David Kirkpatrick and Daniel Roth write in Ten Tech Trends series in Fortune magazine, Freewheeling bloggers can boost your product—or destroy it. Either way, they've become a force business can't afford to ignore. Excerpts with edits and my comments added:
The blog—short for weblog can indeed be, as Scoble and Gates say, fabulous for relationships. But it can also be much more: a company's worst PR nightmare, its best chance to talk with new and old customers, an ideal way to send out information, and the hardest way to control it. Blogs are challenging the media and changing how people in advertising, marketing, and public relations do their jobs. A few companies like Microsoft are finding ways to work with the blogging world—even as they're getting hammered by it. So far, most others are simply ignoring it. That will get harder: According to blog search-engine and measurement firm Technorati, 23,000 new weblogs are created every day—or about one every three seconds. Each blog adds to an inescapable trend fueled by the Internet: the democratization of power and opinion. Blogs are just the latest tool that makes it harder for corporations and other institutions to control and dictate their message. An amateur media is springing up, and the smart are adapting. Says Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman Public Relations: "Now you've got to pitch the bloggers too. You can't just pitch to conventional media."
In a blog, whatever the topic, the discussion of business isn't usually too far behind: from bad experiences with a product to good customer service somewhere else. Suddenly everyone's a publisher and everyone's a critic. Says Jeff Jarvis, author of the blog BuzzMachine, "There should be someone at every company whose job is to put into Google and blog search engines the name of the company or the brand, followed by the word 'sucks,' just to see what customers are saying." It all used to be so easy; the adage went "never pick a fight with anyone who buys ink by the barrel." But now everyone can get ink for free, launch a diatribe, and—if what they have to say is interesting to enough people—expect web-enabled word of mouth to carry it around the world. Unlike earlier promises of self-publishing revolutions, the blog movement seems to be the real thing. A big reason for that is a tiny innovation called the permalink: a unique web address for each posting on every blog. Instead of linking to web pages, which can change, bloggers link to one another's posts, which typically remain accessible indefinitely. This style of linking also gives blogs a viral quality, so a pertinent post can gain broad attention amazingly fast—and reputations can get taken down just as quickly. As the impact of blogs spreads through global business, that pain—and promise—will be something companies will have to deal with. And if they don't? You're bound to read about it in a blog. This piece does provide a good overview of the ways blogs are impinging on the business world and watch the bloggers action about the Tsunami - they are now one of the most significant community in the world towards fund raising, communication and in aid measures..