Should PR target bloggers?

31 Jan

My PR class is considering whether or not blogs can be an effective tactic in a PR campaign.  Apparently, one of my favorite brands is evaluating this concept as well.

The New York Times reported that Target refused to answer a blogger’s question because it didn’t “participate with nontraditional media outlets.” Then, PR Week reported that Target was reconsidering its policy after restructuring its communications department to increase the number of spokespeople. 

Target said its decision not to engage with bloggers or trade publications was a resource issue.  I can empathize with that.  But, I also think that there are other options for prioritizing how you respond to enquiries.  One option is to prioritize based on importance to your target audience.  The publications, Web sites, and blogs read most often by customers get questions answered the fastest. Those less relevant to your target audiences are answered as soon as possible after. Of course, the PR group should try to answer all questions, but it’s not always possible – especially if you’re a big consumer brand.

Another option: Empower your employees to blog about their areas of expertise. Product developers, advertising and marketing managers, and customer service representatives can answer questions and provide details and context in a simple post. Many of these employees are already customer-facing and answering similar questions at trade shows, in customer visits or on the phone, so the PR risks are low.  

A priceless benefit to being more open:  Employee bloggers (as Microsoft discovered when they permitted employees to blog) put a human face on a corporate monolith and add an air of authenticity.

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