Journalists are flooded daily with press releases, most of which they never have time to read. Consumers are also inundated with advertisements everywhere they turn. PR practitioners have the daunting task of getting their company’s message out there. In order for their message to be noticed amongst all the competition, the PR practitioner must be forward thinking and creative. One approach companies are starting to take to reach its stakeholders is the creation of a company blog.

            Wayne Hurlbert, of Blog Business World, said in his blog:

 “Blogs provide a unique and personal way to communicate with current and prospective customers. By talking to people, in a conversational manner, a blog puts a human face on a company that is difficult to duplicate in any other way.”

As consumers become more aware of the business practices behind the brands they support, the past PR practice of controlling the message is no longer effective. The best vehicle to create an open dialogue between company and consumer is through a blog. Hurlbert explains that the conversational voice of the blogger changes the image of the company from being a “faceless corporation” into a company that is run by real people with real thoughts and ideas. 

Now that businesses are becoming more transparent, and public acceptance of controlled messages are a thing of the past, the average person has more power than ever before. Instead of filing a grievance to a company that may never be heard, average people have the power to appraise companies on a blog, for the whole world to see. According to an article in the Economist, employees are using blogs to draw attention to internal disputes and to win public support, putting pressure for employers to make changes before a strike is needed.

Web 2.0 gives the average person to broadcast pretty much whatever they like to the rest of the world. The whole concept of citizen journalism completely changes the way that journalists and PR practitioners should approach their work. In Joseph Thornley’s post, Citizen Journalism: Weapon of ‘Mass’ Destruction?, he mentions Angus Frame of Globeandmail.com, who believes that comments received from its readers greatly enhances the newspaper’s content and its relationship with its readers.

Thornley also referenced Mark Evans, who claimed that there aren’t many citizen journalists out there, rather “citizen observers.” Whatever you call them, people who previously had no voice, now have a huge impact on journalism and PR.

With the dramatically increased power of the consumer, PR practitioners must be humbled and no longer try to control the message. If we are honest and transparent with our stakeholders, we will gain the respect of the public. If not, the public will find out and it will be extremely detrimental to our organization. As PR practitioners, we must give up trying to control the message, and join in an active conversation with our stakeholders.

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