By Taren Fujimoto
This month’s column is brought to you by Taren Fujimoto, a recent graduate of Kaua`i High School and an intern with Fujita & Miura Public Relations.

Exploiting the appeal of reading someone’s personal diary and the ease of exposure, blogs or Web logs, are “all the buzz” today. The sprawling populous of blogs has invaded every online nook and cranny imaginable, from personal websites to online communities to political pages.

Now more than ever, businesses are taking advantage of the phenomenon. In fact, a Google search for “business blogs” yielded exactly 36,800,000 results. Despite this, experts reluctantly admit that the marketing reach of blogs is surprisingly low. According to statistics of a Pew Research Center Survey mentioned in “BusinessWeek” magazine’s online article “Blogs Will Change Your Business,” “only 27% of Internet users in America now bother to read them.”

But how does this “blog boom” affect Kaua`i businesses? Would a venture down “blog lane” prove to be worthwhile for such a tight-knit community, especially one that relies heavily on word-of-mouth communications? Just how effective are blogs here in persuading consumers to purchase your product or service?

When done the right way, for example, a personal blog on your company website, blogs can be good PR for all companies, including those here on Kaua`i. Although seeing customers in person is often the best way to do business, business blogging gives you an additional way to communicate. Blogging can have that homespun, up-to-the-minute feel that websites can lack. While websites can be sterile and created to have a broad appeal, consumers know blogs are written and updated by a real person in your company. Blogs might not be as pretty as the overall website but they are no doubt, directly from you. Given this, blogging can make the company-consumer relationship much more intimate than a website ever could.

If your company decides to start a blog, remember to keep it personal just like a journal. No one wants to read ads regurgitated as blogs. Maintain it regularly to keep it fresh and interesting. Also, it’s a good idea to allow individuals to subscribe to your blog so that you can alert them via email once you have added a new post. This not only makes it easier for them to use your blog, but also provides you with a great ally database and assures that these folks will be constantly connected to your business. And remember, even though a small percentage of Internet users read blogs, those who are perusing your blog can be your most interested, high-potential targets that will most likely give you business.

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