I carry the Blogpower logo on this site because when I started blogging, I found it an interesting way to connect with a variety of fellow “small bloggers”. This is highlighted by a Blogpower Roundup by Ian_QT which picks out a range posts from the network in the past week.
It takes a lot of time and effort to pull together such a roundup, but this is the spirit of blogging in respect of helping others manage their time online, giving greater opportunity for bloggers to gain new readers, and connecting different topics and thoughts on a topic.
Many of these blogs will have a particular viewpoint, and you may not agree with them all, especially those with a specific political perspective. But, with blogs you have the opportunity to leave your own thoughts and engage with the author – or use your own blog to present a counter argument.
We do need to be careful to distinguish fact from opinion – but that isn’t an exclusive criticism of blogs as it applies to mainstream media too. Indeed, we increasingly need to challenge anyone citing a fact as to whether it is objective or has been carefully selected to make a point. The PR survey being responsible for too many statistics that are widely cited by have questionable methodology.
Not all blogs are well written, but that doesn’t mean the authors haven’t a valid point – or indeed, those that are well written may just be enjoyed for the way words are crafted.
Whether blogs are the future of public communication or not, they do enable us to reflect on various issues, challenge or confirm our own opinions, gain new insight, possibly learn something we didn’t previously, or think about someone else’s life and times.
Of course, they can suck up a lot of time, be polemics and often inaccurate. If you are the PR person for a brand being criticised, you can feel bloggers have an unfair advantage – but you do have the opportunity to know what is being said and engage with the discussion as appropriate.
What bloggers are saying is often a snapshot of discussion taking place in homes, pubs, workplaces and a myriad of other real life situations. As such, they may be important or not, influential or not, accurate or not, indicative or not. But as with the Blogpower roundup, they give us a window on what is being said and thought, by a particular person or group at any one time.
From a PR perspective, that sounds like a useful information-gathering tool to me, if nothing else.