PR Business: How small blogs bring big changes

Thursday’s PR Business magazine had a full page on next Friday’s Delivering the New PR Conference (PDF flyer) in London where I’m one of the speakers. PR Business doesn’t yet have a website so I’ve copied the story below:

How small blogs bring big changes

sundnewprteam.jpgWeblogs are having a significant impact on the way organisations communicate but many of the biggest successes are outside the public view, according to experts who will speak in London next month.

Although some use weblogs to reach a broad market, the most significant impact is on how organisations speak to niche, often internal, audiences, argues Stuart Bruce, one of six speakers at the University of Sunderland’s Delivering the New PR conference on May 12.

Bruce, a partner in Leeds-based BMA PR and a high profile PR blogger, lists two major finance companies, a police force and a publisher among examples of organisations using weblogs to break new ground in internal communications.

He said: "It is a year since the cover story of BusinessWeek claimed ‘blogs will change your business’ and put blogging on the boardroom agenda. But if they are being honest, some of the early champions were finding it difficult to find UK examples where blogs were making a difference.

"Now all that is changing, and much of the change is coming as people realise the power of blogs to improve and stimulate communications with specialist and niche audiences."

And Philip Young, senior lecturer in Public Relations at the University of Sunderland and a lead researcher in the EuroBlog 2006 survey which tracks the impact of blogs on PR practice in 33 countries, agrees: "With experience people are realising that blogs are different than ordinary websites, which are often little more than static noticeboards. A good blog encourages dialogue, and it thrives on personal insights and a natural tone of  voice.

"Crucially, a blog need only have a relatively small readership to make a difference and the quick, cheap and easy blog format provides a new way of networking. Many of the high profile blogs featured in newspapers are little different than any other page on a website; the ones that are shaping businesses thrive of links, comments and interactivity, all things which work better in a small circle of like-minded people. Tom Murphy, Paris-based social networking expert Elizabeth Albrycht, and podcast specialist Neville Hobson. With American partner Shel Holtz, Hobson produces the twice-weekly For Immediate Release podcast, regarded as the most influential voice on new PR issues.

Bruce added: "Many of the best uses of professional blogs aren’t trying to reach mass consumer audiences but are conversations with specific groups of stakeholders such as a bank’s chief executive having a direct conversation with thousands of employees or a neighbourhood police office talking with the local community."

Other speakers at Delivering the New PR include blog pioneer and Microsoft Ireland PR

University of Sunderland head of journalism and PR Chris Rushton will present new research about how changes in technology and practice in both newsrooms and PR offices have changed the way news releases are handled and decisions about whether to use them are made. He will provide specific tips on how to take advantage of these changes to increase a PRO’s hit rate.

Young said: "EuroBlog 2006 painted a picture of a two-speed Europe, with one in three practitioners already seeing benefits from blogs, podcasts and other social softwares, but with a similar number not seeing a relevance to them or their clients.

"The high level of interest in Delivering the New PR is just one more sign that practitioners, from blue chips to charities and community groups are beginning to see past the hype and find ways of harnessing the new technologies in a way that makes a real difference to their work."

Delivering the New PR
How Blogs, Podcasts and RSS Can Work for You

Venue: London Marriott Hotel, Regents Park
Date: Friday 12 May 2006
Times: 10am – 4pm

Delegate tickets £175 + VAT for CIPR members, £195 + VAT for non members. To book please contact Nicky Wake at Don’t Panic Projects Ltd on 01706 828855, e-mail nicky@dontpanicprojects.com or book on line at http://www.dontpanicprojects.com/booking.htm

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