Companies Unaware of Blog Threat to Brands

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Source Title:
Firms in the dark over blog threat
Story Text:

I can't say im surprised to learn that two thirds of companies surveyed are unaware of blog threats to their brands (free sub req'd), but it's interesting to note now a figure has been put on it.

Nearly two-thirds of businesses have not woken up to the threat posed to their brands and reputations by disgruntled bloggers, a survey of PR professionals revealed today.

While more than 60% of PR executives interviewed believed that web blogs by unhappy employees or exasperated customers can damage corporate reputations, but 58% said businesses were insufficiently aware of the threat.

We've talked about the reality (to a small extent) of Search marketers making money from companies that need to see bad SERPS buried, but there's also a growing market in education one would have thought...

thanks james!

Comments

Change the word blog to website

I think that if the word 'blog' in the question was changed to 'website' then the number would have been higher in the UK.

I spoke to a city councillor recently about a site I run and asked him if he had read the blog and he said that he had only read the website. I know the respondents in the survey were PR execs, I still think that they don't look at them as blogs they look at them more as negative websites.

Yes, UK public haven't a clue what blogs are

Article in The Register today

Quote:
Indeed, a survey of taxi drivers, pub landlords and hairdressers ("often seen as barometers of popular trends" according to Reuters, though God alone knows when hairdressers became barometers of anything), by ad outfit DDB London showed that 90 per cent of barometers have not the foggiest idea what a podcast is, and an impressive 70 per cent live in blissful ignorance of blogging.

True re the term: blog

Most people don't know what a "blog" is, and they don't know how they work.

As opposed to a normal website, blogs can be pretty confusing to the regular person, starting with the whole "recent posts on the home page" thing. What's worse, many blogs don't make a particular effort to make it easier; there's often no About page, no sitemap, nothing much to guide the visitor beyond "next" links. Is it a wonder that non-techies don't get it?

> Is it a wonder that

> Is it a wonder that non-techies don't get it?

No, and I think you have a good point here, Diane! Blogging is just a simple form of CMS, really, but most blogs lack most the qualities we usually expect from "normal" websites such as nice design, good navigation (not just the geeky kind!) and general user friendlyness. But then again, thats how the web looked in 96 too and blogging is still very young and yes, geeky :)

LOL

You're right, Mikkel!

I've made it a point, when setting up blogs, to make it clear where the visitor is.

I think all category, monthly and daily pages ought to be indexes; they ought to list just titles, snippets and, perhaps, date of the post. And they ought to *say* if it's a category page, etc., and name what category that is.

Otherwise, the problem is that you never know what page you're on, or how to maneuver around. WordPress has gotten better about this, but in the beginning, every page looked the same. Lots of working adding templates. And a sitemap. :)

Not dropping a link, but: developedtraffic.com

Crikey Diane, this aint wmw

Crikey Diane, this aint wmw ya know :)

Diane's Blog

Well ...

Crikey: I like that word. :)

That's *one* of Diane's three blogs. Diane talks a lot. LOL

Actually had a few

Actually had a few discussions on this subject recently - it's strange that even some tech-savvy people will consider blogs / forums / etc to be somehow self-contained and no more than barely believable mumblings of a stranger. Yet one of the first things taught in any marketing course, book, etc will be how 1 disgruntled person will tell 10 more, who will tell 10 more, who will tell 10 more....

Is it the technology that invokes some kind of tunnel vision - perhaps the subliminal perception that opinions online aren't real and in fact are somehow auto-generated? Not far from the truth in some cases though! **looks at the blog spammers** ;)

It is truely unsettling to see a seasoned marketing professional sneer at the prospect of bad blog publicity, fully aware that it will be exposed to thousands of people and could possibly explode out of control - while at the same time will happily spend hours on the phone or in person keeping a single client happy because that's part of "real" marketing.

MG

Well ...

Ignorance is bliss? :)

People who aren't at least somewhat familiar with the Web just don't know what's out there.

but -

stop trying to talk yourselves up :p

it's strange that even some

it's strange that even some tech-savvy people will consider blogs / forums / etc to be somehow self-contained and no more than barely believable mumblings of a stranger.

Sounds about right. The most vocal people on blogs and forums are usually several sandwiches short of a picnic. IMHO.

Unless you're running or moderating a forum, most normal people are living their lives instead of posting their rantings.

Yet one of the first things taught in any marketing course, book, etc will be how 1 disgruntled person will tell 10 more, who will tell 10 more, who will tell 10 more....

Nice theory, but the world doesn't work like that.

Microsoft is one of the most bad mouthed companies on the planet I reckon, yet their sales nor profits are hurting. Same with Dell. Lots of bad publicity, but they're still growing like mad.

Or how about the big 4 UK banks? Everyone bitches are them and how you can get a better deal elsewhere, but they're still profiting into the billions each year.

Every company of any stature has it's detractors. Only when bad publicity hits the mainstream press do they repent. Until then, they keep focusing on marketing to drive sales and that continues to serve them well.

>>Nice theory, but the world

>>Nice theory, but the world doesn't work like that.

Actually, it works exactly like that. The fact that some larger firms have enough market grip to ride it out is neither here nor there. Bad news traveling faster than good is a fact nonetheless.

This can affect a company like MS in lots of ways, whilst sales may not see a blip. Without that bad feeling, you're more likely to be able to get away with stuff others might be pounced on for, for example.

Take Google, they've not yet reached the stage that MS have with bad feeling, though they're well on that road. Google are getting away with some very serious stuff that would have had MS in court by now with privacy and monopoly issues, not to mention blatant copyright abuse.

Microsoft ...

>Microsoft is one of the most bad mouthed companies on the planet >I reckon, yet their sales nor profits are hurting. Same with >Dell. Lots of bad publicity, but they're still growing like mad.

I don't think that is the best comparison to make! MS are one of the largest companies in the UK and their OS is still the most userfriendly for the majority of people (lets face it, the average Jo Blogs(get it?) will find it hard to adapt to something like linux, and may not be able to afford a mac).

Look at it another way. Not long ago I was debating what restaurant to visit in an unknown area. I decided to take to the internet and found somewhere that sounded quite nice. A good search sent me to a blog with some ranting about the service and the food in the place so I decided to go elsewhere.

Nice theory, but the world

Nice theory, but the world doesn't work like that.

I don't think TP will agree the world doesn't work like this. The difference is that people's complaints online become set in stone.

Given the increasing use of search engines in the decision making / research process, any bad publicity online can be infinitely more damaging then some random chat offline - it lasts as long as search engines index it.

How can you quantify how many customers you lost because they read something bad about you? (IMO consumers in general aren't savvy enough to distinguish between informed opinion and BS online)

Sounds about right. The most vocal people on blogs and forums are usually several sandwiches short of a picnic. IMHO.

Unless you're running or moderating a forum, most normal people are living their lives instead of posting their rantings.

Perhaps, but that's not the thought process of consumers nor traditional marketers. The former will generally take opinions on board and the latter will generally dismiss the opinions (or try to stifle them).

The issue that PR and marketing people need to learn about is how to manage this stuff online. Yeh, there are some nutter blogger / forum posters. But these need to be managed appropriately. Knowing when to respond, how to respond, the impact of bad PR, etc - these are techniques that PR professionals need to embrace for the online world.

It's such a different area - the bog standard corporate Americana bullsh!t just doesn't work. Any PR officer responding to a blog / forum post with corporate BS will get eaten alive.

This is why offline business needs to be better educated about online marketing issues IMO.

we're back to the blog puppy thing *again*.!

Any PR officer responding to anything with corporate BS deserves to get eaten alive.

Once again, I really don't see how blogs are so special. Sure they bring the discussion somewhat more into the mainstream because they are so easy to publish to, but before blogs there were (and still are) consumer review sites, before that there were local papers (hotbeds of "angry of T-wells" letters) and TV Programmes (anyone who's ever had a client appear on WatchDog can tell you exactly how fair the reporting on some of those is!).

This is not an issue of offline-v-online - look at how Google, probably the most 'online' company there is - handles their PR. It's an issue of 'gets it'-v-'duh', or, if you prefer an issue which is as old as the hills and on which both sides have strong proponents, if there's something bad said should you fuel the fire or not?

My other comment would be that sometimes the best way to address negative PR may not be to respond directly, especially if negative-giver is clearly a nutter. Some companies may be increasing their positive efforts elsewhere, because when alls said and done while yes most consumers will believe neg reports they will also read another two or three, and if they're all positive.....

Once again, I really don't

Once again, I really don't see how blogs are so special. Sure they bring the discussion somewhat more into the mainstream because they are so easy to publish to, but before blogs there were (and still are) consumer review sites, before that there were local papers (hotbeds of "angry of T-wells" letters) and TV Programmes (anyone who's ever had a client appear on WatchDog can tell you exactly how fair the reporting on some of those is!).

The thing is, there are millions of blogs, only one TV show (with very limited time slot), only thousands of consumer review sites (which blogs are likely to link to btw), and local papers? Well if you're target audience is the blue rinse crowd then i guess that's important...

Blogs link to one another, they increase eachothers rankings in Search engines, they have cross site discussions on issues like the ones we're describing.

It *is* a big deal, and yeah, blogs *are* different to those sites more geared toward broadcast, and those more geared toward the walled-garden approach (forums).

mmmm

ok - special because of the exposure. And yes your response will be seen by a lot of people. But unless you happen to upset an a-lister most discussion is likely to be fairly reasoned with people putting both sides.

bad news is soooo much more

bad news is soooo much more blogable that good news though...

take tw for example heh..

In some cases yes, but not

In some cases Gurtie, yes, but not always. I've had people coming to my forum and moaning about some company or another. It wasn't that negative publicity that was a problem - it was the fact that the thread then ranked top 5 for the brand name of the company and every now and again more people would come and bump the thread with "me too - they suck" type posts.

Offline, that would never happen.

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