A feature on blogs in the current issue of The Economist hardly adds any value with a subject focus that's been flogged to death by some sections of the mainstream media, notably Forbes magazine last October.
Bloggers can be vicious but they can also help companies avert disaster, says the sub-title as The Economist devotes 10 paragraphs of its 14-paragraph article discussing the negative aspect of blogs and the potential reputation and other damage that a company can suffer at the hands of bloggers.
One reality point, I suppose, is that the article positions blogs among other long-standing social media like online discussion groups (aka forums or chat rooms) and email lists that have been around for years, so a reader of this article would hopefully not form an impression that blogs are just some form of unique evil manifestation of the worst in people.
And there's the rub for me. Yet another article in a mainstream medium where the overall feeling you have after reading it is that blogs and other online communication media are something mostly to be feared and concerned about, so you'd better get your crisis communication plan ready (as the article concludes) for a disaster.
Yes, get your crisis plan ready but not just because, suddenly, there seem to be blogs out there written by bloggers determined only to do you damage!
Let's say you have your crisis communication plan ready to roll so that you are prepared for any eventuality. And that eventuality doesn't necessarily mean a negative thing - the ability to respond quickly and decisively isn't always to do with the negative use of the word 'crisis.'
What's different today - and this is the real point - is that blogs and other new social media (eg, podcasts) should also be factors you will consider and take into account in your crisis communication planning. Not only from the point of view of what such media are saying about your company, your brand, etc, but also how you can make use of such media.
If you want to see some really thoughtful commentary on how blogs fit into overall communication planning, crisis and otherwise, take a look at the posts in the Challenges of Corporate Blogging section in Global PR Blog Week 2.0.