Blogging workshop & Anonymous Blogging
Yesterday I did my first "To Blog or Not to Blog" workshop for a PR agency in NYC. It went quite well from all reports (whew!). The workshop is about 3-3.5 hours long, and basically covers Blogging 101 and how blogs and new media fit into the marketing communications plan.
What I'd like to do is convert this into an ongoing product, and the idea I have is a full day workshop, with the first half of the day devoted to Blogging 101, for up to 15 students, and the second part of the day (one or two) two-hour hands-on workshop(s) for no more than 5-6 students to actually go through the exercise of evaluating a blog as part of the specific MarCom plan for a company, and then developing the mission and plan for the blog. In effect, teaching my students how to fish.
I think this would be very useful for mid-size companies and PR/marketing agencies who want to get into blogging, but just don't know where to start. I would love your feedback on the idea, and referrals of interested companies would be even better :-)
Okay. Shameless self promotion period is now over.
My next topic is anonymous blogs. During yesterday's workshop, one of the students asked about the credibility of anonymous blogs. Basically, she asked, how can an anonymous blog be a credible source of information?
The answer to this truly has multiple layers. It is of course the reader who makes a determination about credibilty, and that's true whether the blog is anonymous or not.
Am I going to trust the content of the blog?
We make this determination based in part on "how right" the blogger we are reading has been in the past. We also factor in the nature of the information -- how critical is it that our information be 100 percent correct. Finally, we look for endorsements -- other bloggers we know and trust, trusting this blogger. These things ALL factor into our trust equation whether the blog writer is identified or not.
But is there a difference with anonymous blogs? I think the answer is a resounding YES! If a blog is anonymous, we need additional validation that it is okay to trust this blog. The more critical the issue, the more validation we need. In fact, for some really high stakes issues like our health, there may never be enough validation to trust an anonymous blog. When someone is giving you health advice, you need some solid indices that it is okay to trust them.
Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson have been discussing the issue of anonymous blogs on the last few issues of For Immediate Release -- their comments are well worth listening to.
My take? The nature of the content really dictates whether you will trust an anonymous blogger. If the issue is fairly trivial, like what shoes should I buy for the fall, the fact that Manolo the Shoe Blogger is both anonymous and a character doesn't matter. I just like that Zappos usually gives you expedited shipping even when you order ground.
If the issue at hand is critical, and you are looking for validation, assistance, data to inform your decision, I truly do not believe an anonymous blog can generate adequate trust. You need to know WHO, and I'm not sure if even the sponsorship of a valued, trusted organization is enough to extend that trust to an anonymous blogger for a high stakes decision.
By all means, blog anonymously if you want to share your life and experiences. There are many valid and important reasons why people might want to blog anonymously
But, if you want you opinion to really matter -- if you believe that your opinion on an issue mght make a difference, you really need to step up to the plate and stand for your opinion.
People will want to know who you are.
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