Highlight points from the panel - pictured, left to right: Anita Campbell, Evelyn Rodriguez, Dan Taylor, Andy Lark - moderated by Elizabeth Albrycht. The panel addressed the broad theme of how the connectedness of blogs and other networked media creates both threats and opportunities for corporate brands:
Where are conversations occurring and how does this impact brands?
Anita: Cut through the clutter to find influential blogs. Example using NE Ohio Blogosphere analysis this month. 'Connector' (lots of connections) blogs and 'maven' (good insights on subject matter) blogs. The seemingly-unconnected can be connected, eg, a poetry blog and a business blog. But more links don't equate to more influence.
Andy: Tendency for people to link to people they already know.
Evelyn: Talk to your customers and ask who they go to for information. Follow that trail and you will get to the influencers.
Andy: The value of a brand is your perception of it. It exists in people's heads. Some big companies are manipulating the blogosphere.
Elizabeth:: What about a startup company without the big-company resources trying to build their brand - how can the blogosphere help? A clear challenge for everyone is getting testimonials - a critical part of building brand credibility.
Anita: Ounce-for-ounce, there is a no more powerful and cost-effective marketing tool today than a blog. Bloggers also talk about other blogs. Example: in yesterday's conference sessions, The Tinbasher Blog was highlighted and mentioned in two separate workshops.
Evelyn: In creating a new brand or company, engage first in dialog with your perceived market before you launch any product. Understand customers' needs first. See this happening more and more with blogs.
Andy: Gaping opportunity for communicators to understand the power of conversations in markets. PR can be the experts on facilitating conversations, the keys to the marketing kingdom.