ESRI is losing the blog PR battle
It is pretty hard these days not to see daily news of Google Maps, Google Earth or MSN Virtual Earth. Click on any one of those links to see all the blog posts about them in Technorati. Bloggers can’t get enough of these services, but us long time GIS folks know that we’ve been doing this stuff for years with and without ESRI’s help. Google Earth is pretty much the same as a demo I saw Jack Dangermond give a couple years ago. Of course while we all know this, what about the average user who is now interested in these kinds of geospatial products. Go ahead and click on the Technorati ESRI tag link below.
A whole bunch of my posts appear. That is it. People are finding my blog by using that tag, but they aren’t being directed to any ESRI blogger sites. Currently there are a couple of ESRI bloggers, but none of them are able to make the kinds of posts that would be required to get the ESRI name and their services in the blogosphere more. I’d love to see someone take every new Google Maps API website and show how ESRI has been doing this for years. When someone posts about how Google Earth is going to be the end of ESRI, a nice history of the immense task it was moving from ArcInfo 7.x/ArcView 3.x to ArcGIS 8 and how successful ESRI has been since then would be perfect.
When you currently find stories about ESRI in the blogosphere, usually they are just “reprints” of ESRI press releases similar to the ones that Directions Magazine posts. Sure there is good content out there, but it gets lost because there is so much noise. ESRI has begun to offer RSS feeds, but again it is only on their press releases. Hearing about how some city in the mid-west saved millions of dollars because they used ArcGIS is nice, but people want to read about the Northrop Grumman Touch Table that was demonstrated at last years conference. That was impressive, maybe not practical for most people, but it got everyone excited. These kinds of implementations of ESRI technology occur every day of the year, but we only get to read about them in ArcNews or ArcUser and by that time it is old news.
So what should ESRI do? First they need to find a PR blogger. Someone like Robert Scoble or Jeremy Zawodny who can help bloggers learn about ESRI and show the world what they are doing. It doesn’t have to be a “professional” blogger such as them, but it should be someone who knows how the weblogs interact and can leverage tools such as PubSub, Technorati and Feedster. Second, they need to get their project managers and staff blogging. It is easy to look at Microsoft to see how they have grown doing so, but companies such as General Motors are jumping on the bandwagon and you can see the results with the amount of bloggers that are commenting about their posts. Third, they need to offer up more RSS feeds of their existing content. I’m sure there are plans to do so, but the latest support documents and ESRI Developer code samples are difficult to find.
I went to BlogPulse to see how the keywords “ESRI”, “ArcGIS” and “Google Earth” rated over the past month. You can see on the graph below that there is almost no blip for ESRI, even with the increased focus on GIS brought out by Google Earth.
As the 25th ESRI International User Conference is upon us, I also thought it would be nice to see how they keyword ESRI compared against the Where 2.0 conference. I wonder if ESRI will see a similar spike later this month. With the lack of bloggers talking about ESRI these days, I sincerely doubt it. To ignore the blogosphere is ignoring your customers.