The National Roads Authority (NRA) has dones the next-best thing to blogging at the weekend. It published a full-page ad in all the Sunday papers, to gets its point across about a new road it is planning. Obviously, the NRA doesn’t think it is getting its message across well enough the traditional way.
The company has found it has something to say, that it considers important and which is not being dealt with well by conventional media. The NRA cannot explain its complex message indirectly through the media and wants to communicate directly with its audience.
This is basically the same as the motivation of the common blogger. What the NRA has done cost a lot more and gives the appearance of reaching a wider audience, but it’s basically the same sort of thing.
Why couldn’t they have published it on their website? Granted, there’s a leaflet in PDF format up there, but what use is that when you want to read off-screen? Who would really be bothered with printing something like that out? Motorway anoraks only, I think. It’s just too awkward to access.
An on-line version could more easily have been a basis for discussion. People could have talked about it more easily in discussion groups and other places.
An on-line version could also put the information in-context. You can’t talk about a plan for a road in isolation from the development of towns and other roads.
An on-line version would have served as a permanent record that the public could refer back to. The newspaper will only be accessed the once by most people.
The Internet has an awful lot of advantages for communicating directly with the public. Press ads have their place, but they’re really too inflexible and unwieldy to use as a vehicle for building relationships.