Let’s face it: If I wanted to, I could post a blog entry detailing a plan that the U.S. Treasury wants to implement to replace the U.S. dollar with the peanut. I could even make up quotes and cite them to unnamed sources in an attempt to make the post look legit.
But even though it looked professional, it would still beg the obvious question: do you believe it?
Chances are, you wouldn't.
Because I lack the ‘street cred’ that comes with years of proven, newsworthy material.
As an information-starved reader, you would likely dismiss it and move on, save for the 20 seconds it took you to tweet to your followers about the crazy rumor you read.
But let it be known that as a public relations professional, identifying who is and isn’t credible is going to become an important question asked of our industry as more and more print newspapers cut, or eliminate, staff.
Judging by what a group of reporters at the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News intend to do to keep their journalistic spirit alive, it’s not unreasonable to think that more and more laid-off reporters and out-of-work journalists will turn to the already muddied waters of the Internet to get their voices heard.
Since they’ll want to retain the credibility they enjoyed when their words appeared in print, they’ll look to us for assistance.
It then becomes our job to not only continue that relationship, but also to discover where our client message will get the maximum exposure. These new sites might be in their infancy, but we will be tasked with accurately expressing to our client that they should reach out with their message and justify influence, even though their current metrics don’t, at least on the surface, compare to a local paper’s.
As this transformation continues, the days of blogs getting away with providing rumor-fueled "news" to their readers will be limited. Readers will prefer the sites that offer them solid information and will increasingly take lazy bloggers to task. (Or, stop reading them.)
Essentially, they'll expect the same set of standards from the people providing the information as they did when they could hold their words in their hand.
It’s up to us to help deliver it.