Embracing new media

I find an fun symmetry between this post by Josh Hallett, where he calls companies who visit blogs but don’t contact the bloggers “prank callers” and Robert Scoble’s taking Google to task for going to the New York Times to announce their Google Apps project.

Josh expresses the frustration (something I’ve had myself) of bloggers who are writing about a specific company or industry but who aren’t being contacted by people at the company or in that industry. The frustration doubles when you see visitor traffic from a company you’ve talked about in your stats. And he (and I) is not just talking about the occasional accidental Google search that brings someone around your place. We’re talking about concentrated hits, all coming from one company. It’s great that they’re monitoring, but now is the time for engagement. Bloggers have the potential to do a great deal of good and a great deal of harm. But having dropped someone a line every now and again can do wonders. Damage can be mitigated – or at least you can get your point of view across – if you, as a company representative, have made yourself available as a resource for a blogger.

Then there’s the story of Google Apps, which was announced in the New York Times and other mainstream, old-media outlets. Scoble lists the number of search industry and tech bloggers that would seem like no-brainers to include on a media list for a launch like this by Google. Almost none of them were given any sort of heads-up or asked to take part in the announcement. The sole exception was Om Malik, who passed on the offer because of the embargo requirement.

So why did Google go to the MSM over bloggers? There’s lots of speculation and I’m not going to engage in that. But those bloggers are the “influentials” that a company – in this case Google – needs to be keeping tabs on and accommodating. Eric Eggerton is even outright asking if it’s better to leak to bloggers and let an announcement build until it penetrates the MSM instead of going big and then seeing if a conversation follows.

If you work for a major company have you identified your base of influentials?

BONUS READING: PR people love them some blogs but don’t know quite how to use them for their benefit just yet. Most companies, though, still have no idea what RSS is.