Best Blogging Tips For PR Professionals

Because writing is such an integral part of public relations work, those in the field often make terrific bloggers. But good, crisp writing – and the inspiration that drives it – is only part of what makes a blog well-read and shareable. There are some do’s and don’ts that can make the difference between a blog that “talks to itself” and one that is a must-read. Take a look at the tips below to help take your blog to the next level.

Do blog with a purpose. Sure, many professionals feel they must have a blog now to be au courant. But there is nothing compelling about a blog that doesn’t have a consistent point of view, a distinct voice, and reason to be. Start by focusing on the ideal reader for the blog and that reader’s key interests, problems, and needs. Then, identify the top areas where you can lend expertise, insight, and opinion. The area in between is what your blog should cover.

Don’t try too hard. Wordiness, cutesiness and “high-priced” phrases need not apply. Start with simple posts that impart advice from your personal experience. The best are plain-spoken but well-crafted, easy to read but with a specific audience in mind. Remember, 99 percent of people will skim your post, so agonizing over every word is probably a waste of time.

Do give practical advice but don’t preach. Readers often look to business blogs for actionable advice that they can use in appropriate situations – in language that doesn’t “talk down” or preach. Avoid “kiss-of-death” phrases like “you should” or “always remember to.”

Don’t shy from provocative copy. In the right situation, taking the controversial or contrarian point of view is often exactly right for a blog post. don’t be reluctant to continue a conversation already started by someone else in the industry, particularly if you have something to add to that person’s post, or if you disagree with their view.  Just be sure you link to the post in question and that you maintain a respectful attitude.  A professional blogger will welcome the attention and the conversation.

Do create an editorial calendar. Treat your blog like any professional publication with a calendar that leverages seasonal activity and time periods. But don’t let the calendar limit your creativity; leaving room for what’s going on in the news and popular culture keeps the blog fresh and relevant. If you’re stumped for ideas, we like this blog post topic generator.

Do learn from bloggers who do it well. Get a good blog roll of your own encompassing other PR bloggers, B2B bloggers and just general interest. Gene Marks, who pens “Main Street Mornings” is a good example. As evidenced here, great blogs can translate to mainstream media as well.

Do follow some basic blogging rules. These include getting to know the right keywords to help encourage search; avoiding lengthy posts that no one will read and linking back to your own website where applicable. Got the basics down? Then get creative and start blogging.

5 PR Benefits Of Working With Bloggers

Often successful PR begins with the perfect pitch idea. It starts by considering all possible channels and the best ways to reach key audiences with your story. Chances are, blogs are high on the list of media targets.

Despite predictions that social networks have surpassed blogs in popularity, blogging isn’t dead. More than 42% of Americans regularly follow at least one blog.  The best bloggers have become more sophisticated, and most public relations people spend time nurturing blogger relationships. Here’s why.

Bloggers can offer “tipping point” brand visibility. A good PR campaign seeks to to tell a story to a specific audience or segment, and zeroing in on blogs that do that is job #1. For example, for our client Small Town Brewery and its products, penetrating the beer blogosphere was the best way to reach influencers in the category. There are hundreds of beer bloggers and by reaching out to those with high Alexa ratings, a healthy number of incoming links, Facebook likes and Twitter follows with samples, interviews and images, we’ve seen remarkable results.

Blog storytelling has reach. We know consumers will turn to blogs for product reviews before purchase, but it doesn’t stop there. Blogger commentary extends past its initial online platform. The most prolific bloggers re-purpose their content as part of TV interviews or contributed articles to other media. Here’s a perfect example of how blogger Lauren Greutman did just that for shopping app Retale.

Bloggers can drive a conversation. Despite the strength of social hubs like Facebook, many blogs are a two-way form of communication through robust reader participation. Through social sharing, comments and guest posts, blogs offer a targeted community that PR and Marketing teams can source for helpful real-time customer opinions. This quick and potent feedback can help shape and plan product strategy.

Bloggers build additional buzz. Blog posts can easily be shared on other social media. With newer platforms like Medium offering opportunities to place content, one post can lead many lives. Good blogger relationships encourage sharing and linking, which amplify and extend a blog post’s initial reach. These opportunities mean more readers learn about your product or service.

Blogger relationships can translate to real life. Once the initial relationship is formed with an influential blogger, odds are they will be invested in your brand. We like to find many different ways to nurture and enrich this relationship, including exclusive invitation events, retaining bloggers as paid advisers, and developing authentic relationships where we can pick up the phone (yes!) and share ideas.

For more on dealing with specialist bloggers and the communities they influence, check out Cliff’s tips for talking to top tech bloggers.

Brands With Blogs That PR Loves

When building a comprehensive public relations campaign, a smart blog is still a relevant and beneficial tool. Blogging came into its own more than a decade ago, but that doesn’t mean blogs are old news. In fact, they’re critical in setting the tone and voice of a company or brand, providing ways to inform, educate, delight, and engage. A great company blog is a key to effective brand PR as well as a tool for being discovered and building new leads.

In today’s fully evolved digital media universe, blogs need to be relevant, high quality, and useful — and it can’t hurt to be fun. Here are our picks for the best company blogs that strengthen PR programs.

Zuora. We include this to show that B2B tech businesses can have blogs that shine as brightly as the sexiest consumer brands. This well-funded software company serves companies with subscription-based business models. Its blog features company announcements as well as posts filled with tips and insights relevant to its clientele, such as a post titled “5 reasons why millennials are adopting subscriptions.” But its consistent, creative visual layout makes this company blog stand out: each post gets a custom photo adhering to an overall look. The effect adds polish and style.

Williams Sonoma. Williams Sonoma Taste is a destination blog for serious foodies, another example of a brand serving up stellar content  for the customer it wants to reach, engage, and keep for life. Content is clean and highly visual, and posts are organized neatly into helpful categories, making it easy to navigate and find the type of content you’re looking for, in a pinch.

HubSpot. The Cambridge-based company is yet another B2B force and a strong example for content marketers. Known for its inbound marketing services, Hubspot is a great resource for marketers, copywriters, PRs, and others. The frequency, clarity, and quality of HubSpot blog content — full of useful tips like this post on how to write great titles (the bane of many a writer’s existence) — helps it stand out as an authoritative voice in its industry.

Warby Parker. The darling of online startups, Warby Parker uses its company blog as an extension of the quirky brand voice it’s cultivated in just five short but highly successful years. Once again, posts are clean, visual, and well organized. Most importantly, the copy reflects the slightly off-center, fun and friendly voice fans have grown to love, even when offering a free download for its New York City themed desktop wallpaper: “Here it is for download. May it brighten your day as much as a pup finding a slice on the ground.”

Etsy. The Etsy blog is an amalgam of all things creative. It regularly features top-selling stores, providing readers with insights for their own Etsy shops, and plenty of ideas for seasonal craft projects. Adding commentary on news in the creative category — such as this post on Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book on “creative living” —  helps keep the blog relevant and shows the brand is in-the-know.

Dig deeper: For tips on avoiding blunders in your own company blog, download our tipsheet.

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11 Blogging Tips For Busy Perfectionists

“I have no time.” “What would I say?” “How could I keep it going?”

These are questions that staff, clients, and colleagues have asked about maintaining a business blog. And they’re all fair questions and objections. Blogging isn’t always easy. If it were, everyone would do it. And even though it may seem like everyone is, blogging has dipped a little since its heyday, and blogs aren’t quite the community hub that they once were.

But as outlined in a previous post, “6 Reasons PR People Should Blog,” it has many personal and professional benefits, particularly for communicators. As a follow-up, I promised some tips that have worked for me over the past six years. Because I’m not well versed in the technical aspects of blogging, and it’s a branding tool to support my PR business, it’s written from that perspective. (There’s a ton of great advice on blogging for profit, but this is not that.)

My advice is strictly based on first-hand experience, some of which may conflict with conventional wisdom, so — as they say, your mileage may vary.

Decide on your scope, and stick to it 95% of the time

My blog is naturally about PR, and I almost never deviate from the broader PR or communications industry. I’m often tempted to stray into other areas – parenting, politics, or recent experiences, good and bad, with big-brand companies. But unless there’s a clear PR hook, those topics represent a slippery slope. (Yes, customer service is increasingly linked to PR and reputation, but you can only grouse so much about the cable company.) To slide there would negate the business benefits of the blog and the reasons for investing the time.

But I say “95% of the time” because even a tightly focused business blog can handle a personal or off-topic post once in a while. I recall the first time I saw Laura Sholz’s first post about her struggle with depression, which really stayed with me, precisely because I’d only known of her updates about professional matters. But that’s an exception that proves the rule. One of my off-topic bugaboos is perfectionism, which is surprisingly common among PR professionals. (Hence, this post’s title.)

Don’t worry about an editorial calendar

I know, I know, an edcal is Rule #1, and it works for most bloggers and staff teams. For whatever reason, it’s never worked for me. I need to be reacting to another post, or the communications aspect of a news item, or an issue that’s arisen in the course of our work for clients. A schedule is not motivational for everyone.

But do keep a folder of great blog ideas and posts you envy

Or blurb a few lines into your wordpress (or other) dashboard and save them before you lose the thread. The challenging thing about blogging as a business owner is that, when inspiration strikes, you won’t necessarily be able to drop everything and pound out a post. It pays to capture key phrases and the emotions or questions that triggered the idea for the post right away.

Start in the middle

Beginnings are hard, especially for us perfectionists. It’s sometimes helpful to jump into the post and save the intro paragraph and polishing for later. Everyone skims it anyway.

Create posts that you’d read

Yes, you should consider your “target audience.” But if your first objective is simply to get moving, ignore the advice to create a “persona” through a deep analysis of your ideal prospect’s hopes, fears, dreams, and what car they drive. This works well for inbound marketing, perhaps, but if productivity is your goal, try blogging for yourself.

Take inspiration from other blogs

Some of my colleagues don’t do this, for fear they’ll be accused of copycatting. I think they’re missing the point, which is to enter the conversation. It can start with a single post and go on for days or weeks through reactive posts from different individuals. Just make sure you add something new and fresh to the dialogue, or advocate a specific point of view, and link to the original post.

Don’t be discouraged by few comments

If I had a dollar for everyone who’s told me they read or liked a post but didn’t comment, I could retire. In general, people don’t have time to comment, or they don’t have a strong feeling about adding to the conversation. Know that it’s okay if you’ll never be Brian Solis or Mark Schaefer. But you can gather inspiration from them and others (and cleverly link to them to show your good taste.)

Break it down. Less is always more

Example: I started the last post by sharing a couple of tips, then segued into reasons for PR pros to blog, then realized that it could stand alone, with tips or ideas serving as a follow-up. This happens all the time. Many posts are actually two or more, and it’s far easier to unpack a smaller, simple idea than to race to cover the map.

Don’t worry about repeating yourself

I used to steer clear of a topic for months after blogging about it for fear of being redundant until I realized two things: First, most website and blog visitors are first-timers. (Check out your site analytics if you don’t believe me.) Second, most people read or scan scores of posts weekly, so they’re unlikely to focus on a preoccupation with, say, misperceptions about PR, or the missteps of large agencies, to name two of my favorites. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should repost the same update, unless it’s clear that it’s from the archive and it’s newly relevant.

When you’re out of ideas…

Browse your industry-focused google alerts for interesting developments. Scan the top blogs in your area, trade newsletters and communities, or blogs about adjacent industries (for me, this means marketing or advertising.)  Look at your own meeting calendar and review the issues that arose in the past six months. Ask employees, clients, and vendor-partners what’s on their minds. Beg a colleague to do a guest-post. Or, write a post on trying to come up with ideas for a post. Others will relate.

Save the headline for last

I know, most people will tell you to blog to the headline, but my posts tend to wander, and why waste a perfectly good update just because it changed in the writing? I like to save the heads for later also because I invariably struggle with them, and if I wait until the headline is perfect, nothing will ever be written. You’ll note that the head above is long and bumpy, but this is about getting it done, not getting it perfect.

A final note for perfectionists (added after this post was published.) Blogging is ideal if you’re a compulsive editor. Remember, you can always update!

Tips to Whip Your Business Blog Into Spring Shape!

There are an estimated 31 million people blogging in America. That is a lot of competition for your company’s posts. Now is a good time to examine your content with fresh eyes and make sure it is “lean and mean” and relevant to a discerning audience. Ask yourself these questions and then choose a shape-up plan that works for your particular blog.

Are your topics in need of a “cleanse”? Make sure your content is working hard for your business and your blog is optimized for search with the right keywords and industry terms.  Really take some time to look at the next 3-6 months with a keen eye to topicality, trends and annual posts worth revisiting. Use futurecasting to help you come up with fresh, dynamic themes. Consider assigning some “guest bloggers” to keep things interesting.

Are your titles worn out and tired? Don’t let this happen to you. Make sure you create lively titles have essential keywords – this is what search engines  will index and place on the results page when someone is searching. Read more here.

Does your blog have a strong “core”? You need sharper editing. If you are the sole assignment editor, writer and copy editor for your blog, you may have become too close to the content and need some outside eyes to do some incisive editing for you. It only hurts for a minute but the rewards for a new, trim blog are well worth it.

Having a hard time “fitting” in your blog? Get organized and set aside the necessary time to plan, write and edit each piece. This may mean blocking out writing time on Outlook or having Siri remind you “time to blog” – any way that you do it, make it scheduled and rigorous as you would any physical exercise routine.

Does your blog need a new look? Something as simple as a font change or additional graphics can help liven the look of your blog. Interesting and thought-provoking images  keep your blog fresh and appealing.

Whatever changes you undertake to improve your posts, make sure to share the results – tweet it to your followers, share it on LinkedIn and Google Plus, publish on Facebook and email to select associates and prospects.

Tips From A New York PR Agency: Make Your Blog Stand Out

In browsing the blogosphere, one runs into quite a few examples of “blogging for blogging’s sake.” In other words, someone read in the PR handbook that a blog is a surefire way to attract eyeballs to a company’s website.

Well, it’s not. A blog has to be treated like any other part of a strategic communications plan. It should conform to specific goals and be supported by a thoughtful action plan to keep it current, meaningful and “shareworthy.”

Here are some tips:

Don’t use your blog as a commercial for your product/service. Savvy readers know the difference between a blog that smartly weaves in a mention of a product or service because it furthers the “storyline” and one that is 300 words on your company’s latest offering. The former? Good journalism. The latter? Total turn-off, and a likely Google bounce.

Do incorporate news headlines. Although you likely have an editorial calendar (if not, create one!) it’s a good idea to leave room to comment on or include real-world developments, particularly when they have bearing on your industry. For example, the President’s State of the Union address provides fodder for those in the insurance industry, employment industry and countless others to “borrow buzz” and provide a keen POV to a topical issue.  And, yes, it’s a great example of CEO message communications as well.

Don’t overlook keywords. Invest some time and resources in determining the keywords that your target audiences use to find companies like yours. Incorporate them organically into what you write. Their mention should never seem forced or artificial, but a natural part of the topics you cover and the “voice” your blog has come to acquire.

Do mention clients and other business partners. Sometimes the best way to illustrate a case history or a best practice is to cite examples where your company has had a major role. Sharing the “stage” with others, however, keeps the company humble but also illustrates skills and accomplishments. And it can increase the “shareability” of the post when other names are given shout-outs.

Don’t have too many cooks in the kitchen. With a company blog, it’s tempting to have guest bloggers and other voices within the organization share views. As egalitarian as the notion is, it is far more practical to limit writing to a handful of people. Your blog should have developed a particular voice, cadence and look which is best produced by a few who are truly invested.

Whatever changes you undertake to improve your posts this year, recognize that keeping a blog fresh and relevant takes work. Set some goals and get to it!

Writing The Shareable PR Blog Post

Crenshaw Communications’ employee blog, PR Fishbowl, recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, and we thought it a good time to look back and highlight what makes a blog readable and shareable. Here is what we found:

Find your voice. Whether your blog is snarky or sweet, find a consistent tone so “fans” know what to expect and look forward to your take on an issue or topic.

Be quick. It goes without saying to be topical, but today’s hot- button issue is tomorrow’s snooze, so filing the first blog post on a trending topic is a must! In the past year we have quickly posted the “PR POV” on breaking news such as the Susan G. Komen/Planned Parenthood Crisis, Paula Deen and her diabetes debacle and many more.

Be provocative. Take the less popular stance on an issue; point out industry foibles and expose myths. Some of our most well-read blogs took a controversial look at how a politician fared in public. (There’s no need to be partisan if your topic is the PR strategy behind the story.) Another focused on “gaffes and goofs” in PR resumes and cover letters.

Be fun. Our blogs are mostly lighthearted but when you can turn it into something fun and relatable, the audience is “in on it” with you. A good example of this was a holiday blog which took the 12 Days of Christmas and gave each “gift” a PR spin. We also produced a “Mad Libs” blog.

Be smart. Impart real knowledge and advice PR people can use as soon as they’ve finished reading. Tip lists, “do’s and don’ts”, especially those that incorporate “real life” examples, always fare well.
Finally, some practical blog advice (aha, a tip list!)

Be aware of industry keywords and use them

Link to other bloggers and websites (who will reciprocate)

Push your blog out through all your social media channels

Invite comments and always respond to those you receive

We’d love to hear any additional advice!

Ten Trends Affecting PR Professionals In 2010

Despite their overabundance this time of year, I’m a fan of lists. They impose structure and order on what is actually messy, imperfect, and disorderly. But, because I missed the 2009 list window I’ve taken a crack at identifying the major trends affecting our business and what they’ll mean in 2010 and beyond.

1.   Social and traditional media will merge. Or, the distinctions will become meaningless. I know, duh. But, for most of us, 2010 will finally see the death of the one-way communications channel. As traditional press has begun to be disintermediated, we’ll be “relating” directly to our publics as often as not. Social media will be so integrated through our programs that the very term will be anachronistic – it’s all media. And, we need to be knowledgeable not only about online media, but about the emerging social trends – social gaming, social shopping, and new forms of viral content.

2.   Content will be king – if it’s relevant, compelling, and searchable. In a sense, traditional journalists and PR professionals have been trading roles. As more journalists cross over into PR, we PR professionals are broadening our conventional job description to the point where we can be an online and offline content resource to complement – or even rival – “old” media. The trick is to ratchet up our output to make fresh, relevant, compelling content a daily creative product.

3.   Quality will become scarcer. With the explosion of blogs and user-generated content, it’s awfully hard to find the good stuff. That means communications professionals must step into the void as the quality content resource, at every level. Every member of the account team is producing, posting, updating, high-quality material. It also means that old-fashioned research and reporting skills and adherence to journalistic rigor (e.g., fact-checking) will be prized.

4.   Consumer expectations are higher than ever. They’re in control, the’re using social media as a megaphone, and they expect brands and companies to deliver on their promises. Increasingly, customers also expect brands to stand for something beyond their own attributes. According to, “smart marketers will identify and capitalize on unmet expectations.”

5.   Everything must be targeted – or targetable. Micro-targeting is the watchword for 2010. News, content, and entertainment are increasingly personalized. And, with original content needing to be as mashable, adapable, and “spreadable” as possible for users, mapping back to brand strategy is critical. So is in-depth knowledge of our increasingly fragmented audiences.

6.   Reputation is more fragile than ever. With the rise of Social Media, previously tangential areas like customer service, retail environment, and word-of-mouth are a huge part of the brand conversation – and its reputation. Couple that with the speed of real-time search, and it amounts to a very high bar for strategic smarts, crisis preparedness, and rapid mobilization.

7.   Everything will be measurable. Increasingly, PR professionals must be familiar with current analytics and measurement tools if we’re to justify our budgets and collaborate with marketers. We’ll also work more with SEO experts as brand and corporate reputation looms larger on the social Web. In fact, Daryl Tay of Blue Interactive feels that sentiment analysis will become more important to future marketers, which means we need to move beyond strictly automated metrics that don’t capture nuances of language or a reputational threat.

8.   But, how we measure up will take many forms. According to the Mobile Marketing Association, marketing results will be evaluated not just in recommendations, but in eyeballs, shakes and finger swipes. The number of blogs, articles, tweets and diggs. The number of acquisitions, conversions, calls, responses or purchases. Check-ins on foursquare and check-outs on Amazon.”

9.  News and content will be increasingly mobile. More and more news, content, and entertainment will be accessed via smartphones and other mobile devices. This has implications not only for the quality and length of what we produce, but for how we reach and engage with consumers and media. And the rise of geolocation services offers opportunities for marketing and PR professionals, not only for enhancing the relevance of our content, but for event marketing and PR-driven promotions.

10. Influencers will have more influence. Influencer marketing will be bigger than ever in 2010. The vaunted relationship component of what we do will be more complex and more interesting, particularly if more online communities and social networks go behind walls to behave like exclusive clubs. So, we not only have to find the influencers for every category, we need to be them.

Zappos And The Social Media Myth

It’s a common perception that Zappos, which was just acquired by, was able to build its brand, and even its business, on the strength of social media.  After all, CEO Tony Hsieh is a Twitter celebrity with over a million followers.  Zappos encourages its employees to Twitter, and more than 400 do. A model of transparency, it aggregates public mentions on a page on its website.  No wonder it’s been hailed by traditional and social media as the one company that does it right.  One writer even opined that Amazon was motivated to acquire Zappos to get a little of its “social media stardust.”

That’s nonsense. The soul of Zappos, and the open secret of its success, has nothing to do with Twitter. It bears remembering that long before Hsieh tweeted his first update, Zappos had taken the lead in the online shoe market. Hsieh’s really big idea wasn’t showing his personal side on Twitter.  It was making returns a competitive advantage. It was, in essence, beating Amazon at its own game. It was focusing, really focusing, on the customer.  And, to Zappos, customers are not only shoppers, but employees and vendors, too.

If you search for articles and posts about Hsieh and Zappos long prior to 2008, when he opened his celebrated Twitter account, your eyes will glaze over at the numbing repetition of its customer service mantra. Hsieh describes the employee recruiting and training program, including the counter-intuitive “quitting bonus,” as shaping a customer service culture. He philosophizes about transparency, openness, and authenticity – all in service of the customer, of course.  He, and the partners who back him, take the long view on the company’s ultra-liberal returns policy, betting that no investment is too great if it supports customer retention.

Basically, Hsieh did two things very, very well. He articulated a customer-obsessed culture. Then, he walked the talk. Social media came naturally for Zappos later because the company never looked at it as a marketing channel, but as another way of building customer relationships and adding service.  In essence, the shoe fit.

Jeff Bezos doesn’t give a rap about Zappos’ social media profile. As Bezos himself said in describing its customer service obsession, “It is the place where Zappos begins and ends.”  I’m hoping that, for Zappos, this is a new beginning, and not an end.

The Social Media Revolution That Wasn’t

In the wake of controversial election results in Iran, there’s been much discussion about the role of social media in communicating popular sentiment among the rank and file there. Mashable reports “mindblowing” statistics on Twitter, claiming evidence that social media has been at the nexus of the Iranian unrest.

But, does Tiananmen Square + Twitter = Tehran? It’s very cool to think that #Cnnfail – the protests of the Twitterverse about what it viewed as insufficient coverage of the election and its aftermath on CNN – might have accelerated the traditional media’s reporting on the events in Iran. But, social media’s being credited with much more. Some have hailed “the end of totalitarianism.”  The Vancouver Sun describes #TwitterIran as “the central battlefield for the early stages of what looks like a revolution in Iran.” That’s exhilarating stuff.

Yet, it’s not true, at least not in the way we would wish. Social and digital media have sharpened the focus of the world outside Iran on the massive post-election demonstrations, and the pictures and text messages that have emerged are very moving.  The fact is, however, that the overwhelming majority of those living in Iran lack access to those reports, and it’s naïve to think they’re fomenting protest.
For Iranians, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Friendfeed, and other social networks remain blocked.

Transmission of SMS text messaging through mobile phone networks is impossible. Internet access via satellite is shut down. Some within Iran have been able to get messages out through proxies, and the real heroes may be the hackers.  But, it’s a narrow slice at best. There’s also the fact that, even in ordinary times, social media is used by the young, urban, and privileged…not the masses.  The tweets and texts that have emerged from Tehran represent a very narrow slice of the Iranian population.

So, where’s CNN in all this?  It’s there, of course. But, since its journalists are forbidden to leave their bureau, it had to make do with Christiane Amanpour’s stand-ups, re-runs of her last interview with Ahmadinejad, and assorted talking heads. (Many don’t realize that the protests 20 years ago at Tiananmen Square were captured by CNN because it had permission from the Chinese government to report on a schedule visit by Mikhail Gorbachev. It was a lucky break – if you can call it that – that the cameras were rolling as the tanks rolled in.)

No such luck in Iran. And while the CNN-watching Twitterers demonstrated its ability to harness and focus media criticism, it also proved that the real credibility still rests with “traditional” media – yep, the journalists who actually travel to the site of the action, often at considerable risk and expense, to try to get their story.