Public Relations: Make sure you monitor bloggers posting about your university

August 8th, 2005 Karine Joly 5 Comments

Does your PR office think blogs are just a fad? Does your media relations specialist thinks s/he can just ignore interview requests from bloggers?

Well, you might want to let your PR people know that some bloggers can be as dangerous as reporters — and should be treated with the utmost care.

Obviously, I’m not talking about the 16-year-old girl who maintains a blog to stay in touch with her friends, but about the (semi-)professional blogger who reports or comments news about a specific niche or locale.

Don’t believe me? Keep reading:

In her recent article, “Hoffman denounces blogs,” Jennifer Brown from The Denver Post reports that former University of Colorado president Betsy Hoffman “said she wished she would have assigned one of her staffers to read political blogs every day, as she does now.”

“Hoffman resigned in March amid scandals involving the school’s football recruiting program and professor Ward Churchill’s essay comparing some victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to a Nazi official. […]

One of the first mentions of Churchill’s essay appeared on a blog called “little green footballs” after the professor was invited to speak at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. Within 10 minutes, people were calling Gov. Bill Owens and asking him to tell Hoffman to fire Churchill, she said. “

Some of these bloggers are read (even monitored via their RSS feeds) by traditional media’s journalists looking for news story ideas as confirmed in the Eleventh Annual Euro RSCG Magnet and Columbia University Survey of the Media published earlier this summer:

“(The) study shows that more than half (51%) of journalists use Weblogs regularly—with 28% relying on them for day-to-day reporting […]

Indeed, 70% of journalists who use blogs do so for work-related tasks. Most often, those work-related tasks involve finding story ideas, with 53% of journalist respondents reporting using blogs for such purposes. But respondents also turn to blogs for other uses, including researching and referencing facts (43%) and finding sources (36%). Most notable, fully 33% of journalists say they use blogs as a way of uncovering breaking news or scandals.

That’s why it’s definitely a good idea to monitor what bloggers write about your institution. If/when you get a call from a reporter about a story reported in a blog, you will at least know as much as he does.

So, how do you monitor the blog buzz?

Just set up a few watchlists on relevant keywords (the name of your college/university, the name of your president, etc.) on Technorati.

Easy enough, isn’t it?

5 Responses

  1. Tiffany says:

    This reminds me of this article in The Chronicle on how blogs can hurt job prospects in academia.

  2. Karine says:

    You’re right, Tiffany. What’s true for an institution is true for an individual.
    This specific article from The Chronicle actually generated a fair number of posts in the higher ed blogosphere.

  3. Scanning the Blogs for References to Your Institution
    I couldn’t agree more with Karine’s suggestion about the good practice of scanning the blogosphere for references to your institution. Part of my daily routine involves checking Technorati alerts for keywords relating to my company, Thoms…

  4. Templatedata says:

    What are they saying?
    A very simple but effective idea for keeping an eye on what is being said about your institution on blogs from collegewebeditor. Simply set up some technorati tag watchlists on some key phrases and subscribe to them in your favoured

  5. :: Great Site/Blog is a site worth your time. Karine Joly has been “working as a Web Editor for a small US College since 2002. I also have my own Web business.” Her blog is a very neat niche topic area, yet offers her many issues to writ…

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