Companies have more respect for hostile bloggers

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Companies have more respect for hostile bloggers

Survey suggests firms try harder when bloggers don't trust them.

Western bloggers, who have little trust for corporations, are much more likely to win cooperation from businesses, according to new research comparing bloggers' behaviour in Japan and the West.

Surveys of bloggers' attitudes found that bloggers in the US and Europe generally do not trust communications from companies, while Japanese bloggers do.

Only five per cent of Western bloggers consider corporate press releases trustworthy sources of information about products, but more than 60 per cent of Japanese bloggers believe they are reliable.

But corporations apparently try much harder to reach untrusting Western bloggers, and make much less effort to communicate with their more trusting counterparts in Japan.

Corporations are twice as likely to make regular attempts to contact Western bloggers, with 20 per cent of blog owners saying they received some kind of corporate communication at least once a week, compared to only 10 per cent of Japanese bloggers.

The findings come from online surveys conducted by public relations firm Edelman, and blog search site Technorati. 

It is unclear from the survey how much of the geographic difference in relationships between bloggers and corporations arises from existing regional variations in corporate policy, and how much is being driven by bloggers' behaviour.

When searching for information about products, Western bloggers are extremely suspicious of official data and put much more faith in information from other bloggers.

Again, Japan's bloggers are markedly different: only 15 per cent consider other bloggers trustworthy, compared to some 63 per cent in the West.

Western bloggers also ranked employee blogs as more trustworthy than official company blogs and information sources, while Japanese bloggers took the opposite view.

Edelman's survey did show at least one clear similarity between Western and Japanese bloggers: they have even less trust for PR agencies and ad agencies than they do for companies.

For example, some 27 per cent of Japanese bloggers rated corporate emails that came direct from companies as trustworthy, but if the email came from a PR agency representing the firm, only 6.1 per cent considered it trustworthy.

In comments attached to their survey of Western bloggers, the researchers noted that blogging is forcing changes in corporate communications methods.

"The role of corporate communications must change. At the most strategic level, communications must work to identify and cultivate the most credible, trustworthy and passionate evangelists within a company," said the Edelman report.

"The key issue is trust: a company may sacrifice a great degree of control over its message, but gain incredible insights into its relevant communities.

"For those bloggers who seek interaction with a company, the clear preference (35 per cent) is for an employee who blogs."

Edelman pointed out that the survey methodology was not scientific, as the respondents were self-selecting.

The company also said that the Japanese and Western surveys were not conducted at the same time and did not feature identical questions on all topics, so comparisons between them may not always be reliable.

The Western survey was carried out in September 2005, and questioned 821 self-declared bloggers from the US and Europe. The Japanese survey took place during the past few months, and questioned 213 Japanese bloggers.
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