Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Seafood blogging

Consider that there are now nine million people publishing blogs, with 40,000 new publishers every day. There is no limit to how much you can post on a blog, whether written matter, photos, video, of voice. You've got Moblogging, or mobile blogging; posting to your blog on the go from a mobile device. You've got Vlogging, or video blogging, which is posting of videos. And Podcasting is creating your own radio show and delivering it through your blog. You may not be as brave as Microsoft who just started a video blog in April, or Paris Hilton who just started podcasting to promote a new movie. But it's not hard to do, I knew nothing of all this until I just started doing it this winter on a hunch that it was going someplace.

A publishing conference I attended this winter had a workshop on blogging. The message was that if you wanted to get anything published, it is highly recommended that you start a blog so people can see who you are. Publishers are busy people and if you are lucky enough to get face to face with one, you might have only sixty seconds to give your speel. I've been to more fisheries conferences than you can shake a stick at and you don't have much more time to make a point there either. That's why newcomers go into a conference and find out that everyone has already made up their minds. Things take a lot of hashing out and there isn't time to do it all at a stand-up public forum. There just isn't time to hear everyone's reasoning. A lot of good folks aren't comfortable speaking in public, like 85% of us, so an awful lot of folks can't get a crack at putting in their two bits.

As Business Week says, "Companies over the past few centuries have gotten used to shaping their message. Now they're losing control of it." A poll by Reuters News Service showed that blogging is neck and neck with traditional media in the amount of influence it has. That's staggering in light of being able to measure the lifespan of blogging's influence in months.

I think blogging would be a great boon to the Alaska fishing industry if industry writers linked together, and new credible voices were linked as well. (You have to ask someone if they will put your URL on their blog as a link, unless they are looking for good web sites and blogs to put in their link list. It's just accepted that you would agree by virtue of having a presence on the Internet.) Maybe there aren't any major hurtles that anyone wants to talk about, maybe all opportunities are already on the table for fishermen and processors to sort through, maybe the industry is on the right track now. (Personally I don't believe that.) But if the industry isn't blogging it's missing out. Business Week thinks blogging isn't a business elective, but a prerequisite.

Companies hire people to blog for them to create a buzz around their products. Companies and industry associations hire people to search out blogs about their products, their industry and what the competition is doing, and make reports and blogs on what they have found. It's a whole lot cheaper than flying all the way over to Halifax to see what someone is doing like I did one time.

We could have been discussing all those white elephants the state of Alaska birthed through the years on behalf of the fishing industry. Your average fisherman I think would be apalled if he knew how many tens of millions of dollars has been spent for their sakes that never put a penny in their pockets. There has been Capital Matching Grants, Alaska Science and Technology grants (the dead sources), and now we can talk about the live ones.

Rules governing print and telecast information has become profoundly regimented. Not true of blogging. It's the wild, wild west. But how bad can it get compared to print media and television? News anchors getting laid off for lying, newpapers holding mandatory "philosophy sessions" on Saturdays. Blogs are governed by the inherent futility of hanky-panky because the readership doesn't pay for viewing and they can just not go back to that blog again. But blogging is growing and maybe between a blog and maybe a X-Box 360 you won't need to do anything new for a long time.

There has never been a marketing tool as fast and effective as blogging. The breakthrough that has made this possible for the most part is RSS, or Really Simple Syndication. It's a search engine program that searches the web for key words or certain Blogs and "feeds" them to you at a certain destination of your choosing. You just wake up in the morning and check what you've caught. RSS feeds will put your blog right in there with news from the Associated Press.

Take Podcasting. The audio files of a Boston public radio station had only about 150 people downloading until they switched to podcasting in October. Now they have eighty thousand "subscribers."

And advertisers are starting to piggyback onto blogs. How else are advertisers going to get to us when we only get together for the Superbowl once a year. It's called niche marketing and niches have a habit of turning into something bigger. Maybe people aren't searching for the key word, "wild salmon," but linking on the blogosphere to wine, vegetables, or rice you increase your readership vastly.

And lastly, "the winners will be those who host the very best conversations. "


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