PR is listening

I was on a panel last week for the Association for Women in Communications, a group of PR professionals. The topic was blogging in business, and it drew a lively crowd.
Teresa Estrada told the story of IBM’s blogging policy — they’re for it. As IBM becomes more of a services, company, they see blogging as a way of changing the impression of IBM as a faceless behemoth (not her words). She had sensible answers to people’s anxieties about unprofessional behavior.
Sean-Paul Kelly, aka the Agonist gave a fiery talk about how blogs compensate for the failings of mainstream media, and have a symbiotic relationship with mainstream media.
The hot button conversation topics are the ethics of blogging; blogging “vs.” the mainstream media; “getting fired for blogging”.
These topics distract from what seem to me to be the major theme for communications professionals. Blogging turns PR from mostly pitching to mostly listening. You can find out what people are saying about you, and be part of the conversation.
Traditional media (think mediation) is a workaround for the inability to talk to people directly, and to hear what people are saying.

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