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Bloggers' Presence Makes Firms Alter Media Policies

September 4, 2009
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With the rapid maturation of the blogosphere as a source of information, organizations have broadened their definition of what “media” is. In most cases, that includes bloggers.

Out of 300 media contacts in online job aggregator Indeed.com’s database, about half are HR bloggers, says director of communications Sophie Beaurpere.

Traditional media isn’t always available to tech companies when they have news, and for reasons of competition and immediacy, companies often turn to bloggers, says Indeed.com CEO Paul Forster.

“The blogosphere is more accessible,” says Forster, adding that bloggers were the first to cover his company in 2004. “You see more traditional media giving attribution to bloggers. The days when blogs are not considered proper media have passed.”

Simply Hired has a similar attitude toward bloggers, says Katya White, senior marketing communications manager for the Silicon Valley-based online job aggregator.

“The number of bloggers we respond to in a week is double the number of traditional media. They’re looking for more timely information,” White says. “Blogs are dependent on content at that moment in time.”

Chicago-based job board CareerBuilder places equal importance on traditional reporters and bloggers.

“We work with anyone for media requests,” says Jason Ferrara, vice president of corporate marketing at CareerBuilder. “Our policy is, we need to represent the company everywhere we go. We don’t have a policy beyond that.”

Yet a company’s response to a misinformed or outright inaccurate blog post can vary. Some companies brush off bloggers’ posts and critiques.

“The blogs are more personal and opinion-heavy,” White says. “When they’re critical, you take it with a grain of salt. They don’t have checks and balances like traditional journalists. I think bloggers have biases. I’d say some prefer one company over another.”

Chris Merritt, vice president and general manager of Yahoo HotJobs, believes a company needs to take an active role in what’s being said.

“You need to get engaged. We want to reach out to those around the recruiting space,” Merritt says. Still, he adds, there’s a lot rumor and speculation among the bloggers.

And in those cases, Merritt says, “We don’t respond; our policy is to not comment.”

Ferrara says CareerBuilder will respond to certain issues through a corporate blog. It has a blog focused on sharing information to corporate clients, dubbed The Hiring Site.

“We’ve not done damage control when we see something negative or incorrect,” Ferrara says. “We don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on that. There will always be negative and positive stuff written about us.”

Yet once inaccurate information is posted, no matter how much damage control or spin a company might perform, bloggers often will take information from one another without fact-checking the previous post, White says.

“If it’s posted somewhere, another blogger will pick it up and not check the accuracy,” White says. “They’ll fill content by repurposing posts and feeding off each other.”

Providing access to company information is pushing PR and marketing professionals to try nontraditional methods, Ferrara says. Twitter, he says, is the next piece. And a challenging one.

“How do you build a brand at 140 characters?” he asks.

Recent Articles by Rick Bell

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