‘Twitter is like a calling card. Facebook is like a phone call. Blogging is like a full-fledged conversation!’
The above comment was written by a blog reader in response to one of Deb Pilgrim’s blogs. While it may not be academic in its origins, or based on any hard research, in my opinion this anecdotal observation is perhaps one of the most effective ways to summarise blogs and the role they play in strategic communications.
Blogs are organic, and organic conversations are more likely to be trusted. Daily dialogue between friends and family aren’t structured; rather they follow the flow of a natural rhythm. In this manner, dialogue between an organisation and a public is more likely to be trusted if it is perceived as more colloquial, genuine and organic.
In their analysis of public relations weblogs Jordi Xifra and Assumpció Huertas  identify personal communication and the possibility of commenting as two defining features which set them apart from other online communication tools. By providing the opportunity to establish a human relationship, blogs provide an effective tool for two-way symmetrical communication models.
Blogging and the PR practitioner
The inability of PR practitioners to understand the importance of blogs in the over-arching communication strategy is a symptom of the PR industry’s inability to understand the modern, participatory and egalitarian nature of online communications. PR and communications professionals with a corporate focus approach communication as a tool for overcoming challenges to organisational objectives. This type of thinking limits their ability to identify opportunities to engage in real dialogue with stakeholders, and as such they miss opportunities to build relationships built on trust.
Indeed, PR and marketing professionals are quick to dismiss blogs and their importance in a wider communication strategy because they hold them up against traditional print communications, such as magazines and newspaper . They compare apples with pears, and in doing so fail to grasp the importance not only of blogging, but of the participatory and pliable nature of online communications.
Shrugging off the corporate persona
Unlike the traditional public relations attitudes of ‘command and control’, modern day practitioners are required to shift their thinking to model of ‘listen and participate’ . Blogs allow organisations to shrug off their impersonal corporate persona, and develop a real online community with their target public. Regular blogging not only provides honest and effective communication with target publics, it allows key stakeholders to feel as if they are being given a true (and personable) insight into the organisation.
While certain larger and more traditional communications practitioners may refuse to recognise the legitimacy of blogs as a communication method, the growing popularity of blogging is providing small- to medium-enterprises (as well as smaller NGOs) with a cost-effective opportunity to stay in touch with their publics.
If organisations want to exploit the full potential of blogs they need to stop using them as a ‘tool’ and rather embrace them as a style of communication. Organisations would be better placed to hire one single practitioner who has been an experienced personal blogger, and work with them to try and express the corporate voice, values, aims and ethics in a regular blog, as well as to scour the internet and comment accordingly in line with the organisation’s values on the blog’s of others.
 Xifra, J & Huertas, A 2008, ‘Blogging PR: an exploratory analysis of public relations weblog’, Public Relations Review 34 (3), pp. 269–75.
 Scott, DM 2007, The new rules of marketing and PR, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey.
 Scoble, R & Israel, S 2006, Naked conversations: how blogs are changing the way businesses talk with customers, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey.