As far as I know, this is the first article on the use of weblogs in online public relations published by a peer-reviewed scholarly journal:
Organizational Blogs and the Human Voice: Relational Strategies and Relational Outcomes. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11(2) (Technorati cosmos | RSS feed) (del.icio.us cosmos | RSS)
Tom Kelleher and Barbara M. Miller, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
This study develops and tests operational definitions of relational maintenance strategies appropriate to online public relations. An experiment was designed to test the new measures and to test hypotheses evaluating potential advantages of organizational blogs over traditional Web sites. Participants assigned to the blog condition perceived an organization’s “conversational human voice” to be greater than participants who were assigned to read traditional Web pages. Moreover, perceived relational strategies (conversational human voice, communicated relational commitment) were found to correlate significantly with relational outcomes (trust, satisfaction, control mutuality, commitment).
This is a great step toward the recognition of weblogs as a legitimate and important tool in public relations, and examplifies the resources and insights that academic research have to offer, of which the majority of PR practitioners are oblivious to.
Bonus link: Tom Kelleher’s weblog: Public Relations Online – Thoughts & Theory