Since their emergence in the mid-nineties the number of blogs on the internet have continued to grow at a rapid pace. From their humble beginning as personal diaries, blogs have found their way into the education, business, political, journalism and public relations sphere, as highlighted by Xifra and Huertas in “Blogging PR: An exploratory analysis of public relations weblogs“. A number of public relations professionals have realised the benefits of blogging and have jumping on this user-generated bandwagon. However there has been more hesitation from the pr profession to embrace blogging then one might think. I mean why wouldn’t pr professionals flock in droves to use a two-way communication tool that, as Deirdre Quinn-Allan points, “… enables public relations people to develop a more authentic form of communication with relevant target public.” As long they are not blatantly impersonal corporate blogs, publics see them as a much more genuine form of interact rather than sleazy manipulated spin that they have become so weary of.
Even with recognised benefits there’s a large percentage of public relations professional not taking up the opportunity to blog in a personal or professional capacity. Kent alludes to the fact that both pr “practitioners and academics are struggling to understand the value and consequences of blogs” in his paper “Critical analysis of blogging in public relations“.
Philippe Borremans’ post on his blog “Conversationblog: Talks Cheap, Free Speech Isn’t” makes reference to the second European survey of pr professionals conducted at the end of 2006. This survey found that although 89% of pr professionals surveyed thought that blogs and social media will be as integral a part of communication planning as websites currently are, 69% said that they don’t have staff with the skills to handle blogging. 42% reported that they also couldn’t easily quantify the return on investment (ROI) of blogging.
Not being able to quantify ROI is a worrying thing for pr professionals, especially these days when executives expect to see statistical data to back up success claims. However factually demonstrating ROI should not be a concern for pr professionals, as there have been frameworks developed for their use. In 2007 the Forrester Research group released two papers regarding the ROI of blogging. The second of which included a framework to demonstrate the ROI of blogs. The following diagram demonstrates how this framework can be applied.