Blog blather

23 Aug

The CIPR member magazine Profile reaches me today. In his editorial director general Colin Farrington keeps up his ironic commentary on blogs. ‘If there are any good blogs still around in six months I’ll come back to it’ he writes on page 8.

No need to wait so long. Page 10 is devoted to a ‘blogging basics’ feature by rising star Edelman executive Stephen Davies. And page 11 has an article by BBC media correspondent Torin Douglas, you guessed it, on blogging. ‘Love them or hate them, blogs can no longer be ignored,’ he concludes.

I’ve been blogging for five years; I don’t think I’ve ever over-hyped the phenomenon. So what do I want Colin and other sceptics to consider? Two things:

  1. Blogging does no more and no less than helping to realise Tim Berners-Lee’s original concept of the web as a universal information space which it’s as easy to edit as to browse. (You judge whether that’s important or not.)
  2. There’s a difference in blogging about public relations (my lot in life), and blogging for public relations purposes (the theme of the Torin Douglas article). There’s also another use for blogs in PR: as a way of listening to what people are saying about brands and companies, as Stephen discusses.

‘What you say, what you do, and what others say about you’ is a key phrase from the CIPR’s definition of public relations. Certainly, blogging defines public relations even less well than media relations does; but it provides new channels and gives us access to more public voices. A practitioner who wilfully ignores channels and who refuses to listen to the public surely can’t be a great adornment to our professional body. It may be good to talk; isn’t it even better to listen?

13 Responses to “Blog blather”

  1. David Phillips FCIPR 23/08/2006 at 7:55 pm #

    Sir Peter Stothard is Editor of the Times Literary Supplement, the international journal of books and ideas. Between 1992 and 2002 he was Editor of The Times and in 2003 he wrote, Thirty Days, a fly-on-the-wall account of Tony Blair in Downing Street during the Iraq War. He writes on politics and literature, ancient and modern. Of course, he is a blogger. It is such a pity that Colin will mis so much of his wonderful commentary for so long.
    For the record the URL is:

  2. David Phillips FCIPR 23/08/2006 at 8:00 pm #

    What you say Richard may explian why 50 CIPR members in the West of England are spending four hours on the subject of new media tomorrow.
    Does the DG believe they are wasting their time?
    How rude!

  3. Simon Collister 23/08/2006 at 9:29 pm #

    Richard, I’m glad you have picked up on this again. I meant to get around to posting about it but didn’t find time today.
    I am amazed that Colin can end his article: “we work in an positive and optimistic profession” despite opening it with such negative and pessimistic (some would say, ill informed) remarks.
    Once again he shoots himself in the foot by saying I won’t comment on blogs in this issue… and then goes on to have a quick dig thinking no-one will notice!
    Is he in-tune with the wider profession – or even the wider CIPR? Two informed articles on blogging follow his as you observe and as David points out, there is plenty of demand for new media training provided largely by the regional groups or third parties.
    I pay good money to be a member of the CIPR and it doesn’t fill me with pride when the DG disgorges views such as those in Profile.
    Maybe I’ll give the CIPR six months and come back to it…

  4. Rob Skinner 23/08/2006 at 9:56 pm #

    Let’s be clear what we are dealing with here. The CIPR’s DG has been kidnapped and replaced by Victor Meldrew. This is a very serious matter. I think we should be told the truth. Has Michael Bland been drafted in to advise CIPR on how to handle the crisis?

  5. James Bruni 24/08/2006 at 12:13 am #

    Was Stephen Davies responsible for the disastrous Walmart/Edelman blogging campaign?
    Check out technorati and the thousands of posts dissing Walmart and Andy Young. For some a real perspective on Edelman and Walmart, read my oped in today’s edition of
    Strumpette and other blogs are taking bets on how long the “m2revolution” blogging unit at Edelman will last. My bet is that it folds within the next few days. (leaving Mr. Davies without a job).

  6. Stephen Davies 24/08/2006 at 9:50 am #

    “Was Stephen Davies responsible for the disastrous Walmart/Edelman blogging campaign?”
    Aaah, that says everything. I rest my case.
    P.S. You might want to check out David Brain’s latest video blog.

  7. Paull Young 25/08/2006 at 3:57 am #

    I for one am convinced that Stephen Davies WAS responsible for the Wal Mart campaign.
    Also his work: third world debt, Australia’s loss in the last Ashes series, smallpox, and your mother forcing you to eat brocolli as a child.
    Bad guy that Davies fella ;-).

  8. 25/08/2006 at 3:55 pm #

    The CIPR ostrich

    The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) proclaims it is the eyes, ears and voice of the public relations industry in the UK.
    I think thats rather worrying.
    It seems to me that those eyes, ears and voice are deeply roote…

  9. A PR Guru's Musings - Stuart Bruce 26/08/2006 at 9:55 am #

    CIPR’s elected officers must clarify policy

    Colin Farrington has been at it again with his latest comments on blogs – he doesn’t tackle any other forms of social media, but perhaps that’s a good thing! I won’t rehash the arguments about why Colin has got it

  10. Stephen 26/08/2006 at 7:02 pm #

    Paull, I put my hands up… but brocolli!? I could never be **that** evil.

  11. Simonsays 30/08/2006 at 2:45 pm #

    PR professionals need a social media Code of Conduct

    Constantin Basturea reports that a debate is ranging over at Wikipedia about the use of ‘pay-for-edit’ firms writing clients’ entries. The debate was sparked by a US firm, MyWikiBiz, which charges clients $49 to produce a stub or $79 for

  12. David Brain 01/09/2006 at 2:21 pm #

    I thought I posted this ocmment last week when I first saw your blog. Must have hit wrong button again. Here is the letter I sent to Colin via
    Dear Colin
    I have been following the debate you stirred up on blogging with some interest. I have resisted joining the ranks of your critics to date, but your latest editorial seems to indicate you may now have dug into an extreme position which reflects badly on our industry. You are missing the big point in all of this which is that blogging and the whole social media or Web 2.0 ‘thing’ is actually a terrific opportunity for us and one that you and the CIPR should be grasping and embracing rather than poking a stick at. In fact, it is you who appear to many of us as the “tetchy emperor”.
    Our very own Stephen Davies, two pages on from your leader in Profile magazine, makes a good case (so thanks to you and the Institute for giving the space for that). More of it please. I run Edelman’s European operations and can tell you that we are investing heavily in people (like Stephen) in all our offices in Europe and in research to understand and help clients navigate their way through blogs and the ‘space’. Even though you seem to think there will be no ‘good ones’ (blogs) around in six months, we and our clients, are convinced otherwise. I know the leaders of many other agencies are also racing to understand what this means to corporate reputation, to brands and to the more traditional media that we work with. Given this, you and therefore the Institute seem woefully out of step.
    Three examples for you:
    • Dell’s current corporate image crisis (exploding laptops notwithstanding) has been driven by the blogosphere. Have a look at and tell me that doesn’t change the way a company should approach management of its reputation.
    • The recent stories of John Prescott’s indiscretions hit the mainstream media because of coverage on blogs
    • Microsoft (disclosure; an Edelman client) has seen a transformation in its corporate reputation in recent years, and blogging has been a big contributor to that
    PR practitioners are the natural inhabitants and guides for clients in this new world because what we do is intrinsically about building relationships and understanding through dialogue based on listening. That can be achieved in many cases through the blogosphere and my worry is that prospective clients reading your leader will think that they have to go a non-PR practitioner to understand this. So on this point I believe you are now holding us (the industry) back.
    Kind regards,
    David Brain
    President and CEO, Edelman Europe

  13. Richard Bailey 01/09/2006 at 3:01 pm #

    Thank you: these comments make such an interesting read. Pertinent, funny, absurd (I won’t say which is which). It’s only a pity that Colin Farrington doesn’t read blogs and won’t know what’s being said about him and about our professional institute.

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