Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Washington Post Bloggers Summit

I was invited to a D.C. Bloggers Summit, hosted by the Washington Post last night. It was held at the Post headquarters over on 15th street, N.W. If you read any of the well known D.C. blogs you may have heard the buzz on this event already today. But hey, some of us have to work during the day.

Young DC PR Pros was in attendance and from what I could tell, I represented the only public relations blog at the event. It was ironic, to me, that one of the most well read print newspapers on the planet would host a blogging summit in its headquarters, but you've got to give the Washington Post credit for showing some love to the D.C. blogging crowd, and for the free food.

Here's a rundown on the Summit with my thoughts thrown in:

DCist and DC Met.blogs consumed entire tables and clearly were the big boys in the room. I managed to hang with the individual bloggers and chatted it up with some really cool people.

Washington Post blogger Marc Fisher was on a panel discussion, along with CEO of WPNI, Caroline Little, as well as Jim Brady, the executive editor of These journalists seemed genuinely eager to be there and answered questions and offered suggestions to a variety of Washington based bloggers.

An internet lawyer then gave a 30 minute presentation on internet libel law. It was about as exciting as it sounds. We woke up to the coolest part of the night: the Washington Post is launching a local blog directory and wanted to share a prototype of the tool with the local blogging community. Lots of cool things could be done with such a tool, in ways that Google search and Technorati couldn't manage to do at such a local, neighborhood by neighborhood level.

Lots of problems seem unresolved. Mainly, how do you determine the categories of local blogs as many cover a variety of topics. Also, the prototype included an 'in recent posts' section, leaving many wondering how in the world WaPo was planning on filtering the no doubt unwholesome posts that would pop up from time to time. There was a huge debate on API and an local advertising sponsorship program that seemed go nowhere so I won't rehash it here.

Even with these questions, the overall tone was one of love and not angst. The bloggers seemed glad to be taken seriously and allowed to check out a to-be-release Washington Post product and, for their part, the Post seemed eager to get our thoughts and even took infrequent notes throughout the event.

How does this all relate to PR? Well it's proof that the journalists and editors we work with everyday are turning the corner with web 2.0 communications. Internet savvy news sites are eager to get information that connects with this new platform. When I asked how the WaPo's internet editors, bloggers and reporters would prefer to receive information from companies they practically described a social media news release without really calling by name.

To me, this event signaled that traditional news outlets are ready for PR pros to communicate via the new SMNR, podcasts, and through social tagging and RSS feeds.

Check out more of my thoughts on the WaPo event and its broader implications on PR over at Forward in the coming days.


Robbie said...

Woo-hoo! I made "cool"!

As I said before, I'm glad to have met you. I think we we had the best group of people at one table in the room.

Seriously, it was a neat event. I can't think of another large media, particularly in D.C., that has reached out to its local blogging community the way WaPo did. Very cool of them.

Dara said...

Well written article.