By - Hesmel Faznee Faisal

The International Association of Business Communication (IABC) has organized a forum entitled Blogging Explosion and the Impact on Corporate Relations, held in Kuala Lumpur Hilton, KL Sentral, in conjunction with the IABC Malaysia Silver Quill Awards. The main purpose of the forum was to identify, share and apply an effective way of communication practices by the main communication companies.

Among the panel of speakers for the forum was Mr. Jeff Ooi, a blogger and the pro-tem Vice President of National Alliance of Bloggers (All-Blogs), former news editor Robert Ho, who is now the Principal Communications Counsel for DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd; and Nick Wreden, CEO of Fusion Brand, who is a branding expert with more than 20 years of branding and technology experience with Fortune 500 and other top companies. He is also the author of the best-seller, FusionBranding: How To Forge Your Brand for the Future.

The session was moderated by Astro’s news anchor and a fellow blogger, Amir Mahmood Razak. The moderator had started the session with a question on the number of bloggers in the world.

According to Jeff, based on the number of registered bloggers by Technorati, there are approximately 71 million bloggers and it is increasing rapidly all over the world. Jeff also believed Information Minister, Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin was the person indirectly promoting blogging in Malaysia. According to him, the Ministry was responsible in giving names to bloggers and they are often being potrayed as an anti establishment group. Jeff also feels that there are good blogs that accommodate good and reliable news for the public.

Wreden also agreed on the blogging phenomenon and according to him, as the mass media descends into semi-irrelevance, blogging is ascending. He believed that branding executives must pay full attention on blogging and could distribute their story to blogs, for much the same reasons that they have sought to distribute their story to print, radio and TV media. Blog can also be used as an effective corporate and communications tools. “It is advisable”, said Wreden “to use blogs as a new periscope that can provide insights into what customers, prospects and even the disenchanted are saying about offerings”.

Robert Ho from DiGi Communication finds blogging as one of the effective ways to gain inside public opinion. It can offer variety through comments, as well as criticism towards certain issues mounted, pertaining to the product services by the company. He also shared his opinion about blogs. The public, should value blogging as one of the new channel of communication. It can offer unrestricted feedback for consumers.

The biasness which exists in the mainstream media, according to Jeff differed from the main scope of the story. He strongly believed that the public shouldn’t just rely on it. He adds, to main role of mainstream media is actually spins doctors for the Government and can often lead to a different perception, towards certain news that has been published.

According to him, there is a necessity for the public to have alternative news such as blogging. He also points out the advantage of blogging, where people can channel their feedback through comments, available in blogs.

Jeff also pointed out the urgent need for alternative news source to the public and the initiative taken by Raja Petra Kamaruddin in providing it to the masses through his website Malaysia Today, has bear a fruitful result. The website has managed to attract more than 1,000,000 hits and it has created a new perception towards mainstream news for the general public.

According to Wreden, all product based companies should start to use blogs as another medium to gain information on public opinion, which is related to their own product, should be made. He also felt the risk for companies if they didn’t’ respond to any of the comments being addressed in the blog by the company responsible to it.

According to Robert, a special team has been set up in DiGi entrusted on monitoring and gathering information through blogs on the latest trends, available in the market and problems arises for the public, relating to DiGi. He also sees blogs can represent certain groups or individuals in any issues pertaining to them. He also adds blogging can be able to create awareness or an exposure to a certain issue raised by the authorities or the public.

During the Q&A session, many questions from the floor were related to the journalism ethics and whether a blogger can be considered as a reporter, or how a blogger legitimate the information or source gathered from their source. Mr. Jeff says everybody should realize that there are certain policy a blogger should adhered to. Among others, they should respect other opinions and should be responsible on their writings.

Some bloggers are not trained as journalist and there are times when problems arises on aspects such as the validity of news and how it is been reinterpreted by the blogger. Mr. Wreden also pointed out that blogging has become a new media in journalism and the purpose of media is to have a relation with users. As a conclusion, all panel agreed that blogging either contribute to the public as a new medium of communication or can misled the public into believing something that is reported out of the context.

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Darryl Tay berkata…
Yes, blogging can either be a legit source of news or a misleading article of writing. Either way, the reader should understand that whatever’s written in a blog post is an opinion unless stated otherwise. They are mostly subjective, which means that we are free to accept or reject them.

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