Looking at the evolution of this blog over the last few years, and it has been one of transition from scarcity to abundance of events and subjects.
A few years ago it was rare to find events to write about. I was shareholder of less than half a dozen companies and was attending as many AGM’s as possible, and I was able to reach out to family and friends like @coldtusker for proxies to attend a dozen more AGM’s or investor briefings of companies with small registers.
Requests to company registrars for access to attend briefings were often stone walled and rejected with various answers like ‘what is a blog?’ ‘We only allow media’ i.e. TV radio newspaper. The distinction between blogger and journalists is not new and is not going away.
The scarcity largely changed around 2010 as a new gatekeeper emerged, in the form of branding and PR agencies that handled ‘media’ relations for many listed and unlisted companies. This was common at those with budgets to push out their products from new tariffs, new shares & IPO’s, new products, but also to re-brand old or existing products & services. They PR people were about awareness, and creating attention, buzz, and conversation about the brands they oversaw, and recognized that online space – blogs, and lately twitter were ways to reach a diverse audience.
The agency that brands the company, and does PR recognize the online presence of an event or story for what it can do – better search placement, better archiving & retrieval for years to come) – and so the more press the better.
A recent article this week point out to a trend in the US where, to some extent, PR is replacing news as the gatekeepers of corporate world. This also partly happens here where many newspaper stories are actually repackaged press releases, readily disseminated by PR teams and summarized from complex to simple phrases to be instantly re-broadcast in a variety of channels.
The Probulica article lists the positives and negative of the PR vs. journalist trend, but for me, it means more opportunities than I can take up, several press releases, and invitations to events (sometimes 2 or 3 in a day) with the expectation that there will be some reciprocal coverage. I may not use everything, but I try and give feedback to the agency that monitors the brand or to the company itself. With the press releases, it may soon be a good idea to dedicate a blog area for press releases like Ratio magazine has done.
Payoff? Nah: Corporate blogging does not pay the bills in this part of the world, but it does get access that can be vital. In addition, new (online only) platforms have emerged like Rich.co.ke and Ratio Magazine which demonstrate that well structured analytic platforms can attract audiences, advertising, and funding.