Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Brand Reputations Need to be Monitored on Web Blogs

Posted By Amanda Walsh

This article, "Boring Old Values and the New Media" by Edward Wasserman from MiamiHerald.com was an interesting commentary about journalistic practice and the embarrassing consequences when those practices are ignored on the Internet. According to the article two "big news names" affiliated with Internet operations have been ridiculed for not applying these basic principles to their Web sites.

CNN's iReport.org
is a Web site set up to foster citizen journalism. Citizen journalism is about engaging the public to offer information and observations of their own concerning the world around them.

According to Wasserman's article, a post on iReport.org earlier this month, by user "johntw" reported that "Steve Jobs, chief executive of Apple Inc., had suffered a 'major heart attack.'" The story was false but the damage had been done. As a result, the jumpy economy was affected and the market share for Apple dropped to "its lowest point since May 2007." For years, rumors have had effect on economic markets but the power of the Internet and the instantaneous exchange of information has proved to be an interesting new change.

The other questionable journalistic practice was on PBS.org, which hosts a blog called MediaShift. A journalism undergraduate student from New York University posted a first-person, scathing recap of a class at NYU called "Reporting Gen Y."

What does this mean for public relations?

These instances have proved the need for transparency, accuracy and fact checking. Basic journalistic practice applies to PR professionals as well as journalists. Especially on the Internet when your company's name is linked with the content on the Web site. Basic journalistic principles of transparency such as who you are, who you work for, and what you are doing are all objectives that should continue to be followed despite the medium of writing.

In today's blogging world, these standards may not always be met but ethical professionals need to be aware. PR professionals need to constantly be on top of what is being said about their clients and their industries. For example, the false rumor about Apple affected the company's market shares. It is imperative that businesses monitor the Internet, not only news online but social media outlets as well, to ensure that false rumors are corrected as quickly as possible.

The foundations of journalism seem to go against the free form, say-anything ways of the Internet and blogging. Even at Furia Rubel there is a fact checking and revision process that goes into all of the blog entries posted on The PR Lawyer. For large corporations to put their name on a Web site that they are not monitoring is a dangerous decision to make for their brand reputation and management.

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