Kent State/BurrellesLuce study shows 3 of 4 PR pros don’t monitor the blogosphere



Update: For the latest post on this study and highlights of the in-depth interviews. But please read this one first — for backstory.

It appears not everyone, even public relations pros, have bloggers on their radar screens. According to data from a recent Kent State/BurrellesLuce survey, 72% of PR professionals say they have NO formal system for monitoring buzz in the blogosphere. Only 19% say they do.

ksu.gifI recently reviewed aggregate data from the survey that drew responses from 938 clients and prospects of BurrellesLuce, the media monitoring and analysis company. It’s a self-selecting sample, to be sure, but for now we’re exploring, not generalizing.

My colleague, Jeanette Drake, and I are trying to develop a base understanding of how PR professionals track and use blogs in day-to-day practice. We’ll present the finished study at the International Public Relations Conference in Miami in March.

For now, most of those who are monitoring blogs say they’re doing it with in-house resources.

Some initial findings

  • 72.3% of respondents say they have no formal procedure for monitoring the content of blogs that may impact their businesses. Another 8% aren’t sure.
  • 18.5% say they work for organizations that use their own blogs to facilitate communication with key stakeholders.
  • Of the 18.5% of organizations that use blogs: 78.3% use blogs to connect with customers and end users; 42.8% to reach news media; 39.8% to communicate with employees.
  • Of those who use blogs in their PR strategies: 63.2% use them to enhance branding efforts; 57.1% to facilitate two-way communication with key stakeholder groups; 46% to improve trust between those groups and the organization.
  • 16.5% of respondents say they are aware of existing employee blogs that discuss work-related activities, but very few actually monitor those blogs.
  • 10.7% of respondents say they have a formal policy related to employee blogging.

As media monitoring services like BurrellesLuce begin promoting their blog-tracking services more aggressively, I’m certain many more PR pros will get on board. In fact, Sue Ross, VP of Marketing for BurrellesLuce, tells me the company now tracks some 40 million blogs for its clients. But since the service is relatively new, even some clients remain unaware of it, as our survey shows.

I’m most interested in learning why PR pros aren’t more engaged with blogs, given the potential of “citizen journalists” to impact public opinion and buyer behavior. Jeanette and I are asking a lot of the “why” questions in follow-up interviews that we’ll complete later this week. We’ll let you know what we learn.





22 Responses to Kent State/BurrellesLuce study shows 3 of 4 PR pros don’t monitor the blogosphere

  1. Laura says:

    I’ll be curious to see what other PR pros say about why they are not more engaged with bloggers. I feel like many professionals in Pittsburgh are very far behind this trend and it causes me some concern.

    Senior-level PR Pros here are very aware of blogs, but they don’t seem to buy into the long term impact of blogs or other Web 2.0 outlets. I think they see them as a passing trend, rather than an opportunity to communicate directly with target audiences. In fact, I think many people are afraid to open those lines of communication for fear of what might transpire. They’re unwilling to let go of that controlled message.

    As someone still on the ground level of the PR scene, I’ve found people with more experience are quick to shrug off targeting bloggers and using other Web 2.0 tactics. Perhaps its of little concern to them because they figure they’ll be retired by the time this stuff (finally) takes off in behind-the-times markets like Pittsburgh. But I will still be working in PR 40+ years down the road and worry that some of us might be left behind if we don’t start employing (and working the kinks out of) these tactics now.

  2. Laura,

    Your instincts, I think, are correct. While I’m still analyzing the data from our follow-up in-depth surveys (some 55 of them), I’m seeing that hesitation you mention. Some folks seem unwilling to embrace blogs and other Web 2.0 tools until they see a more tangible impact on their own clients. “It’s not an issue yet,” is a typical comment. Some of these professionals are wondering if blogs will fade in prominence when the “next new tech gizmo” comes along.

    I understand the concern of those who doubt the power of Web 2.0. But I think their wrong.

    From where I sit social media represent not a fad by a new paradigm in communication for our field, and it’s been building for a decade. At long last, it’s a chance to have that “conversation” on which relationships are built and maintained. At the same time, social media represent a threat to the established ways — and they represent another new learning curve that some are unwilling to embrace.

  3. Paull Young says:

    The numbers aren’t overly surprising but they are disappointing.

    Until reading this post I had thought the US was a lot further ahead than here. Perhaps it is the case that the leaders are way out in front while the pack is being left behind?

    I look forward to hearing more about your research here.

  4. Andy Curran says:

    The answer to the question of why a lot of PR folks don’t track blogs is found in the response of Sue Ross. The phrase “some 40 million blogs” is enough to make one’s eyes glaze over. In every market, there is a finite amount of MSM outlets. It’s relatively easy to keep track of them. You make some good contacts at these places, do a little schmoozing, and pick up the phone or send a release when you’ve got something. New blogs are appearing this very second. The market is so fluid, it is impossible to get a handle on it. It’s akin to trying to catch all the mosquitos in your yard on a muggy summer night. Some blogs are inactive. Others are advertising sites. Not all bloggers have credibility, so how do you know where to focus? It’s easy to find out who the big players are in MSM. A lot of smaller agencies might not be able to afford BurrellsLuce’s service, and they probably don’t have the time or technology to scour the net manually or with a spider/’bot program.

    As an aggregate, bloggers might reach a sizable audience. Individually, however, most blogs reach a relatively small circle. Many blogs have a decidely incestuous audience: “You check out my blog, and I’ll check out yours”. It comes down to efficiency. How much effort is needed to reach a substantial number of bloggers with your message?

    The other side of the fence is that if an agency uses blogs to spread the word, the agency has to promote the blog to attract hits. Just like a MSM outlet does to attract viewers/listeners/readers. Talk about playing a dual role!

    It’s so much easier to get a newspaper, magazine, radio or TV station to run your story. You don’t have to contact a lot of people. I didn’t say it’s necessarily more effective. I said it’s easier.

    A good starting point: a lot of MSM sites have their own bloggers, so strike up relationships with them, and go from there. They’re easy to find, they have credibility, and their sites attract large audiences. Free advice…you’re welcome!

    Point of this comment: It’s a daunting task to keep track of other blogs and promote yours. That might be why it hasn’t caught on, yet.

  5. Eden Spodek says:

    Perhaps more PRs would include blog monitoring into their daily mix if they understood that it really isn’t that difficult. In my experience, it just takes some research, particularly in regards to understanding key words, meta data/tagging, RSS readers and various blog-tracking search engines. (Alternatively, you can hire a monitoring service. ) Once that’s done, scanning the blogosphere for what’s being said about your organization and/or high-profile individuals is a relatively quick process. It’s easy to get the hang of it all…then you move on to appreciating how bloggers gain credibility and how much influence they have on their audience(s)…or if they have any audience of significance at all.

  6. Ed Lee says:

    Hey Andy,

    From my perspective, as an internet communications consultant, outreach to blogs is about much more than simply getting impressions number to be put in a clipping report.

    A good blog outreach campaign would generate a lot of incoming links to the client site which would boost it’s search engine ranking, propelling it up the list of results returned on relevant searchs.

    A really good blog outreach campaign would create a groundswell of opinion and chatter that the MSM would pick up on. It’s sometime not the amount of readers, but the influence of the readers, that makes a blog important.

    To follow on from your advice, I’d recommend picking 15-20 bloggers relevant to a client and track what they’re saying for a month. Initiate a preliminary contact and ask if they’re interested in receiving information on your client – if they say yes, great you’ve got another contact to send personalized pitches to; if not, no big deal, there are 50 million more.

    Rinse and repeat until you have a highly targeted list of bloggers who view you as a trusted source of information. It’s hard work, but it pays off eventually. Unfortunately, laziness pays off now.


  7. Both Eden and Ed make great points that are second nature to blogosphere insiders. So Andy, we’re bringing you up to speed here.

    As Eden says, it’s not tough to monitor blogs. Just follow her advice. I’m having good luck day-to-day with Google Alerts, plus those critical 20 or so that I scan on the feeder. I also check tags on Technorati. I’m done with this by 8 a.m., or my third cup of coffee.

    Follow-up interviews for our study, however, do show a lot of trepidation over the value of monitoring blogs and anxiety over “complexity.” I’m guessing this will be an important topic at professional development seminars in 2007! Blogs can be called a lot of things — but complex?

    Ed’s point about the value of blogs on SEO is not well known to most PR folks, or that’s what I observed from the interviews. When asked about tangible results from their own corporate blogs, only one even mentioned SEO, two others said blogs have “increased web traffic.”

  8. Ed Lee says:

    I think that more and more PRs will have to recognize the SEO implications of what we do – if the industry wants to become more of a strategic partner to our clients.

  9. […] Kent State/BurrellesLuce study shows 3 of 4 PR pros don’t monitor the blogosphere « ToughSledding 72% of PR professionals say they have NO formal system for monitoring buzz in the blogosphere. (tags: blogger_relations blog_monitoring PR blogging statistics) […]

  10. Stacy says:

    FYI: This was in a recent issue of Time Magazine


    While the past few elections have seen candidates try out newfangled blogging technology with all the comfort and skill of a granddad on a skateboard, the 2008 candidates are doing everyone a favor by not trying to be bloggers.

    “Bloggers put much more of a premium on understanding the medium rather than joining in,” says Kevin Madden, a spokesman for Mitt Romney. Romney’s strategy is to participate in podcasts and talk regularly with top conservative bloggers, an approach that has made him the top vote getter in Republican blogger straw polls, though he lags in national telephone ones.

    Hillary Clinton, a real-world front runner, dwells in the low one figures in blogger surveys, but she has hired former Kerry hand Peter Daou to burnish her Web image. Daou says bloggers need to be wooed like any other reporters–or voters, for that matter. “It’s very old school,” he says. “I just reach out to them one by one.” Employing bloggers instead of just courting them is a tricky next step, though. McCain was chastised last year when a blogger posted attacks on Romney without disclosing up front that he was on McCain’s payroll.

  11. […] days as I complete a research paper on blog use and monitoring — the one I talked about in this post. It’s due Feb. […]

  12. […] School of Journalism & Mass Communication at Kent State University, Ohio brings us news that 72 per cent of PRs have no formal way to monitor blogs. (Tip of the hat to Judy […]

  13. […] Kent State/BurrellesLuce study shows 3 of 4 PR pros don’t monitor the blogosphere « ToughSledding (tags: brandmonitoring) […]

  14. […] PR-Agenturen verschenken ein unglaublich hohes Potential an Informationen und an Frühwarnungen. So verzichten drei von vier PR-Experten auf den Einsatz der Meinungsbeobachtung in Blogs. Dies ist das alarmierende Zwischenergebnis von Bill Sledzik, Prof. für Journalism & Mass Communication in der Kent State/BurrellesLuce Studie. […]

  15. […] verzichten auf den Einsatz der Meinungsbeobachtung in der Blogosphäre, so das Zwischenergebnis der Kent State/BurrellesLuce Studie von Prof. Bill Sledzik. Den ganze Beitrag gibt es im […]

  16. […] Kent State/BurrellesLuce study shows 3 of 4 PR pros don’t monitor the blogosphere (ToughSledding, 29 januari 2007) […]

  17. Really intriguing results . . . thanks for sharing.

    One of the answers to your questions about why more PR pros don’t blog is: they’re not ready.

    When I did my first blogging presentation in 2004, nobody got it. I’ll admit it took me almost two years to publish my first post. Getting comfortable in a new medium takes time for PR firms and their clients.

    Regarding SEO results, in January I interviewed 8 leading PR pros. My blog posts about the interviews often outrank the speaker’s own sites – and many of them are also expert Internet marketers. For those who are interested, here’s a link to a post on 10 ways to profit from your blog’s search term stats:

    Barbara Rozgonyi

    P.S. As a mother of a high school senior planning on studying communications in college, I applaud your efforts to lead the way at Kent State. Keep it coming!

  18. […] to our RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!According to a still in progress Kent State/BurrellsLuce study some 3 out of 4 PR professionals don’t monitor blogs. That’s pretty consistent with the […]

  19. […] Kent State/BurrellesLuce study of PR professionals found that 72 percent of respondents have no formal procedure for monitoring […]

  20. […] hoping the NRA is among the 20% who regularly monitor blogs. It’ll save me sending a nasty email to complain about the group’s public relations […]

  21. […] ik jullie ook niet wil onthouden zijn de resultaten van een Brits onderzoek (door o.a. Ken State University) onder meer dan 800 PR professionals binnen organisaties. Eerlijk […]

  22. Greg Smith says:

    I take an educated (PhD/practitioner) guess and say it’s because they haven’t got the time. In Australia it’s also because most haven’t got a clue what a blog is.

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