Yesterday I’ve assisted to the Conversas Unicer (an informal meeting organized and sponsored by Unicer a major beverage player in Portugal) where Bruno Giussani was the main speaker and some very well knowned portuguese bloggers (Maria João Nogueira, António Granado, Luís Paixão Martins, Eduardo Correia, Paulo Ferreira and Paulo Querido) joined in in yesterday’s conversation.

Bruno Giussani

The starting point “We used to call them users” set the motto for a great presentation. The title was a clear reference to the ‘OLD’ web, where people’s role weren’t anything more than mere spectators of the whole business. The web we live in today if far different, since much of it is actually based in Action, web2.0 brought in personalization and customization, users stood up and embraced the role of actors! Which for companies actually meant more work or at least they couldn’t just count on users eating all the PR jargon they meant them to take. Users got a voice!

According to Bruno, users can be more or less involved along time with a company or product, but they tend to follow a specific path of engagement:

  1. witnessing
  2. sharing
  3. conversation
  4. collaboration
  5. action

At first, we’re all mere spectators, witnessing whatever happens around us. Nothing new here, or by that matters with the any of the following states. The only difference is that with the advent of web, the power and time by which this all process happens is amazingly fast, meaning I can progress from the point where I’ve witnessed something to the point where I decide to engage some action about it in a fraction of the time it used to happen.

For companies this brought in the need for them to engage users in all this different mind settings. And basically you have two options about it: retreat or engage the conversation. Bruno and the portuguese bloggers that joint the conversation seem to have an agreement that if you’re 100% into it, it’s probably better not to jump into blogging at all, since the side effects of poor communication (blogging in this case) can be as worst as traditional communication.

On the other side, for the companies that actually engage the blogging as a communication process, there are clear advantages. Users will always talk about a company products, so if a company does provide their customers with a place for open discussion about their products, they somehow control or at least have an active part in that discussion. Anyone barely involved in PR knows how much better that is 😉

Plus, and this was something I haven’t heard during the general conversation, people bond with brands, it’s a natural happening, the difference this days to me is that people don’t expect to be mass-branded any more, so the closer they feel to a brand, the more personal the experience gets… and experience is everything in there days.

Conversas Unicer - Blogosfera: um problema para as empresas ou um novo universo para as Relações Públicas?I personally thing that this theme is amazingly important in the Portuguese context, and I’m not complaining as usual to the fact that Portuguese companies tend to be 2/3 years far behind the rest of Europe/World! But by seeing so many companies PR’s in that room and see them taking part of the discussion and acknowledging the importance of the blogs in their communication as a way to increase their users satisfaction and have closer control how their brands are interpreted by their customers it’s already clear the importance blogs will have in the future or traditional public relations.

One last note, for the Unicer team who organized this all event, congratulations to them all, I’m truly inspired and admired with the concept.

UPDATE: the full video (PT) is now available: