Given the CPS report on the importance of bloggers who have a significant share of the online readership and so assumed influence, and the fact that many PR agencies are seriously considering how to harness the power of the blogosphere, or sometimes counter and neutralise online criticism, Mark Hanson's article in PR Week is highly prescient. As media officer for LabourHome as well as a partner in Staniforth, Hanson is perfectly placed to consider these questions from a political perspective and offers the following advise on how to reach the bloggers who are influential.
Firstly parties need to trawl for hits of key phrases to check where the issues are being discussed; second assess the importance of each site in terms of the quality and relevance of the content and the amount of readers in order to discover where the potential audience is; this will represent a network in which there are the influentials and the long tail of readers who may contribute comments or simply lurk on the edge of the network [the theory is that 1 issue will picked up by 9 bloggers which will then influence a further 90 individuals as pictured below by Chris Anderson]; once identified the network is assessed to see how the party/candidate can use it; finally getting the network onside.
Advocacy and word-of-mouth promotion is a powerful tool of PR. If certain bloggers are influential and can promote a party, its leader, policies and initiate viral campaigns such as the one for Mark McDonald to be party treasurer, then it could be a kind of endorsement that could have an effect. Key for Hanson is that parties and candidates recognise that there are new ways to interact with the public/electorate (speak and listen to in his words), PR agencies have picked up on this Hanson suggests parties need to do likewise.
P.S. on a completely different not, is anyone else puzzled that blog, blogger and associated phrases are not in the 'blogger' dictionary?