Tech PR: Your Company Blog Isn’t A Media Outlet, And It Never Will Be


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It’s too easy at this point to keep beating up on Amazon, as articles covering last week’s cloud debacle continue to include the phrase, “Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.” So rather than kicking a company that I hope will do better next time around, let’s take a look at the wrong-headed communications perspective that Amazon undoubtedly shares with many other tech companies: the tale of media obsolescence.

With a blog on the company site, it is tempting to see old-fashioned media relations as just passé. Like a king with a common touch, corporations may feel empowered – even righteous — about taking their story directly to the people and leaving those pesky reporters to dig up quotes from other, lesser, mortals. It’s a pleasant story — democratic-sounding, high-tech(ish), even potentially cheaper, as management envisions the PR department replaced by one guy at his keyboard. Too bad it’s a tale told by an idiot.

Among the fallacies embedded in this “strategy”:

  • Media outlets are irrelevant.
  • Journalists are nothing but an annoying barrier between you and your audience.
  • Everyone you need to reach is reading your blog.

As a die-hard online geek myself, I’m the first to say that traditional media is in a tough spot — but it’s a major mistake to confuse, say, the printed newspaper with the concept of media outlets, particularly as those outlets online have become nearly endlessly searchable and sharable. I didn’t read a paper on the Amazon story last week; I caught the story on Twitter, ran a Google news search, and read account after account from national publications, trade publications, and independent blogs. Via organic searches, feed subscriptions, and social networks, stories are more relevant than ever before.

And that makes writers as important as ever. Not just because they produce the content, but because interested readers can quickly and ruthlessly hunt for the most incisive and illuminating take on any subject. And that often comes down to the most pointed, squirm-inducing questions. Questioners by trade put you on the spot, and often see the story from an angle that isn’t so visible from inside the corporate walls. That isn’t a bad thing.

As for your blog, maybe you’re widely read and maybe you’re not. Certainly many cloud customers knew to go to Amazon’s blog to see what was going on with the outage. But what impact did the blog have beyond the existing customer base? What impact would a post there have on the vast swath of potential cloud users who do not have the early adopter mindset — and may even be watching for problems now to determine whether the cloud is safer than it sounds? Nada. Those people went to read the New York Times blog, the Wall Street Journal article, or corresponding stories on ZDnet, ComputerWorld, Forbes, or Fortune. And you know what was said there? “Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.”

Blogging is important; but so is inviting questions from people who hunt for hot stories and bedrock truth for a living. And to get in that kitchen, you have to be prepared to take the heat. To imagine that your company blog takes the place of availability and openness with the press is to take a dangerously insular view of your audience and community. Which works, I guess, as long as you don’t want them to grow.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kate Schackai
Kate combines a technical understanding of web 2.0 with classic PR savvy, resulting in online communications that both humans and Google love. She joins Crawford from WordPress development firm TCWebsite, where she worked in online marketing and search engine optimization.


  1. Thanks for the thoughtful comments. What we are missing is contemplative thought and research — in addition to the communication.

    I appreciated CNET’s research into a blog one of our team members, (John Webster, ) was to post. As he dug into the citing, what became apparent is the amount of mis -information flying around. We could not substantiate what was being said – nor was Amazon available for comment or communicating. We may never really know what has happened in their cloud sphere. That maybe becuz they don’t know or haven’t identified the problem.

    Regardless, this demonstrates the power of replication of miss-information, miss-communication (pun intended as a reflection of their mirroring problem).


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