Blogging has become an indispensable way for businesses to gain and maintain visibility among their publics on the Web. The latest evidence comes in Online Marketing Blog's survey results on the impact of blogging on an organization's search engine prominence. Blogs help build your ranking on Google; it's that "simple."
Lee Odden, who conducted the Online Marketing survey, reports 95 percent of the respondents indicated they incorporate blogs as part of their search engine optimization efforts, and 87.4 percent of respondents "successfully increased measurable SEO objectives as a direct result of blogging."
From the 12.6 percent who aren't getting great SEO results from blogs, the key reasons seem to be that blogs are challenging to set up and maintain, not that they're not effective.
Here we have a major opportunity for expanding the role of PR practitioners. Blogs are basically marketing tools, but their contents -- creating them and responding to comments -- would seem to be PR functions. After all, the only difference is that an organization presents itself on the Web, not to the "old" media.
The thing about blogs, though, is that once they get going they tend to multiply, partly because they're fun and satisfying to produce.
One Fortune 200 commenter on Odden's survey advises that her company now has "a few dozen bloggers (and hundreds of micro-bloggers)." In fact, the marketing department now holds blogger "pre-briefings" on upcoming important announcements.
But why the marketing department alone? Shepherding a company's image and presence in information realms is a PR function.
Many of the bloggers, the comment continues, "have become well-rounded, unofficial spokespeople -- who respect PR/marketing as the ultimate voice and mediator, when necessary, on what is appropriate or inappropriate to share in the public. Many have become top-ranked bloggers in our industry -- adding a dimension that, I believe, the PR or marketing group could never have done purely on its own."
Okay, even if PR is becoming a "crowded" function -- as in crowdsourcing -- somebody needs to coordinate the image-building effort, and that's a PR role.