Why Corporates Should Listen To Bloggers

By Thomas Murrell MBA, CSP International Business Speaker

At the height of the West Atlas Oil Leak in the Timor Sea there were 7,697 mentions in the Australian press, TV, radio and Internet according to a major media monitoring company in Australia.

When the well was finally blocked and the oil rig caught on fire this story was made for TV with its graphic visual pictures.

Yet, this incident was being analysed in this online newsletter as early as the 26th of August.

Why did it take so long to get traction in mainstream media? Perhaps it was so far away and in a remote location.

The fact is though, corporates like PTTEP Australasia can no longer ignore what is being said online.

Here are three reasons why any business should be monitoring their online reputation and be aware of what is being said about them.

1. First To Report and Analyse

On the Internet, the story is breaking in real time because there are no deadlines.

Companies are able very quickly, sometimes in a matter of minutes, to pick up on what stakeholders are saying.

If there are certain issues, like oil spills, corporates can set up an alert, so that they can be ready to react.

The point of tracking what online stakeholders are saying about issues is to be able to react quickly if something bad happens or learn from the good things people say. Either way, though, companies are learning they have to pay attention.

If a company's not listening, they're not going to pick up what is being said.

Free to use monitoring services such as Technorati, Google Blog Search, Hubsub and Icerocket are a basic starting point.

2. Unfiltered

Blog messages are raw and unfiltered. Untouched by editors and others who may sanitise a message.

Chief-level executives, journalists, thought leaders and influencers in the market are real voices for what people think about an organisation and its people, products and services.

It is a great place for customer intelligence because events are happening very fast. Often bloggers are considered to be people with real strong opinions. So it's a place where people are being really honest about what they think.

Blogs can be a modern replacement for customer satisfaction surveys or focus group reports, which can take months to compile and analyse.

3. Bloggers Can Be Wrong

Take for example this post in my last Media Motivators that was also published in my blog.

"Get together a crisis team and hold a media conference to regularly update stakeholders in an efficient, controlled and timely way.

My research has failed to show any evidence that PTTEP Australasia has held a media conference on the oil spill."

Factually wrong according to the company handling the PR as this email on the 22nd of October indicates from one of my readers.

This response is probably way out of date now, given the escalation of the incident and media hyper interest, but it gives you an idea of the process.

"Tom. interesting article about the PTTEP incident but I think you now need to provide an update to your client base.

We're handling the communications for PTTEP.

Fact 1: Woodside's rig simply was not technically suitable - they needed a jack-up rig instead of a semi-submersible rig which Woodside was offering.

Fact 2: Three full-scale press conferences have been conducted, with daily updates sent to State, national and international media. In fact, 74 media releases have been issued by PTTEP since the incident began on August 21.

Fact 3: Current and up-to-date State, national and international media databases are being used.

I'll look forward to reading the update.


Peter Peter Harris | Managing Director - PPR WA | Professional Public Relations Pty Ltd"

So you can see bloggers get it wrong and its important to provide the facts.

This is a great case study on crisis communications and I hope to interview Peter's colleague, Errol Considine, who has been managing this incident along with a big team from PPR, to provide you with an update, overview and case study of the PTTEP incident for a future podcast when it all settles down.

Contact us if you need to conduct crisis communications training.

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