Thursday, November 03, 2005

My Notes from a Kent State Panel Yesterday

Many months ago, I got an invite to take part in a panel about blogging and new media at Kent State Univ. Journalism School. Originally set for early fall (or was it late spring?), it was later moved back to November. It was convened by PRNewswire, and hosted by the J-School, whose director Jeff Fruit I know (though just a bit) from an earlier life. Could our only regional journalism school be getting increasingly serious about teaching students to harness the web in new ways to tell stories, report news and connect communities? I think it is and will. I'm hoping to be part of that effort and conversation, and yesterday was just a first quick dip of the toe into those waters. But this conversation happened to be more a general overview for the p.r. community (and their corporate clients) about what this new online medium is all about. Curiosity from that quarter seems boundless.

Anyway, below are my cheat sheet talking points I prepared ahead of time, a copy of which I left for anyone interested in more information. I didn't get to all the points in my brief slot, but got to work in some more during the Q&A. I'll add some more detail and context about the discussion/venue/etc. tomorrow. Meanwhile, you can enjoy (or perhaps take part in) the ever-blossoming conversational thread this event touched off on my friend George's ubiquitous BFD. Mr. IWAS (Instapundit with a Soul) was also good enough to post the PDF version of the event announcement here, since neither of the co-hosts (PRNewswire and KSU J-School) ever managed to get around to that.

Working With Online Media & Blogs • 11/2/’05
PRNewswire Media Coffee @ Kent State Univ.

Why Blogs Matter
• More influential than any web function but email, the free, easy-to-use blogging tools have meant an end to time when “freedom of press belongs only to those who own one.”
• But, contrary to myth, blogs are not necessarily by/for techies. They were just first adopters.
• Despite much blogger triumphalism about the medium being revolutionary, and it is in some respects, its evolutionary aspects are more important. Blogging (and its audio twin, podcasting) and traditional journalism/media are increasingly converging into a hybrid: online media.
EXAMPLES: Washingtonmonthly, NYObserver, collects blogs on Judy Miller
• As blogging matures and ad business models (Google Adsense,, are refined, increasing numbers of people with journalism skills will be blogging, and putting more time and energy into it. “Tip jar” tales already abound.
• Some one-person blogs have audiences similar in size to major papers/magazines, and even many smaller blogs have influence out of proportion to their size because they’re followed by people in media, tech and business and other positions of influence.

Implications for P.R. Industry
• Audience eyeballs are increasingly moving to online media, and ad dollars are following. Your clients & their reputations are already being affected (sometimes not by the blog posts themselves but by comments from readers).
• Yet, almost by definition, the majority of blogs are inhospitable, if not outright hostile, to PR pitches, at least as traditionally constituted. They prefer authentic communication from principals. Just as in all PR (doubly so here), know & understand your target first.
• Web search is crucial, & blogs are uniquely effective search optimization tool.

Some Key Recent Developments
• New Tech Bubble? AOL pays $20 million for Weblogs, Inc., consortium of 100 blogs.
• Wonkette on cover of NYT Mag with old-time reporters (including Akron native R.W. Apple) looking over her shoulder. Seen as a tipping point by many.
• Dan Rather/Trent Lott cases, among others. “Age of Omniscience is over” – Jeff Jarvis

To Dig Deeper –Some Sites to Study -New York ad guy’s excellent overview of blogs’ impact on PR – viral marketing guru Seth Godin’s thoughtful blog. – NYU prof’s blog on intersection of new media & ad/pr industry. -- USC Annenberg J-School’s excellent Online Journalism Review. -- best list of blogs by journalists. – Portal to NEOhio blogging community. Look for blogroll. --Maybe best blog by PR practitioner in this region., media’s online watercooler/ethics ump


At 1:09 PM, Blogger Jill said...

Thanks for sharing, John.

At 6:50 PM, Anonymous Little E said...

You sure write a lot more than you talk,said a not so close family member!


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