The only thing we have to fear is fear itself

We’ve just conducted a first-of-its-kind survey comparing and contrasting blogging in the U.S. and U.K. I was really hoping there would be some big gaps separating our two countries but, surprisingly, nada. That said, there does seem to be a near universal "fear" of becoming fully engaged in blogging that holds true for both Brits and Yanks.

Eighty-five percent of executives from both countries believe blogs are an important communication tool, a fact that doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Despite the overwhelming amount of responses that claim blogs are credible and valuable communications tools, most respondents admit that they (or their clients) do not have an official company blogging policy (U.S.: 87 percent, U.K.: 82 percent). And only 37 percent in the U.S. and 36 percent in the U.K. are actually blogging on behalf of their company or client.

The public relations industry is beautifully positioned to capitalize on the growth and importance of what is being called Web 2.0. So why the disparity? I think it can all be summed up by the word "fear." PR pros need to understand that digital is a natural extension of other integrated marketing components and shouldn’t be feared because of the perceived "loss of control" or "rejection" by senior management if it should backfire.

You could almost compare this to the fears and anxieties that people who suffer from obesity, fear of flying, or quitting smoking deal with. They’re so caught up with achieving the goal (i.e. weight loss or, in PR’s case, pleasing the internal or external client) that they never focus on identifying the obstacles standing in the way of their goal. For instance, with weight loss, it might be committing to a daily exercise program. With digital, it might be taking the time to experiment and understand the landscape in a safe, protected environment. This "fear of fear" may just want be what is holding PR back from stepping up to the plate in the digital playing field.

Everyone from web designers to advertisers is trying to stake their claim in this new digital landscape. PR touts itself as being the marketing function that understands the business of our clients business. We’ve realized the importance of this new medium, now it’s time to swallow our fear and take ownership of it by integrating it into our service offerings and overall communications strategies.

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