This is the fifth post in a 6 part series on how I using social media. In this fifth installment, I discuss blogger relations.
While I would consider blogs an integral part of any “traditional” public relations strategy, blogs are somewhat unique compared to reporters at traditional publications. Bloggers are writing to communicate their distinct perspective on a topic. And most are writing in addition to their day jobs.
I previously wrote a guest post for WebMarketCentral on PR and Blogging Outreach: 8 Practical Tips. Since writing the post in September of 2007, I believe many of the pointers are still valid. I’ve reviewed what I wrote and updated based on what I’ve learned over the past year:
* Bloggers are not journalists: Bloggers write because they are passionate about the topic. Journalists write as a job and part of that job is receiving tons of emails and calls from folks like me. Most bloggers don’t come from the traditional reporter background so treating them as such can backfire.
* Familiarize yourself with the blogger: Previously, I would have recommended reading the blog. However, I realize it’s more reading past posts. It’s about familiarizing yourself with the blogger. What has the blogger written in the past, what is the tone and what is the person’s background. I would even recommend googling the person to learn about the person’s online reputation. Go to LinkedIn and see if there is a profile on the blogger (Note: do this with reporters and freelance writers as well). There is a wealth of information on the person’s background. Take advantage of it.
* Beyond Email Pitches: Commonly, I would send a “pitch” via a contact page or email a blogger. I’ve discovered that bloggers, me included, also pay attention to other ways of connecting. For example, some bloggers only accept pitches via a Twitpitch. Or will take interest in your comment and want to learn more.
* Nurture a relationship: Don’t pitch, get “coverage” and then leave. It’s like getting ready for a hot first date and being taken to a McDonald’s for dinner. Once you’ve gotten a person’s attention, be sure to nurture that relationship like you do for any reporter relevant to your space. When appropriate, connect with the blogger when you have news, drop an email about industry news and occasionally comment to demonstrate that you’re reading their blog. For emails, an added touch is to incorporate something the person has recently written.
* Be Transparent: Whether you’re commenting on a blog or contacting a blogger, be transparent about who you are and what your intentions are. Do I really need to say more on this?
* Grammar and spelling do count: If you’re read the person’s blog, you should be able to identify the blogger’s gender and correct spelling of his/her name. And having good grammar just demonstrates you can write English well. Check out B.L. Ochman’s recent post on this topic.
* Don’t disregard “smaller” bloggers: Never disregard a smaller blogger. You never know who will read and link to a story that can gain a life of its own.
* Face to face is important: While I have met a lot of people virtually, I think it’s important to cement any relationship in person. If the blogger is local, have an open door policy to visit your offices, give in-person demos or just have coffee. If you’re traveling, reach out to bloggers in that town, especially those you’ve been in touch with in the past.
* Monitor and respond quickly: Your never know when a post can quickly spiral out of control for a company or person. You have to monitor what is being said and respond immediately to correct inaccurate information or diffuse potentially disastrous situations. Scott Monty of Ford recently handled a similar situation (check out the article at Fast Company). The key was Scott’s transparency, as well as his personable demeanor in all his online communications.
Other posts in the series:
Using Social Media: Part 3 – Social Networking Sites (updated link)