysis I found that IT and technology trade press almost made up two thirds of all articles, while marketing and journalism press had almost none.

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The first Swedish mention I found was from a two year old unsigned article in Ny Teknik (New Technology) on May 2, 2002, explaining the new acronym “blog”.

Link via Corporate Engagement.