A Marketing Sherpa case study with Gayle Christensen, FedEx's Director of Global Brand Management, highlighted eight steps the company took to smooth the transition in the public eye and retain/acquire market share.
What caught my eye was "Step #6. Set up interviews with bloggers" (quoting in italics):
High-profile people (e.g., new chief executives) should do interviews with bloggers, trade publications, and other media outlets to address weak speculations and preclude skepticism, says Norman. "You have to engage folks who are writing about you," he says. "If you are not engaged, you concede the control of the message to them."
Find out who's talking about the merger on social media outlets, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or niche online forums and blogs. Search for the merging companies' names or set up an email alert, such as Google Alerts, for the company and brand names.
Make a point to comment on blogs or social media sites talking about the merger, especially if something is false.
I'm fascinated that setting up interviews with bloggers warrants a main headline, while traditional media is mentioned but glossed over in the paragraph. It shows how far we've come that bloggers are considered opinion molders, while traditional journalists are barely noticed. This is a growing trend, I think, and it has many implications for how we (as a society) deliver and digest news.
I'm a big believer in citizen journalism, including the blogosphere (I've blogged since 2004, after all), and participate actively in social media.
Still, I question the decision to pretty much ignore the mainstream press. There's also a place for the trained and skilled journalist, who knows how to ask deep questions, has a really strong BS detector, and understands the importance of telling a story that encompasses multiple points of view. I, for one, am not ready to give that up just yet.
But I also note that for many years, some "mainstream" journalism outlets have had a very clear point of view, and have thrown objectivity out the window. While in recent years we've seen this very dramatically with, for instance, the strong right-wing bias of Fox News or the somewhat less strong liberal tilt of NBC, even during the golden news decade of the 1970s, there were news outlets such as New Hampshire's Manchester Union-Leader that were unabashedly partisan and sharply opinionated.
With huge budget cutbacks, bean counters making policy decisions, and corporate ownership sometimes casting a pall over the selection of stories and the decisions about how much resources to use in pursuing them, the future of professional news gathering looks a bit shaky from here. I hope it pulls out in the clutch. It's an important perspective, despite its flaws, and we'd be poorer for losing it.