Saturday, May 21, 2005

Blogging pains

There's an interesting mini-case study going on over at American Business Media, the group that is the watering hole for many "business to business" journalists and organizations.

ABM, apparently after some serious discussion, finally decided blogging was for real and just this month began its blog, Mediapace. It didn't take long for the critics, especially Paul Conley who consults and teaches such matters at Northwest Missouri State, to suggest that maybe this venture wasn't being all that it could be. The criticisms were rounded up in an article in Folio.

Conley brought it to my attention. While it initially comes across as a lot of inside baseball (pardon the sports analogy), if you give it some thought, I think it actually serves as a good study of how this new media world operates:
  • Come late to the party, as ABM did, and get zinged. Then, the suggestion on Mediapace that blogs and RSS are the next big thing immediately brought some sniping that ABM was still behind. Well, perhaps, but a word of caution to critics: Don't outrun your supply chain. While the "digiterati" are all atwitter about RSS and now podcasts and videocasts, I've done a lot of speaking in the past couple of months. I always ask who knows about RSS. While there are a few, the collective "Huh" is deafening. To most of the public, RSS still is the next big thing.
  • If you're going to do it, do it right - part 1: Mediapace took its shots for poor writing, editing, etc. The point is well-taken that if you are purporting to represent an industry, such errors will be noted with a vengeance.
  • If you're going to do it, do it right - part 2: Mediapace did not begin external linking until several posts in. That just reinforced the "you don't get it" claims of the critics. Lesson: If you are going to use a form, and you are going to come late to the party, then once you start you'd better be willing to use all of it and show that you know and can meet the expectations.
All this is worth remembering for traditional media companies, too, as they seemingly scramble to add blogs, etc., to their sites. As I wrote in a paper two years ago, once the public, with off-the-shelf equipment and programs, can do it as well as you can, why shouldn't it expect the "professionals" to do even better?

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