New poll shows corporate communicators are out to lunch when it comes to blogging

How scary are the results of the new IABC survey on blogging? When asked how best to deal with hostile bloggers, some 300 corporate communicators were split right down the middle as to whether it should be their responsibility or pushed to customer service. Customer service? Talk about one of the great oxymorons in business.

Another significant number of respondents said they just ignore hostile bloggers. Oh brother. Both findings are a recipe for disaster.

As discussed in previous posts, blogging should be the responsibility of corporate communications, since it involves a dialogue with constituents and impacts an organization’s image and reputation (plus, I’d like to think that we are best equipped at establishing a "conversation" between an organization and its constituents).

Passing the buck to a customer service representative is tantamount to dereliction of duty in my book. And, those corporate communicators who choose not to respond at all to hostile bloggers should be locked up in the blogosphere’s version of Gitmo.

When will the PR profession wake up and begin taking digital communications seriously? Too few agencies have blogs and too many corporate communications professionals allow their brethren in marketing or, gulp, customer service, to "own" blogging.

The sooner our ilk "get" that digital communications is here to stay and that engaging in dialogues and establishing relationships with friendly, indifferent or even hostile bloggers is critical to the overall corporate communications program, the sooner we’ll see America’s corporations begin building new and different relationships with current and future customers.

Someone needs to send a big, digital wake-up call to the "pros" who responded to the IABC survey. The job they save may be their own.

9 thoughts on “New poll shows corporate communicators are out to lunch when it comes to blogging

  1. Good points, JenGren. The scary thing is the percentage of corporate communications executives who are willing to either sweep their blogging “problems” under the rug or let another group within the organization deal with unhappy bloggers. I have to believe these are either out-of-touch “older” corp comm types or people who are simply too lazy to do what should be their jobs….

  2. Repman,
    The question this survey asks is confusing. If there is an angry post, both media relations AND customer service should respond or “react.” If the blogger had a bad experience with the company, then customer service should definitely get involved. It shouldn’t just be a sugar coated response from a communications person on the blog. They need to work with customer service to figure out what went wrong and then communicate via the blog on how they are going to fix the problem. The point here is that communications execs should be working with customer service whenever something goes wrong, especially in the digital world (not “blogosphere!”) where the consumer has so much control.

  3. Daaaaaamn! Foote put his in your mouth, I-man.
    For the record, I hate the word “blogosphere.”

  4. Rep, I’m amazed at these numbers and speechless on the customer service thing. Does this mean most of our industry is still handling most of its communication by sending press releases out over a newswire and crossing their fingers? I just can’t believe we’re that unsophisticated. Would love to see IABC dissect the data a bit more in terms of job responsibilities, geography, industry, etc.

  5. Isaac, do your homework my friend. Conversations about brands have always been around, but with blogging, it’s much more immediate, far reaching, and often times visual. Information, gossip, and trends spread like wildfire in the blogosphere. Sure, sometimes it’s worthless ranting and bickering, but other times it’s classified information, secrets, or damaging claims that can tarnish a brand’s reputation in a matter of seconds. Dell (Dell Hell) and Kryponite are classic examples. It’s the interactive, participatory nature of blogging that makes it so powerful. It’s giving consumers, who previously had limited feedback channels (letter to company/editor, calling customer service, etc), the power to make their voice heard to a large audience. In addition, it enables them to easily locate others with similar views and experiences, thus increasing WOM and the ability for information to snowball. The end result? The consumer is king. People are increasingly turning to social media (blogs, forums, social networking sites) to share information and make purchasing decisions. They don’t have to visit company web sites, read reviews from mainstream media, or pour through a bunch of BS marketing collateral. Decisions and opinions are being shaped through online discussions, consumer reviews, etc. And, these discussions are permantely archived (Google is god) for the world to see. Get it?

  6. I-man, time will tell who is right. Re: the importance of blogging, ask Dan Rather, the CEO of Raytheon or the author of “A million little pieces” whether blogging had any impact on their lives or careers. You are so wrong that it makes me wince just to read your ramblings…

  7. come on rep. blogging, while it might make for an interesting read, will never be viewed as anything remotely important to most and this survey proves it. blogging has been around for several years already, and while it is popular, is still so unimportant. there are millions of blogs out there on topics from who is screwing who to north korea. all is a blog is is someone’s diary and thoughts online. so while i may come to someone’s blog to read their opinion on kim jung il or to read the latest ken lay conspiracy, doesn’t mean that blog is of any importance.
    most people read blogs for their entertainment value- nothing more. and to prove that, take a look at the hundreds of millions of blogs out there. if there were a million dailies across the US printed by every joe blow and his cousin, would anyone give them credibility- NO! papers like the NYT, WSJ, FT etc get their credibilty and readership b/c of the writers and content. i could start a blog tomorrow on medical supply sales and people would read it…doesn’t mean they put any credibility in it.
    give it a few years and blogs will go away and the next digital fad will evolve. this survey correctly shows that even corp. comm people don’t put much credibility into blogs- what does that tell you?

  8. I-man, the genie is out of the bottle and will never go back in. Digital technology has enabled and empowered consumers and citizen journalists in totally new ways. New ways that are already disintermediating the way we make decisions, access information and communicate with one another. Those of you who ignore or dismiss blogging do so at your own peril. Hey I-man, did any of your ancestors happen to work as lookouts on the Titanic? Wonder if they saw that big iceberg as the 1912 version of the chia pet?

  9. rep-
    maybe these guys aren’t so wrong as you want to think. maybe many others just don’t think that blogging or the citizen journalist are so important in the grand scheme of things, which is why they put it under customer service. i personally see blogging as this decade’s chia pet…sure its cool and popular, but thats about all.