Highlight points from the panel - pictured, left to right: Dan Forbush, Tom Foremski, Jeremy Wright, Heath Row - moderated by Dan Forbush. The panel addressed the impact of blogs on their work, their general view on the value of blogs as a communication channel, and how best to promote their blogs.
Tom: Blogs are an incredible medium and will change the economic dynamics of whole sectors of industry. You don't know until you've tried it. Blogs occur naturally; you can't force people to read blogs. If you create value, people will find you and talk about you. It's an automatic feedback mechanism. As a media pro, I can see so many ways of using blogs. I can experiment with new forms of writing that's away from the old print model. Concentrate on compelling and original content, the rest will take care of itself.
Heath: I wear two blogging hats - personal blog and Fast Company blog. First business mag to launch a blog, blogging since August 2003. Fascinating experiment and experience. Changed publishing model. Major challenges and benefits for media. Example: for a monthly print magazine, a blog offers great ways to share new and fresh content more frequently with readers. Involve and engage the readers. Help readers better connect with us and other readers. We have tremendous Google juice. Our site uses cascading style sheets which has given us high respect by web developers. Starting to see articles created for the blog make it into the print magazine. Open blog up to the readers, don't worry about editorial controls.
Jeremy: As far removed from a journalist as you can get. Some would say a media whore, but I'm a professional blogger. I auctioned myself on eBay and was recently fired for blogging. Not intentional pushing the boundaries! What came out of eBay was Darren Barefoot and I started a blog consulting company. We have conversations with companies on how they should use them. It's all about influence - why talk to one person when you can talk to 100?
Dan: Has your move into blogging changed your relationship with PR?
Tom: Nothing has changed; it's still about trusted relationships.
Jeremy: For me, everything has changed. So many ways for blogs to be used. PR will blow that wide open in the coming months.
Heath: Some things have changed. If a company has white papers or a customer survey, not all that will turn into an article but might make a blog entry. My interactions with PR people haven't changed but what I do with their stuff has.
On other relationship with PR aspects -
Jeremy: What has value to me from a PR person is the relationship. I'm now getting 5 or 10 press releases a day but if it doesn't fit what I blog about, I won't blog it.
Heath: Don't call me to see if I got your email. Very irritating!
Tom: Contact me by phone but it had better be good. Call me with scoops! If I can't take your call, well, I can't. But don't stop trying to reach me. I want your story!
On what makes blogging journalism?
Tom: It's a super-set of journalism. The word 'journalism' lends itself to what blogs are.
Jeremy: Blogs now are how many journals started. The fact I have over 100,000 readers blows my mind. I think I provide some value that people want. It may not be journalism, but it seems to be what people want.
Heath: Blogs encompass all writing not only journalism. It's a form of immediate journalism - as soon as it happens, other people can know about it. We're all people and have the same biases as anyone else.
On looking into the future and what's next -
Jeremy: The EPIC model we saw earlier (post). Also, where blogs just become a part of the internet, one part of the fabric. And, they could be something completely different. Blogs evolve almost daily and are changing.
Tom: That's proprietary information! 'Blogging' means different things to different people. The technology that enables it is the fascinating thing, and that is what will change things completely. To do a blog, I have Movable Type that costs nothing compared to the huge costs of newspaper publishing systems. It will change the game.
Heath: I don't think blogging will kill large media brands. Blogging is what desktop publishing was - it's a means to communcate. But barriers to entry are low now. Look at The Economist: no bylines. Just great writing. Trusted. Look at magazine blogrolls, see who they read. That's where trust shows.