What can we learn from John Prescott?


John Prescott


The current furore over the role of bloggers in the attacks on John Prescott has shown the growing impact of blogging in the UK. The response by journalists, such as BBC’s Nick Robinson, has also highlighted the contention and misconception between the established order and the new social media. Some journalists perhaps view bloggers as a threat to their position as the conduit for news and information. What will their role be in the future if people can do a quick search on Google for whatever they want to know? (‘Collaborative journalism’ is the new buzz word but I’ll save that for a later post).

The exposure bloggers have been able to gain also demonstrates a transition in the way news and information is delivered. Now anyone can be a knowledge and information provider. The exposure created by the attacks on John Prescott has taught us that even a single blogger can compete with national newspapers in driving a story if what they have to say is of value.

The bloggers Iain Dale and ‘Guido Fawkes’ have been responsible for breaking a number of national headlines. Cherie Blair’s ill advised signing of the Hutton report, the cash for peerages issue and Charles Kennedy’s drinking habits were all major news stories first aired on their blog pages. They are performing a role reversal by having the national media write about their stories rather than the other way around.

I think there is little doubt that they both have a political agenda to push. As Conservative party members they would love to unsettle the Labour government with Prescott’s scalp. But they are still bound by the same libel laws as everybody else. Its hypocritical of some journalists to accuse them of making unsubstantiated claims when the national media routinely use phrases such as ‘alleged’ and ‘we are led to believe’.

In the US political bloggers have wielded significant influence for a number of years.   John Kerry’s election campaign was severely crippled by the ‘Swift Boat Veterans for Truth’ and bloggers have also exposed how George Bush’s war record was based on forged documents. The damage done to Prescott’s deteriorating image by political bloggers shows how they are finally starting to make themselves heard in this country.

So how does this relate to your business? Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes have simply shown how the means to publish is no longer the sole domain of large scale corporations. They were able to gain exposure and compete with multi-million pound enterprises in the provision of news and information.

Your business can achieve the same by starting to publish about yourself and your industry. The smallest enterprise can gain the largest exposure online.

Blogging in this country is growing all the time and being talked about in the national media. Traditional press organisations are now taking notice of what is happening in the blogosphere. It won’t be long now before industry publications have to start doing the same as more businesses start talking to their marketplaces.

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