Most companies look for mentions in the media including online media like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.
An issue with sharing information this way is that some of the control over the message is lost. As the message moves from person to person it can get distorted. Just like the game of telephone you played as a kid, your company message can change as it passes through the various online media channels.
eMarketer came out with a study focusing on the struggle companies have regarding their PR messages.
PR and communications firm Burson-Marsteller analyzed more than 150 messages sent out by companies in the Financial Times Global 100 list of firms and discovered a large gap between the messages that went out and how they were covered on blogs.
Message distortion was highest for companies in Latin America and the US, with a global average of 69% of blog postings not reflecting the message companies were trying to send. According to the report, bloggers tended to include “opinions, personal experience, knowledge of competitors and products, and speculation.”
As you can see in the chart above, message distortion by bloggers is high in the US. For companies looking to share a story about a new product, new service, contest, or any other kind of valuable message it can be a big problem if key points are lost in translation. It’s the nature of opening up to online communication – the more the message spreads, the more distortion you’re going to get.
Message Control Blogging
You shouldn’t be discouraged by the message distortion happening with online media especially in blogging. You simply have to control the aspects of the message you can and work to improve the gap between what your company is trying to say and what others are sharing.
A common way companies are getting their message out to bloggers is by sending messages to select bloggers with information, photos, and even product samples. These messages often have pre-written press release articles that bloggers simply republish. This seems like a good way to control the message and it is, but some of the luster is lost when people read the same press release over and over on various blogs.
What smart companies are doing is sending personalized messages to each blogger on their radar while asking the blogger to share their interpretation of the message. Allowing each blogger to write their own post with some key points from the message rides the line of running into message distortion, but it gives readers more unique content.
The best way to share a company message with the blogging community is to create the message on a blog of your own first. In this situation the company has all the control over their own message. The company can then encourage bloggers to expand on the thoughts in the original message. The key to this strategy is that there is an original message readers can refer to when reading reactions from other bloggers.
Has your company experienced message distortion?
How have you worked to control the message you’re sending out to online media and bloggers?