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New PR tools: wikis and blogs?

That blogs and other new media are having an effect on old media has been well documented. But another area of the media landscape -- public relations -- is grappling with the changes too.

Last week, Redwood City PR firm Eastwick Communications launched a program called eastwikkers intended to help companies devise strategies to combine new tools such as wikis into their PR efforts. That could include public blogs for company executives or internal wikis aimed at helping employees collborate more efficiently. Eastwick has partnered with Palo Alto wiki company Socialtext to offer its clients a private label wiki service called eastwiki.

The firm's first client is Intellisync, which is using a wiki to help coordinate communications among its internal marketing team, Eastwick and several agencies in Europe.

Giovanni Rodriguez, executive vice president of Eastwick, who is helping spearhead the effort, said he envisions many different uses for blogs and wikis. He said the firm might create private, online spaces for reporters, or for clients to connect with each other. Public spaces where competitors can come together to discuss issues that are common to them is another option.

"We could aggregate info about a topic into one space,'' he said. "We think it could provide visibility to the participants. But that's later, farther out.''

This is all new to the Eastwick team, and they are feeling their way though. But says Rodriguez, "We feel confident enough to throw resources at it."


An important example of this, because it was the first third-party host of its size, is the Yahoo Message Boards system for public companies. They have been pretty popular since about 1996-7. E.g.:

It seems that we might get more transparency from companies if they don't have direct control over everything. If a company has direct control, they may be tempted to censor to sweep under the rug instead of solve real problems. Yahoo stock message boards have had their share of lawsuits, but not so much anymore.

Would you rather have a PR department decide whether to censor your comments about a company, or some third-party analyst who deals with censorship requests and uses a uniform code of conduct across all the different companies?

There ought to be a way to send an electronic message to all of the other holders of a stock that you own. But doing that without getting overwhelmed with spam is hard. One solution might be to send only subjects and urls in a once-per-day batch, restricting senders to stockholders, and allowing recipients to block further messages from certain senders (or subject keywords, if legitimate discussions get too long.)

Also, radio stations have "public files" available in their lobbies during business hours which anyone can add to by sending a letter. Should corporations be required to host something similar on the web?

Anonymous Techie on March 16, 2005 12:49 AM
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