Public relations and the bloggers’ brunch

The first ever Bloggers’ Brunch for automotive public relations practitioners took place earlier today, hosted at in London.  Billed as helping those who didn’t know a bacon roll from a blog-roll, it aimed to cover the basics of blogging.

We had some great input from Matt Saunders (editor of online), Iain Reid (editor of ) and Tristan Young ( editor).  It was interesting to see how their auto-websites are using the technology of blogging in different ways:

  • Autocar has set up  with blogs from its team of respected journalists as well as those from readers.  This aims to build a community hub of loyal readers.
  • What Car? isn’t blogging – but has user generated content in its which, although moderated, provide owner perspectives that support the site’s expert road-tests, group tests and video reviews.
  • The blogs on Business Car include one from the office alongside views from some leading figures whose opinions will interest readers.  Tristan demonstrated the effect of blogging with a simple search – which I think surprised a few of those who hadn’t realised the power of regular updates.
    Another surprise (for me as well) was Matt’s statement that 50% of the news leads his team use come from industry-focused blogs such as  
    We were fortunate also to have the expertise of  and  – who provided some of the context and bloggers’ perspectives.  I think that Ellee’s list of the opportunities that have come her way in the 14 months since she began blogging was revealing to those who feel this is a fringe activity, not a mainstream influence.
    Geoff showed some interesting data  that compared a couple of automotive brands in terms of whether they are being talked about in blogosphere. 
    This highlights the importance of ensuring your organisation is , primed for word of mouth with great
    There was very lively discussion during our breaks and break-out sessions.  We did cover a lot of angles – monitoring blogosphere, ethical issues, getting to know bloggers, and whether corporates should blog or have dedicated blogging departments. 
    I hope that a few of the self-confessed “blogging virgins” feel a bit more informed as a result of hearing the views of our expert guests – and I plan to build on this initial event with a second soon.
    We will certainly revisit the issue of corporate blogs – which of course,  addresses.  I’m not advocating that everyone in the car industry rushes off and starts blogging – but it would be interesting to explore some case studies of companies who have. 
    I know this was something that  was researching.  Unfortunately he couldn’t be with us owing to a family crisis – but kindly prepared some useful .   I hope he will be able to share his wisdom next time.
    If you have stopped by this blog having attended the event today – please let take a moment to comment, and give your thoughts on what you’d like to see in a follow up.

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

12 thoughts on “Public relations and the bloggers’ brunch”

  1. Heather, Thank you for inviting me, I always enjoy talking about the powerful impact blogging can have, let’s hope we have a few converts from your event. I can understand why many people there said they would find it is difficult to blog for a major corporation. But I don’t think it is a case of if they do, but when, that it is something they will not be able to avoid for ever. Also, it was a superb venue.

  2. Thank you Heather I found the Blogger’s Brunch particularly useful – this is my first blog and hopefully it will be the start of many more! I have to admit I initally thought that blogging was not something I would have time for and did not see the use for me to get involved in doing it myself. However, I do now realise how powerful and influencial this circulation of opinion can be, my eyes have certainly been opened and I understand now that blogging is becoming an important source of shared information.

    In our particular discussion group, which we seperated into on Tuesday morning, questions were raised about the practicalities of corporate blogs. I think the main concern was being able to create an interactive forum where responses and comments from the company could be immediately posted for any questions or debates raised within the blogs. Many suggested this could be a problem and might be seen negatively if there was a delay in getting the right response from the right executive. The process could be quite time consuming which may cause for a dedicated team.

    However, we did agree upon the value of having corporate blogs – as Ellee said in her talk, it allows the company to appear transparent and willing to enguage openly with people. I also agree with Ellee when she said its something we can not avoid forever, blogging inevitably is something we’ll all have to embrace soon!

    Regarding a follow up, I think it might be useful to address how to approach bloggers from a PR professional’s perspective. Should it be the same approach as we would a journalist?

    Thanks to Heather, Ellee, Geoff, Matt, Iain and Tristan for their valuable insights!

  3. Thanks for your views Kate. The management of corporate blogs is an interesting area, and as we saw with the auto-websites, I am sure there are lots of different approaches that can be taken.

    Good thoughts on looking at how to engage with bloggers – there are some similarities with journalists, but some differences as well as a recent Microsoft example showed, when bloggers posted negatively about being “given” laptops on which to evaluate Vista.

    I plan to follow up on the Meet the Online Media that was a successful MIPAA event last year – so will look at the blogger perspective in that too.

  4. I like the little book of blogging. A couple of the mesages in it could be put across to students on a monthly basis to get more of them “hooked” on this marvelous method of interacton. It wouldn’t be toxic commuications (reminds me of a campaign I contributed to that delivered email dos and don’ts to internal staff re email etiquette etc.)

  5. A really interesting post and discussion in the comments that I’m sure reflects the quality of the event itself.

    I’m really gutted I missed the event and having the opportunity to meet delegates/speakers.

    If there’s another opportunity in the future, I’d be delighted to be involved.

    sw

  6. Hi Heather,

    It was really interesting to see what some of the magazines are doing in setting up community, social sites which support their formal websites and to hear about how they manage issues like moderating comments. I’m also very appreciative of your feedback on our ukdrivetime blog.

    As the venue had internet access, next time why not pick on another virgin and make getting them set up on blogger, flickr et al one of the sessions? I’ve seen it done elsewhere and it’s a great way to convey how easy it is to get started.

    Sheila

  7. Thanks Sheila – I agree that another session that is more practical would be good. I think as an introductory workshop there were so many aspects that we covered this time – and the manufacturer perspective would probably be better considered in a “corporate blogging” session, whereas those who perhaps are more readily able to get involved such as yourselves and those in consultancies would appreciate workshops on getting started, integrating different social media, evaluation and so on.

    Plenty for us to develop though.

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