A controversial article by Paul Boutin came out on the Wired Website yesterday. In a nutshell, it pretty much said blogging is no longer relevant; all the cool kids have headed to greener pastures like twitter and facebook and those of us who are hoping to use blogs for markeitng purposes should pack up our tents and go home. His main beef was that the blogosphere is no longer “a freshwater oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought.” Instead, it has been hijacked by marketers and commercial enterprises with professional writers that have turned them into online magazines.
On the one hand, he’s got a point. Clearly blogging isn’t what it used to be back in the day. But is that a bad thing? I find a lot of value in some of the blogs on Technorati’s top 100 list like treehugger,engadget and various New York Times blogs. Obviously a lot of other people find these next-generation, more professionally-written blogs beneficial as well – that’s why they are on top. From a PR and marketing standpoint, this is a good thing.
Perhaps most interesting is that the article itself, as it appears on Wired.com (complete with an RSS feed and a place to provide comments) is nearly indistinguishable from a blog post. Granted, this is one of Paul’s points, but the whether the piece is an online magazine article or a blog post doesn’t really matter. What is important is the impact the story has. In this case, only a few hours after it was written the article was e-mailed to me by an associate. Moments later, I came across a mention of it on a former colleague’s Facebook page, where he directed readers to his own blog. There he discusses the piece at length. A quick online search shows that plenty of other bloggers are writing about it as well. In my mind, this demonstrates the viability of blogging AND online magazines.
Of course, for marketers who want to stay on the cutting edge, we mustn’t dismiss the point that Paul is really making – that things are always in a state of flux. We constantly need to keep track of where all the cool kids have gone and we need to figure out appropriate and “authentic” ways to follow them. This is what helps make PR and marketing in today’s world so exciting. Yes, it can be confusing. Yes, the penalty is high if you are among the first to commit a major new media blunder. But the rewards are equally great.