How can you control what is said about you on the world wide web? There is one simple answer: You cannot! Everyone is free to write about you, your dog, your company and all other things they can think of. There are some legal restrictions due to racism and such, but on the whole, you can say what you want. And you can count upon others to listen. If you have something interesting to tell, others will somehow find that information. Furthermore, they will possibly agree with you, follow your advice, rally with you, etc.

For companies, this can offer great advantages, but it can also criple them. There are lots of cases and examples where companies did not pay attention to what was said about them, which was a fatal error. In other cases, such as with the Dell Hell blogger Jeff Jarvis created, a company is at first oblivious as to what is happening. Luckily some of them get smart and use the commotion to shake up the organisation and come out a winner. The example about Dell dates back to 2005, but imagine the online force one can amass in this day and era with blogs, social networking, twitter and all those other online outlets. Take BP’s latest affair involving the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig collapse: even months after the event people cannot stop talking about it. Some of it is mean and unreasonable, some of it is just and exactly to the point and others make a mockery about it such as the BPGlobalPR Twitter account, which is quite funny (even for such a terrible event). I am not defending nor attacking these kind of activities, but I only want to make the point that people are telling things about the company and others are listening. That this is an important factor is proven by research done into the concept of advocacy, which tells us that 45% of the people actively engage in promoting (or detracting) brands, ideas, companies, etc. and thereby influence about 150 people each. As blogs and other digital media are prime communication platforms, this makes a good approach to digital media crucial for every organisation. Consumers and other stakeholders will all benefit from clear communications from a company. The other way round, every company can use the information they get from people talking about them to improve their products and services. In the world of PR and marketing, digital media are still becoming more and more important.

This finally leads to the explanation as to why I have started this blog. For my master thesis, I will be researching digital media in connection with reputation management, as well as the function and effects of corporate and CEO blogging. It is my aim to keep blogging about my findings, because (1) I sincerely hope I can contribute to the existing theory about digital media (even in a limited field of study) and (2) I think you cannot really investigate blogging without blogging yourself. Time can only tell if how this will work out…