Throughout the history of corporate communications, companies have been the ones setting their agendas. With social media, the traditional top-down process of communication has been turned upside-down. No more gatekeepers of information. We have seen so much unfiltered, unmessaged, and spontaneous information coming directly from the people that actually run these large corporations that it’s blogging our minds.
With blogosphere flourishing, users are able to read, comment, and vote on how they feel on any topic of interest. People are more in control of company or organization openness than ever before. Tom Kelleher, author of the book Public Relations Online, says that more people are “joining the party” because it’s so easy. Blogging has truly paved to the way for businesses and people to be transparent and authentic when communicating online.
In a study of people’s perceptions of Microsoft Developers Network (MSDN) blogging community, Barbara Miller and Tom Kelleher found that the authentic individual-style communication frequently is used in blogging. This worked for MSDN resulting in building trust, satisfaction, and commitment. Bloggers use what Barbara Miller calls a “conversational human voice“. Only conversational human voice was noticeable higher in the blog condition than in the non-blog condition, which highlights the unique value of organizational blogs to online public relations. Blogs are computer-mediated context for conveying a “human voice” of openness, commitment, and positivity.
Karen Miller Russell’s Weblogs in Public Relations Education summarizes that even though 70% of blogs operate as private journals, social media can foster participation, openness, conversation, community, and connectivity. When users begin to participation in topics of interest, blogs can make anyone a content producer. The connectivity of blogs increases the information-sharing process by linking more content to others blogs or sites. Trust and credibility are established more and more with every linked source within a post. Communities build around shared interests and communication is expected to be transparent and authentic.
We expect a blogger to be honest. We should view bloggers as if they were journalists and follow a code of ethics. For example, that after an item is posted it should never be deleted (except for editing corrections), and a public relations person should always reveal the connection to a client or employer when posting or commenting on a blog. Blogs have created a breeding ground for truth and conversation. Now individuals, corporations, and organizations have to participate, honestly. And if they don’t, we can only assume that they are hiding something.