Posted by Amanda Chapel
Survey Points to Credibility and Ethical Challenges
NEW YORK – According to the finding of a survey conducted by Dow Jones & Company and the world's largest PR trade association PRSA, professional communicators strongly believe that Web 2.0 tools, such as blogs and social networking sites, present critical credibility and ethical challenges.
The survey was conducted to explore how members of PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) and its student organization, PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America), view the role of these technologies in shaping current and future communication practices. The survey, conducted in the last quarter of '06 and the first quarter of '07, was a random sample of both organizations’ membership.
- A majority of respondents in both groups are concerned about the credibility of information being generated by new media sources. Respondents placed the greatest amount of trust in traditional media and its Web counterparts such as online newspapers.
- Good to see both groups understand that the instantaneousness of the "World Wild West" has the potential for severe reputational harm. As they say, a rumor can travel half-way around the world before the truth can get its shoes on.
Just how much critical credibility and ethical challenge can the PR business take?
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What is this "ethical PR" you speak of? I am unfamiliar with such a term.
The question of dubious and varying levels of credibility aside, the Pandora Box is open. If people are already have a "conversation" about you or your client, it's ludicrous to try and ignore it.
I am sorry but you're wrong. We are centainly not ignoring anything.
1) The world has always been full of conversation. Credibility is the key. Now to say that what we are doing here has ANY value compared to the NYT, that's what's ludicrous. What we are learning very quickly is to differentiate on the Net. And trust me, if/when we don't learn it, companies or society will legislate it.
2) There've been numerous "Pandora's Boxes" we've opened in history. We've also learned how to close them.
I'm not saying give up on the NYT. What I'm saying is don't ignore the blogs. You're right, people are learning to differentiate, and even though some publishers use a blog platform to publish their content, that doesn't mean that they're less credible.
The fact of the matter is that Google is the new front page. Fifth estate coverage might resound well for a few months, but when people want to look you up, they are going to run a search on you, and whatever is on the first page of the SERPs is going to make an impression on them. It just so happens that search engines really like blogs, so if a so-called A-listers drops you name one day, chances are that that A-lister is going to show up on the first page of a Google search for you name.
No CT. The Web is NOT a standardized authoritative system. It is a populace machine. People poop. Subjectivity is crap. Listen: would you drink a glass of water from the baby pool?
Bottom line: the more crap in the system, the less reputable your Google frontpage.
So what are we going to do in 1p years? Gen X and younger, who don't read the NYT, think local TV is largely a punchline and feel Google is momma's teat, will be in the driver's seats soon enough.
I feel like I agree with your/our assessments for right now, this specific instance. But more and more it sounds like someone slapping their hands around in a pool. It's assuming that an awful lot doesn't change. Young Gen X'ers are very scary with their total detachment from non-2.0 sources.
And what happens when the media get's their "conversation" from the web? Just look at last night's debate...
I still can't shake that the average user takes the first page of SERPs as a RELATIVELY objective indicator of what info is relevant and what is not. It's in that vain that you can't ignore the new media. No matter how few credentials or standards a publisher has, if they're showing up on the first page of Google for YOUR name, users are going to take that as a cue, so it matters what they are saying.
Besides, just think about how journalists Google their subjects during research. The info that does and doesn't show up there can make all the difference when it comes to some positive or negative spin.
Social media and blogs are great ways to boost traffic to your corporate Web site and there are many useful blogs that provide expert opinion on any given subject matter, but I'm still a firm believer in pushing stories to traditional media to register the greatest impact on the consumer.
Driving perception through traditional media is still the best way to reach and positively impact a mass audience.
I think blogging and interaction with social media should supplement traditional media relations efforts to reach the broadest audience possible with your messaging.
From my beach chair in Sarasota,
Matt Gentile (FloridaMoves.com - Over 375,000 Homes in the Sun)
I couldn't agree with you more about using web 2.0 channels to supplement conventional media sources. What I think is interesting is that just like the average user finds out things about you on the first page of Google, so are journalist. So when an A-lister shows up on that first page, s/he may very likely be affecting what the fifth estate is saying about you.
THAT is a reason to not ignore the new media.