Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Ignoring the surveys

Let's not make too much of the latest study by Forrester Research stating only 6% of Americans have read blogs and only 2% use RSS. Give it two weeks and someone else will come out saying 25% of Americans have created their own podcast or that 70% of the state of Rhode Island subscribes to Steve Rubel's RSS feed. These are meaningless if you are a decision maker or communications professional.

What's important isn't the percentage of the population is reading a blog, it's what share of your audience is reading your blog. More than that, it's what share of your audience is looking for information on your company or client. When you know those numbers you can plan how to better reach them with the message you want them to see. You know how you do that? By engaging in a conversation.

If they're looking for RSS feeds, figure out how you can provide them. If they're looking for e-mail notifications, talk to them about what they want in those e-mails? Make a variety of delivery methods available so each person can get the information they want in a way that suits their needs. Just like not all journalists want to be contacted in the same manner, not all the members of any group are going to have a one-size fits all universal preference.

PR and communications professionals would do well to stop wringing their hands over the habits of the many and concentrate on, as Shel Holtz put it, "skating to where the puck will be", meaning being ahead of the curve. Holtz uses the analogy when talking about RSS but it's a concept that has broader application potential. Where the puck will be is where your customers or other stake holders are. Look there, and figure out where they're going, and you'll be much more effective in your communciations efforts.

UPDATE

See, this is why I stopped paying attention to surveys. ComScore reports roughly 1 in 6 Americans have visited blogs in the first quarter of 2005. That's about 16.5% which - and I'm not even a math wizard - is more than Forrester's reported 6%.