The Changing Influence Game

I was trading emails the other day with someone in the "old media" world, who suggested that he had not yet quoted a blogger in a story, but might consider doing so in the future. I'd wager with anyone who is interested that this is a trend that we're going to start to see – and probably sooner than you think. It's one which Vinnie Merchandani has written quite a bit about recently. It's worth reading his recent experience while researching news stories: "The editorial team at TechSpend was finding industry analysts and consultants were taking a long time to return phone calls. So I suggested we leverage my network of bloggers ... Technology vendors, [it is] time to quit procrastinating about key bloggers in your space -- make them part of your information sharing and influence plans. You want them to be informed of your side of the story when resources like TechSpend and other publications call on them for quotes. With time to print shrinking dramatically, bloggers are likely to be quoted more than traditional industry observers."

I'd same say that one of the main reasons that the mainstream media in the tech world has not aggressively quoted bloggers is that many pubs consider bloggers a potential threat from a revenue / advertising standpoint. Others openly question the motives and editorial objectivity of bloggers. But this argument is such a crock. I can't tell you how many times I've been on a sales call (and heard stories about) analyst firms who more than imply that they'll provide interaction and coverage if a vendor signs on the doted line. Just the other day, a rep at a big name firm in the analyst world blatantly told someone at a Spend Management vendor that I know well that his company would receive coverage and more of a chance to influence the lead analyst covering the sector if they joined as a client. Whether this is true or not, this is how reps in the analyst world have sold to vendors for decades. The threat of non-coverage (or worse) is subtle, if not completely implied.

In my view, bloggers have much to offer from an opinion perspective, and for the most part, are more objective than many industry analyst firms where dollars can peddle influence behind the scenes in many murky ways. Trust me on this -- I've made far more advising companies over the years on optimizing analyst spend than blogging. Fortunately, the group of bloggers Vinnie cites in his entry are some of the people I respect most in the technology and services world. I think we'll be hearing more from all of them in the future, as the influence game is changing, which is something some folks -- even well paid advisors on the subject -- are too out of touch to admit.

Jason Busch

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