Think of it like a focus group for the 21st Century... your users/consumer/customers all commenting in their own ways about what presses their particular mephoric buttons. Normal people generating pockets of 'buzz' across the digital landscape or alternatively generating misinformation about your products (or you). They blog about their face cream, they twitter about the latest flavour of chicken sauce or they load your company logo to their MySpace area.
Just as some companies use distributed co-creation (user-centred innovation) to solve problems by encouraging feedback and even facilitating changes to products by their users*, we can utilise the people and structures beyond the 'walled garden' of complete influence for PR purposes. Although this is already happening (don't all company PR execs secretly 'lurk' in product discussion areas?), how many companies actually understand and measure the collective comments and sentiment?
*(If you don't believe me, just ask why so many Web2.0 products are in permanent 'beta' .Then look at the requested features list from its top users)
Dear Santa, can you please send me:
One word of warning though:
"Madness is the exception in individuals but the rule in groups" - W. F. Nietzsche