Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Readership Dilemma

Jerry Springer and Rush Limbaugh get it. So do Jim Cramer and Dick Vitale.

To attract a significant following in today’s noisy, media and blog-saturated world one has to express controversial views, delivered in a loud and boisterous style.

Perhaps that’s what the editorial staff at New Yorker magazine had in mind when they signed-off on a cover illustration that depicts Barack Obama in a turban, fist-bumping his gun-slinging wife. Whether you believe it's “tasteless and offensive” like Obama’s campaign or merely misinterpreted satirical humor like New Yorker editor David Remnick, the resulting uproar has delivered a level of attention and significance the magazine has not had in years.

New Yorker Obama Cover Sparks Uproar

Most bloggers understand the readership dilemma all too well. The competition for attention is fierce with Technorati now tracking more than 110 million blogs. As a result, the blogosphere often digresses into a shouting match of hysterical voices promoting their respective views and agenda.

Into this mess walks the corporate executive blogger. How can a company garner readership and visibility for its thought leadership using an approach that is consistent with its brand image?

Our counsel to clients is to side-step controversy, and focus efforts on developing relevant, engaging and entertaining content tailored to the needs of specific target audiences. Expressing opinions in a clear and well-articulated fashion is a must, as is promoting blog content through a mix of social media and traditional PR channels. Yet, the benchmark for success should be quality of readers, rather than quantity.

Recently, I had two prospects comment on my blog posts during pitch meetings. One agreed with my thinking, while another felt I was off-base in my assessment of the value of micro-blogging platforms. Both are now current agency clients.

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