I'm preparing some questions for next week's panel discussion on listening to social media, when up pops a Kent State/BurrellesLuce survey that finds 72% of PR professionals have no formal system for monitoring blogs (via Ed Lee). Even after the mainstream media coverage of blogs and online influence? Looks like we need to get more people on the learning curve.
Students of PR are learning about social media in class, but the old dogs seem to be taking a wait-and-see attitude. Maybe they assume that it's safe to ignore bloggers, but what's really happening is that the 72% who aren't monitoring blogs aren't aware of what's being said about them and their clients. In effect, they're betting that nothing important will happen there.
The marketing/blogging crowd knows the stories and has even grown tired of the usual examples, but too many practitioners haven't learned them. You can't influence what you don't know about, but it can grow into something you can't ignore. Interesting stories in social media have a way of generating traditional media crises, and PR in the 21st century has to learn the modern ways.
Kent State professors Bill Sledzik and Jeanette Drake will present their study on how PR agencies track and use blogs at the International Public Relations Conference next month. I'm looking forward to the answers to their follow-up questions.