Social media (and blogs in particular) present critical credibility and ethical challenges to public relations. The president and CEO of Edelman, the global PR giant, says, "PR will be changed by blogs." The vice president at the, Catherine Franklin, consults blogs on a daily basis as part of her media analysis. "Blogs are an exciting new way for us to get out our clients' messages," she says.

Blogs are increasingly being viewed as a source of information. 8% of American internet users write blogs and 34% read blogs on a regular basis. Furthermore, 20,000 new blogs are created worldwide everyday.

Credibility of Blogs

In 2008, a study was conducted that focused on the use, credibility and impact on the communication industry of blogs. Public relations practitioners and journalists were fields of particular interest.

Interestingly, public relations practitioners were found to be less likely than journalists to consider blogs a credible source of information. "Historically, the purpose of journalism is, by definition, telling readers a factual story about what is occurring within one’s community. This type of work would seemingly find noninteractive surveillance and research use more appropriate. Public relations, also by definition, revolves around relationships practitioners and organizations build with their publics. This would seemingly find more interactive uses appropriate. Yet, the results here are the exact opposite, with journalists favoring interactive uses and public relations practitioners favoring noninteractive uses."

However, blog users view blogs as more credible than traditional media sources, and the more a person uses blogs, the more credible blogs become to that person. "The more often a person views, reads, or listens to a particular medium, the higher he or she tends to rate it in terms of credibility. General internet users do not find blogs credible, but focusing on those who actually visit blogs raises the number from 12% to 23% saying blogs are credible." Thus, if blogs continue to grow in popularity, they will also becoming increasingly viewed as a reliable source of information.

Why Public Relations Practitioners Fear Blogs

Public relations practitioners fear “blogger backlash.” Furthermore, “respondents felt challenged by the ability of “citizen journalists” to report instantaneously on an organization and crisis events, thereby making the work of public relations practitioners more complex.”

How Public Relations Practitioners are Using Blogs

Currently, “public relations practitioners use media relations techniques to obtain coverage for their client or organization and obtain an implicit third-party endorsement from journalists who run such items.” So far, public relations practitioners have tended to use blogs as a source of information, rather than a way to present information to the public. Also, blogs have been increasingly used in issues management and environmental scanning activities.

Studies examinging the use of blogs by organizations and their activist publics found that organizations should "communicate in a conversational human voice on blgos to enhance relationship management strategies."

How to Build the Credibility of a Blog

Although there is some discussion about the best way to go about improving a blog's credibility, one idea is the pyramid theory. There are four components necessary to writing a credible blog.


1. Knowledge (10%)

  • Pick a topic you're knowledgeable about. This may only comprise of 10% of the total necessities to writing a good blog, but it is the foundation of the pyramid.

2. Focus (15%)

  • Keep it short and don't go off onto tangents. Every entry is like an 'elevator speech'.

3. Enthusiasm (25%)

  • If you are passionate about the topic you are writing about, your readers will notice. People tend to see passionate people as more credible.

4. Care and Concern (50%)

  • If you show care for your audience, it will build trust. *

Business Blogging for Beginners
By:Andrea Schupbach

Creating a business blog is a lot like hosting a cocktail party: You're networking with customers in a low-pressure setting and, at best, nurturing great relationships. Experts, Elizabeth Albrycht of Blogging Planet and Andy Lark of the Lark Group, have come up with the lowdown on blogging style and etiquette.

1. Make Intrductions- A good host connects guests. Scan feeds from your favroite blogs, and aintain a blogroll, linking readers to blogs you recommend, and use the trackback function on most blog publishing programs to notify other bloggers by email when you cite them. Hopefully they will do the same.
2. Be authentic- In any case, being yourself plays best.
3. Dress business casual- An informal style (and grammatical imperfection) works well in blogs. Stay away from topics you wouldn't share with your mother—or without a nondisclosure agreement. They recommend Yahoo's blogging policy: "Be respectful of your colleagues, get your facts straight, provide context to your argument, and engage in private feedback."
4. Don't scrimp- Nothing brings a party to a halt like running out of food or booze. Dedicate necessary resources to keep the conversation going. Blogging does not cost anything, but it requiers time and commitment. Blogging should be in a person's job description.
5. Have a contingency plan- If the party gets out of hand/your company hits a crisis, you should be ready. Confronting problems directly can earn a company a lof of trust.

"Credibility and the Use of Blogs among Professionals in the Communication Industry." Journalism & mass communication quarterly. 85, no. 1, (2008): 169 (18 pages)
Summaries by Amber Caylor

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