Harvard Business Review Calls Blogs a Breakthrough Idea for 2005

    March 3, 2005

The February issue of Harvard Business Review, available only for sale online, lists the breakthrough ideas for 2005.

One of them, number 10, is business blogging. This is a huge endorsement for business blogging. Just listen to what Mohabir Sawhney, Tribune Professor of Technology and Director, Center for Research in Technology and Innovation, Kellogg School of Management, writes in the article. Here are some excerpts

“The ‘blogosphere’ – a grassroots ecosystem comprising of millions of weblogs – is decentralized and ungoverned. But like traditional media (and unlike most personal web sites), it is gaining the power to influence what people think, do, and buy. The blogosphere has begun to develop its own rating schemes, ratings leaders, business models, and brand-name celebrities. As the blogosphere takes its place among entertainment and information channels, companies must devise strategies for marketing in and around it.”

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“Marketers will naturally want their messages promoted on influential blogs and protected from critical ones. But they will find it difficult to navigate this complex blend of advertising, content, dialogue, and public relations.”

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“Corporate marketers must deal with bloggers differently from the way they deal with traditional media. First, they must realize that the blogosphere is not just a place in which to advertise; it is a medium in which to participate. Marketers can join the conversation on influential blogs related to their products or companies – or even better, they can become bloggers in their own right by hosting blogs for customers. Most radically, they can host independent bloggers on their Web sites, essentially trading exposure for reach and credibility.

Second, companies must try to cultivate bloggers rather than control them. Instead of making ham-handed efforts to influence bloggers, marketers should attempt to win them over by sharing information openly with those who write about their companies and by responding to the issues that are raised, even – especially – if they are negative.

Third, the blogosphere is fluid and ever changing. Ad buys will become more dynamic, as new technologies and modified contract terms let marketers shift rapidly from blog to blog in pursuit of customers’ fickle attention.”

When I read this my heart pounded. It is consistent with our entire philosophy at CooperKatz of find, listen, engage and empower. When the Harvard Business Review starts praising blogging strategies, you know it’s time to start planning. What’s your plan? Are you on board the Cluetrain?

Steve Rubel is a PR strategist with nearly 16 years of public relations, marketing, journalism and communications experience. He currently serves as a Senior Vice President with Edelman, the largest independent global PR firm.

He authors the Micro Persuasion weblog, which tracks how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the public relations practice.