There’s an article in today’s Toronto Star that I would like to claim a bit of responsibilty for. As it happens, I emailed the reporter in question regarding the apparent disconnect between the Environics numbers recently released and an earlier Ipsos-Reid poll on the number of Canadians blogging. She called back and we had a nice chat on the phone about blogging. The result?
Depending on whose figures you believe, somewhere between 30 and 40 per cent of adult Internet users in Canada have read at least one blog in recent months.
(I know it’s not much – but I had to run to a client meeting and she was going to call me for a follow-up quote, which sadly never happened).
But I digress. I would also like to add to the above figure the 67.9% internet usage rate in Canada (21-odd million people). So that basically translates into almost one third of all Canadians having read a blog at some point. That’s a pretty steep adoption curve.
In the article was also quoted Bruce MacLellan, president of Environics Communications. Bruce and his firm have been hired to monitor the blogosphere on behalf of one of his clients, and he says
You need to know how blogging is changing your reputation and the way people get information about your products and services.
Bruce? I posted critically about those Environics blogging numbers seven days ago. Not one person from your firm visited this blog after having searched on the word “environics” (though someone from a rival PR firm in New York City did). Just so you know.
I was intrigued by your earlier post about Environics after reading the Star story earlier this morning. Environics is a competitor to the firm I work at. We’re even in the same building. They are a good firm and do great work as far as I know.
However, I was just about to comment on your previous post to make the same point you did. Nobody from Environics Communications blogs themselves or even seems to be tracking their own company’s rep in the blogosphere, or they would have been all over your previous post.
I know I track our firm’s mentions throughout the blogosphere as I do for all of my clients and would have been here to set the record straight, or posted on my blog and trackbacked to your post.
I don’t like to trash my competitors, but I’m worried that the whole blogging and PR thing is about to jump the shark (a title for a post I’m toying with based on the Star article today.) When PR firms with no real presence or expertise in the blogosphere start talking like experts, get quoted in the paper and end up generating a PR agency feeding frenzy, it will make all of us look bad.
Now, I’m not naive enough to think there won’t be opportunists who talk a good game to sell something hot to their clients. I just hope all those firms that are late to the party can actually walk the talk.
I had precisely the same kind of misgivings about that Star article, and then a friend of mine pointed out something even more curious.
There’s no easy way of raising this concern without appearing to be poking at a competitor. It’s also, inevitably, going to involve some poking at Dana Flavelle.
So – for the record, before I start: I like Environics, think highly of their people, and have even referred clients their way in the past (when I wasn’t agency side, natch). I also like Dana’s work. A lot. She is, to my mind, one of the most interesting reporters working in Canada right now.
Having said all that, here’s the poke. Let’s just check the list of sources quoted in that piece, shall we?
Bruce McClellan: President, Environics
David MacDonald: President, Environics Research
Jordan Banks: eBay Canada, an Environics client
Roger Hamshaw: Fusepoint, an Environics client
Um… anyone else seeing a pattern here?
The other thing that really bothered me (apart from the obvious “Er, Bruce – where’s your blog?” thought), was this comment:
“The best rule of thumb is to write as though your identity could be revealed at any moment, MacLellan said.”
Unless I’m wilfully misinterpreting this point, it seems that what Bruce is saying is that blogging is typically a case of obfuscated identity. This is clearly a concept entirely in conflict with the nature of blogging.
The thought that one should write from a mindset of complete candour and transparency is muddled up in there somewhere – but the very fact that the way it is stated assumes an anonymous/pseudonymous approach to be the norm – that’s just icky.
Appreciate your insights and ability to get a lot of people talking. I will certainly check in on your blog from time-to-time in the future. I sure hope someone from Environics does too!