The concept of training executives to face traditional media is nothing new; many communications professionals have tried-and-true strategies that they dust off and update when an interview opportunity arises. But the emerging (and rapidly metastasizing) digital media landscape presents new challenges—and opportunities—in the context of media relations and, in turn, media training. The biggest question: How do you prepare yourself or your client for an interview with bloggers, widely considered to be the mavericks of journalism?
According to Karen Friedman, president of Karen Friedman Enterprises, the first question to ask yourself is, “How important is this?” Seeking interviews with bloggers isn’t right for every organization or message. But, if you decide to take the plunge, pick your battles, Friedman says. “Think ‘message,’ and take control.” As it turns out, control can be won by standing your ground and supporting every statement with an example.
“Answer bloggers’ questions, but give visuals,” says Andy Gilman, CEO of CommCore Consulting Group, noting the blogosphere’s affinity for making stories as interactive as possible.
Once you’ve braved the blogosphere and endured its digital spotlight, how do you measure the impact of your exposure? Ken Capps, vice president of Public Affairs for Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport, insists that these interviews can be evaluated in ways similar to traditional media. It’s just a matter of looking at outcomes—how the blog affects audience behavior—and the context (what readers take away, and how they respond). The latter element can be judged simply by looking at the chain of commentary. Then, Capps says, track blogosphere activity via:
• Online surveys
• Keyword measurement (how many of your key messages were picked up)
• Tonality (keeping in mind that blogs are inherently more conversational, so “casual” doesn’t necessarily equal “critical” or “flippant”)
He also cites the following tools to help measure message pickup among blogs:
Contacts: Ken Capps, email@example.com; Karen Friedman, firstname.lastname@example.org; Andy Gilman, email@example.com