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The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The First Blogger: Some of the questions that follow Esther's panel, which also features Ogilvy PR's Asia boss Chris Graves and Ajit Balakrishnan, CEO of India's Rediff.com, reveal a deep discomfort with the anarchic nature of the Internet.

One -- very persistent -- questioner wants to know what to do when an Internet site includes false and defamatory information. How do you wipe disinformation from the web? Answer: you can't. But you can counter it with accurate information.

Another questioner wants to know why she and her clients should pay attention to a 14 year old blogger with no credibility. But a quick exchange with the panel suggests that the blogger has credibility -- at least with his or her audience -- but lacks authority, in the traditional sense. The fact that the individual is 14, has no formal training, and doesn't behave like a journalist seems really troubling.

All the panelists are trying to explain that credibility no longer comes from traditional authority, but from having an authentic voice and a point of view that others find compelling. But the fact that the blogger is a teenager seems to be a sticking point. And it's at this point that Balakrishnan makes a killer point.

"Anne Frank was a teenager during the Second World War, and she was one of the most powerful voices of her era," he says. "Anne Frank wrote a blog."

4 Comments:

  • At 12:24 AM, Anonymous Jeff Beringer said…

    You're spot on by saying it's impossible to simply wipe away misinformation from the Web -- but there are some solid steps companies can take to level the debate.

    We've found the best results by first researching the landscape to identify most influential sources of misinformation (based on number of other sites/blogs that link to it or reference it), and then focus outreach efforts to those who may be willing to listen, armed credible information which can lead them to take another look.

    While some Web sites and blogs simply won't change what's been posted, many of the most influential are open to another point of view and welcome additional perspective. Often, we'll see these information sources either update their existing posts/articles, or add another to provide more balanced perspective. It's time-intensive work, but it can generate very positive results.

    Another way to deal with misinformation online is to try and minimize its visibility. One tactical approach to do this is by increasing search engine rankings of sites with accurate information-- driving eyeballs to news sources which share a more balanced or favorable point of view.

    -Jeff Beringer @ GolinHarris

     
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