We could have been like thisThere’s been a lot of talk about the relationship between the public relations industry and bloggers. I’ve written about it in the past as have others, yet still there’s this feeling of a barrier between the two mediums.

As someone on both sides of the fence, I can understand each side’s views.

Yet I can also see where both sides could improve. So, with no bias to either the PR industry or bloggers, here are some suggestions to help both PR and bloggers help each other.

PR People – Think Like Bloggers

Consider starting a blog if you don’t already have one. Unless you blog yourself, you probably won’t understand the mindset of a blogger. It can be a lonely and time-consuming business – the last thing we want is added workloads through misunderstanding or laziness. If you blog, you’ll have a better appreciation of how we work and how our time can best be used.

Treat us as a bona-fide media source in both your pitching and follow-ups. True, we may not have the name of a New York Times or CBS journalist or reporter. But we often are more visible, thanks to Google and search engine awareness, which means our story could potentially have a much wider audience. Doesn’t that deserve some respect?

Find out who we are and what we do. You have a gardening tool to promote for a client. So why would you send your news release to a tech or music blogger? Don’t just grab a bunch of names from a blogger list – do a little homework, find out what we write about, our style, etc. Trust me, show me you know about me and my readers and you’re almost home dry with me.

Invite us to participate in what your clients are up to. Bloggers love to be involved early on – after doing your homework on who would fit you client base, invite bloggers into your inner circle as your official blog partners. Let us tell your story (without any major interference) and you’ll have a primed marketing team of bloggers ready to go.

Bloggers – PR is Not Your Enemy

Bloggers are wary of PR people. Lazy pitches, poor communication and being treated as second-class citizens are just some of the complaints. Yet there are ways to help yourself be more appreciated by the PR industry.

Have either an About Me page or an area that describes what your blog is about. This may seem like common sense but the amount of reviewer blogs I’ve seen without this simple addition is mind-boggling. How can you expect a proper pitch when you don’t advise on what you write about?

Display a PR-friendly badge to let us know that you’re open to pitching. Todd Defren and the folks over at Shift Communications have come up with some badge designs you can use. Clean and clear, they save both PR people and bloggers a lot of time.

Be ethical at all times and true to your beliefs. This works both ways. Your blog is your voice and your readers should trust that voice. Keep your views honest and untainted by PR pressure. And if someone in PR is pressuring you into a positive spin when their client doesn’t deserve one, don’t be afraid to call them out via your blog.

Contact us and offer your services as part of a PR agency’s blogger outreach program. Many PR firms and professionals are still far behind on the benefits of a blogger outreach program. Use Google, Twitter, O’Dwyer’s blog and other resources to find agencies in your niche. Then send them an email about your expertise and how they could benefit from it. Pro-activity never hurt anyone.

These are just some examples of how the PR industry and bloggers can help each other. I’m sure there are countless more, but it’s a start.

How about you? Are you a blogger? If so, how can PR professionals improve? Or are you in the PR industry? Where would you like to see bloggers improve? Feel free to share your views and let’s get the conversation going.

Creative Commons License photo credit: lepiaf.geo

35 comments
Henie
Henie

Hi Danny!

As always, I enjoy reading and learning from your excellent posts! Thank you!

I am not PR and I am a relatively new blogger...the learning I am experiencing is purely instinctive and boundless!

The foundation to all learning and eventual partnership is authenticity, cultivation of community, nurturing and growing relationships...all of which creates value for everyone!

Thanks much again for being a part of my stepping stones to awareness and knowledge!

Have a fine day, Danny!

Henie
Henie

Hi Danny! As always, I enjoy reading and learning from your excellent posts! Thank you! I am not PR and I am a relatively new blogger...the learning I am experiencing is purely instinctive and boundless! The foundation to all learning and eventual partnership is authenticity, cultivation of community, nurturing and growing relationships...all of which creates value for everyone! Thanks much again for being a part of my stepping stones to awareness and knowledge! Have a fine day, Danny!

Ari Herzog
Ari Herzog

Your advice to the people relations (TM @dmullen) may as well be about blogger relations to each other.

How many bloggers know about the people who read their blogs and comment like I am now? Some do, but not all. Many churn out content like a press release, hoping it will be read, dugg, stumbled, and tweeted. Shame, I say; that person is no better than the folks you're tsking.

Ari Herzog
Ari Herzog

Your advice to the people relations (TM @dmullen) may as well be about blogger relations to each other. How many bloggers know about the people who read their blogs and comment like I am now? Some do, but not all. Many churn out content like a press release, hoping it will be read, dugg, stumbled, and tweeted. Shame, I say; that person is no better than the folks you're tsking.

Tom Vanlerberghe
Tom Vanlerberghe

"Always be ethical"
Just love this small part, because it can have an huge impact on both blogger, pr professional and company.

It's so important and everybody's responsible, for all the reasons you wrote down, probably more.

Too bad a lot of companies still rely on cloak & dagger tactics, just because it's online and they think the repercussions won't be that bad...

Tom Vanlerberghe
Tom Vanlerberghe

"Always be ethical"
Just love this small part, because it can have an huge impact on both blogger, pr professional and company.

It's so important and everybody's responsible, for all the reasons you wrote down, probably more.

Too bad a lot of companies still rely on cloak & dagger tactics, just because it's online and they think the repercussions won't be that bad...

Tom Vanlerberghe
Tom Vanlerberghe

"Always be ethical" Just love this small part, because it can have an huge impact on both blogger, pr professional and company. It's so important and everybody's responsible, for all the reasons you wrote down, probably more. Too bad a lot of companies still rely on cloak & dagger tactics, just because it's online and they think the repercussions won't be that bad...

Jane Alexander
Jane Alexander

Interesting piece....I think there is a huge opportunity for PR and bloggers to benefit from one another. Was recently on the Disney 'mummy bloggers' trip and was impressed that they seemed to have done their homework very well (thanks to digital-outlook.com). But some PRs seem to think that bloggers will jump at anything and all too often I'm approached with campaigns that are either not suitable for my readership (ie baby stuff) or that are simply asking me to do their job for them (without offering any real benefit to me or my readers).
But then I was a journalist before I became a blogger and so am well used to PR pitches. Maybe PRs need to go a bit easier and recognise that - as you say - many bloggers are writing purely for themselves, their families and friends, or whatever.
I like the idea of the badge though - both the thumbs up and no thanks - think that's a good start.

Jane Alexander
Jane Alexander

Interesting piece....I think there is a huge opportunity for PR and bloggers to benefit from one another. Was recently on the Disney 'mummy bloggers' trip and was impressed that they seemed to have done their homework very well (thanks to digital-outlook.com). But some PRs seem to think that bloggers will jump at anything and all too often I'm approached with campaigns that are either not suitable for my readership (ie baby stuff) or that are simply asking me to do their job for them (without offering any real benefit to me or my readers).
But then I was a journalist before I became a blogger and so am well used to PR pitches. Maybe PRs need to go a bit easier and recognise that - as you say - many bloggers are writing purely for themselves, their families and friends, or whatever.
I like the idea of the badge though - both the thumbs up and no thanks - think that's a good start.

Jane Alexander
Jane Alexander

Interesting piece....I think there is a huge opportunity for PR and bloggers to benefit from one another. Was recently on the Disney 'mummy bloggers' trip and was impressed that they seemed to have done their homework very well (thanks to digital-outlook.com). But some PRs seem to think that bloggers will jump at anything and all too often I'm approached with campaigns that are either not suitable for my readership (ie baby stuff) or that are simply asking me to do their job for them (without offering any real benefit to me or my readers). But then I was a journalist before I became a blogger and so am well used to PR pitches. Maybe PRs need to go a bit easier and recognise that - as you say - many bloggers are writing purely for themselves, their families and friends, or whatever. I like the idea of the badge though - both the thumbs up and no thanks - think that's a good start.

Sasha
Sasha

Hey Danny,

I have to say, I really enjoyed this post. I’m on both sides of the fence, as a PR person and a blogger, and I’ve never encountered any of these issues – thank goodness – but I can definitely see your points.

I think one of the most important things for the PR person is, as you said, not to pick a list of bloggers and to reach out to them, but rather know which ones cover what specific topics, then send them your materials.

But also that should be PR common sense – research is very important. I think too many people think it is too time consuming, which is sad because it is such a helpful resource to have acquired.

As for the bloggers with PR people – you remind me of what is said to journalists about PR people being the “dark side,” lol – but, PR people are not the enemy, some just get carried away.

I don’t think I’m the enemy that’s for sure. When I pitch, I always try to engage and ask questions.

Too often though, because we are online and not speaking face to face, I find words can be misconstrued and chopped into different meanings. There is are no facial features or body language attached to it.

Typically, online if I misunderstand something or I feel someone else has, I give them the benefit of the doubt and simply say something to the effect of “We’re online, I think we misunderstood each other’s words.”

That doesn’t always work, but I think it’s one step to pacify a seemingly awkward or testy situation. Now if someone is just rude – I’ll simply say, “No need to be rude.” Typically they retract their previous statements realizing their error and we just move on. But that isn’t everyone or all situations.

So while there are so many different lines between bloggers and PR people, I think communication and just being open to hear an idea, if anything, is the key.

Really great post Danny, as usual, you’ve given me something to think about!

Hope you’re having a wonderful day,
Best Wishes,

Sasha :-)

Sasha
Sasha

Hey Danny,

I have to say, I really enjoyed this post. I’m on both sides of the fence, as a PR person and a blogger, and I’ve never encountered any of these issues – thank goodness – but I can definitely see your points.

I think one of the most important things for the PR person is, as you said, not to pick a list of bloggers and to reach out to them, but rather know which ones cover what specific topics, then send them your materials.

But also that should be PR common sense – research is very important. I think too many people think it is too time consuming, which is sad because it is such a helpful resource to have acquired.

As for the bloggers with PR people – you remind me of what is said to journalists about PR people being the “dark side,” lol – but, PR people are not the enemy, some just get carried away.

I don’t think I’m the enemy that’s for sure. When I pitch, I always try to engage and ask questions.

Too often though, because we are online and not speaking face to face, I find words can be misconstrued and chopped into different meanings. There is are no facial features or body language attached to it.

Typically, online if I misunderstand something or I feel someone else has, I give them the benefit of the doubt and simply say something to the effect of “We’re online, I think we misunderstood each other’s words.”

That doesn’t always work, but I think it’s one step to pacify a seemingly awkward or testy situation. Now if someone is just rude – I’ll simply say, “No need to be rude.” Typically they retract their previous statements realizing their error and we just move on. But that isn’t everyone or all situations.

So while there are so many different lines between bloggers and PR people, I think communication and just being open to hear an idea, if anything, is the key.

Really great post Danny, as usual, you’ve given me something to think about!

Hope you’re having a wonderful day,
Best Wishes,

Sasha :-)

Sasha
Sasha

Hey Danny,

I have to say, I really enjoyed this post. I’m on both sides of the fence, as a PR person and a blogger, and I’ve never encountered any of these issues – thank goodness – but I can definitely see your points.

I think one of the most important things for the PR person is, as you said, not to pick a list of bloggers and to reach out to them, but rather know which ones cover what specific topics, then send them your materials.

But also that should be PR common sense – research is very important. I think too many people think it is too time consuming, which is sad because it is such a helpful resource to have acquired.

As for the bloggers with PR people – you remind me of what is said to journalists about PR people being the “dark side,” lol – but, PR people are not the enemy, some just get carried away.

I don’t think I’m the enemy that’s for sure. When I pitch, I always try to engage and ask questions.

Too often though, because we are online and not speaking face to face, I find words can be misconstrued and chopped into different meanings. There is are no facial features or body language attached to it.

Typically, online if I misunderstand something or I feel someone else has, I give them the benefit of the doubt and simply say something to the effect of “We’re online, I think we misunderstood each other’s words.”

That doesn’t always work, but I think it’s one step to pacify a seemingly awkward or testy situation. Now if someone is just rude – I’ll simply say, “No need to be rude.” Typically they retract their previous statements realizing their error and we just move on. But that isn’t everyone or all situations.

So while there are so many different lines between bloggers and PR people, I think communication and just being open to hear an idea, if anything, is the key.

Really great post Danny, as usual, you’ve given me something to think about!

Hope you’re having a wonderful day,
Best Wishes,

Sasha :-)

Sasha
Sasha

Hey Danny, I have to say, I really enjoyed this post. I’m on both sides of the fence, as a PR person and a blogger, and I’ve never encountered any of these issues – thank goodness – but I can definitely see your points. I think one of the most important things for the PR person is, as you said, not to pick a list of bloggers and to reach out to them, but rather know which ones cover what specific topics, then send them your materials. But also that should be PR common sense – research is very important. I think too many people think it is too time consuming, which is sad because it is such a helpful resource to have acquired. As for the bloggers with PR people – you remind me of what is said to journalists about PR people being the “dark side,” lol – but, PR people are not the enemy, some just get carried away. I don’t think I’m the enemy that’s for sure. When I pitch, I always try to engage and ask questions. Too often though, because we are online and not speaking face to face, I find words can be misconstrued and chopped into different meanings. There is are no facial features or body language attached to it. Typically, online if I misunderstand something or I feel someone else has, I give them the benefit of the doubt and simply say something to the effect of “We’re online, I think we misunderstood each other’s words.” That doesn’t always work, but I think it’s one step to pacify a seemingly awkward or testy situation. Now if someone is just rude – I’ll simply say, “No need to be rude.” Typically they retract their previous statements realizing their error and we just move on. But that isn’t everyone or all situations. So while there are so many different lines between bloggers and PR people, I think communication and just being open to hear an idea, if anything, is the key. Really great post Danny, as usual, you’ve given me something to think about! Hope you’re having a wonderful day, Best Wishes, Sasha :-)

Arik Hanson
Arik Hanson

Danny, I didn't have to go any further than "think like a blogger" for the PR side. Really, that says it all. And, PR colleagues, if we do that, much like traditional media relations, we will be successful. Pay special note of #4. Bloggers, just like journalists, like to believe they're special. Treat them that way.

Arik Hanson
Arik Hanson

Danny, I didn't have to go any further than "think like a blogger" for the PR side. Really, that says it all. And, PR colleagues, if we do that, much like traditional media relations, we will be successful. Pay special note of #4. Bloggers, just like journalists, like to believe they're special. Treat them that way.

Roger Hjulstrom
Roger Hjulstrom

You've covered all the main points well, as always. And being only a blogger-in-training, don't really have the experience to add much. I do feel that bloggers and PR shouldn't get too cozy, though. A little bit of natural distrust will keep the whole process more honest. I look forward to a hopefully spirited discussion here.

Roger Hjulstrom
Roger Hjulstrom

You've covered all the main points well, as always. And being only a blogger-in-training, don't really have the experience to add much. I do feel that bloggers and PR shouldn't get too cozy, though. A little bit of natural distrust will keep the whole process more honest. I look forward to a hopefully spirited discussion here.

Joe Boughner
Joe Boughner

Danny,

At the risk of hikacking your comment thread / ignoring the key thrust of your post, I think we have to get past refering to bloggers and any kind of a homogenous collective.

There is finally (maybe) starting to be a growing understanding that the blog is the tool, not the strategy. The extension of this, though, is that bloggers are simply people who use that specific tool.

A hockey blogger is not the same as a PR blogger, who is not the same as a knitting blogger, who is not the same as a travel blogger etc. Within each of those communities lies even more variation.

You've done a good job of capturing this with the point about "find out who we are" but I think some of your comments here go too far the other way. To suggest that bloggers "love to be involved early on," for example, makes some big assumptions about bloggers that PR people should be wary of. Some people blog for their friends, some blog for themselves; they may not want to hear from PR companies no matter how tailored and gentle the pitch.

This isn't to take away from what you've written. You've made some excellent observations and suggestions. I'm just wary of trying to define a good way to approach bloggers as a collective.

Joe Boughner
Joe Boughner

Danny,

At the risk of hikacking your comment thread / ignoring the key thrust of your post, I think we have to get past refering to bloggers and any kind of a homogenous collective.

There is finally (maybe) starting to be a growing understanding that the blog is the tool, not the strategy. The extension of this, though, is that bloggers are simply people who use that specific tool.

A hockey blogger is not the same as a PR blogger, who is not the same as a knitting blogger, who is not the same as a travel blogger etc. Within each of those communities lies even more variation.

You've done a good job of capturing this with the point about "find out who we are" but I think some of your comments here go too far the other way. To suggest that bloggers "love to be involved early on," for example, makes some big assumptions about bloggers that PR people should be wary of. Some people blog for their friends, some blog for themselves; they may not want to hear from PR companies no matter how tailored and gentle the pitch.

This isn't to take away from what you've written. You've made some excellent observations and suggestions. I'm just wary of trying to define a good way to approach bloggers as a collective.

Joe Boughner
Joe Boughner

Danny, At the risk of hikacking your comment thread / ignoring the key thrust of your post, I think we have to get past refering to bloggers and any kind of a homogenous collective. There is finally (maybe) starting to be a growing understanding that the blog is the tool, not the strategy. The extension of this, though, is that bloggers are simply people who use that specific tool. A hockey blogger is not the same as a PR blogger, who is not the same as a knitting blogger, who is not the same as a travel blogger etc. Within each of those communities lies even more variation. You've done a good job of capturing this with the point about "find out who we are" but I think some of your comments here go too far the other way. To suggest that bloggers "love to be involved early on," for example, makes some big assumptions about bloggers that PR people should be wary of. Some people blog for their friends, some blog for themselves; they may not want to hear from PR companies no matter how tailored and gentle the pitch. This isn't to take away from what you've written. You've made some excellent observations and suggestions. I'm just wary of trying to define a good way to approach bloggers as a collective.

Danny
Danny

That's a good point, Ari, and a reason for both bloggers to get outside their niche as well as in it, and for PR professionals to really do their homework on the blogger(s) first. There's certainly no shortage of tools for the job.

Danny
Danny

That's a good point, Ari, and a reason for both bloggers to get outside their niche as well as in it, and for PR professionals to really do their homework on the blogger(s) first. There's certainly no shortage of tools for the job.

Danny
Danny

Yet funnily enough, online the repercussions are often worse. Print news can fade - online news is virtually limitless in its visibility.

Danny
Danny

Yet funnily enough, online the repercussions are often worse. Print news can fade - online news is virtually limitless in its visibility.

Danny
Danny

I think this is where the key problem lies for many PR professionals. Certainly not all, but enough. They feel that bloggers are trying to compete with traditional media so will jump at the chance - as you say, it can be far from it. Yes, being in early on a test or story is nice - but it's still down to the type of blogger at the end of the day.

Danny
Danny

I think this is where the key problem lies for many PR professionals. Certainly not all, but enough. They feel that bloggers are trying to compete with traditional media so will jump at the chance - as you say, it can be far from it. Yes, being in early on a test or story is nice - but it's still down to the type of blogger at the end of the day.

Danny
Danny

Hi Sasha,

Your point about research is very valid. This is one key area that I think many PR professionals fall down. The view is (as you say), "It takes too much time. Why bother when I can email blast?". And then they wonder why bloggers can have such a negative view.

Thing is, like most things, if you take the time to put the original effort in, it makes it much easier and more productive in the long run.

If there really is so little time to put this part of a PR strategy together properly, why not hire an intern to run your blogger outreach for you? There's a good chance they'll be social media savvy already, or know the ins-and-outs of the blogosphere, so half the battle is already won.

It's also true of the "text versus emotion" example you use. I had numerous occasions recently where emails or tweets were misconstrued and it led to major issues. You can't beat face-to-face for gauging a situation.

Of course, this is easier said than done when it comes to online-based relationships. Which is where getting to know the blogger (and vice versa) would come into its own.

Thanks for some great thoughts, appreciated! :)

Danny
Danny

Hi Sasha, Your point about research is very valid. This is one key area that I think many PR professionals fall down. The view is (as you say), "It takes too much time. Why bother when I can email blast?". And then they wonder why bloggers can have such a negative view. Thing is, like most things, if you take the time to put the original effort in, it makes it much easier and more productive in the long run. If there really is so little time to put this part of a PR strategy together properly, why not hire an intern to run your blogger outreach for you? There's a good chance they'll be social media savvy already, or know the ins-and-outs of the blogosphere, so half the battle is already won. It's also true of the "text versus emotion" example you use. I had numerous occasions recently where emails or tweets were misconstrued and it led to major issues. You can't beat face-to-face for gauging a situation. Of course, this is easier said than done when it comes to online-based relationships. Which is where getting to know the blogger (and vice versa) would come into its own. Thanks for some great thoughts, appreciated! :)

Danny
Danny

Ha, good point - I guess a badge that gives PR the bird may be counter-productive, huh? ;-)

I'm wondering if the Blog Council and PRSA (or their equivalents) can join forces to come up with some suggestions/solutions? You'd think they would be the ones that would really want to get involved.

Joe Boughner
Joe Boughner

With you all the way, Danny. Your post certainly repeats that a one-fit solution will never work and I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. If more PR types paid heed to this way of thinking, life would be easier for everyone.

The PR-friendly/unfriendly badge is an interesting idea but I'm not sure it's going to get traction - especially the latter. Hard to see "casual bloggers" being engaged enough in the PR realm to even know they need such a badge. Still, better than nothing, I guess.

Danny
Danny

I see what you're saying, Joe. Where I'd differ is that it's not meant as a one-fit solution. It's aimed at PR types realizing who the bloggers are that need to be contacted and bloggers that want to be contacted by PR.

I agree that not all bloggers fit into this, but any PR agency that goes after a clearly "personal blogger" is not doing their homework.

Additionally, the "PR-friendly/unfriendly" badge would go a long way in separating "casual bloggers" from those willing to partake in PR strategies and campaigns.

The blog is most definitely the tool, but without the right tool master and the project for that tool being defined, we'd just stay in the dark on both sides.

Thanks for sharing your views, fella, always appreciated. :)

Danny
Danny

I see what you're saying, Joe. Where I'd differ is that it's not meant as a one-fit solution. It's aimed at PR types realizing who the bloggers are that need to be contacted and bloggers that want to be contacted by PR. I agree that not all bloggers fit into this, but any PR agency that goes after a clearly "personal blogger" is not doing their homework. Additionally, the "PR-friendly/unfriendly" badge would go a long way in separating "casual bloggers" from those willing to partake in PR strategies and campaigns. The blog is most definitely the tool, but without the right tool master and the project for that tool being defined, we'd just stay in the dark on both sides. Thanks for sharing your views, fella, always appreciated. :)

Joe Boughner
Joe Boughner

With you all the way, Danny. Your post certainly repeats that a one-fit solution will never work and I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. If more PR types paid heed to this way of thinking, life would be easier for everyone. The PR-friendly/unfriendly badge is an interesting idea but I'm not sure it's going to get traction - especially the latter. Hard to see "casual bloggers" being engaged enough in the PR realm to even know they need such a badge. Still, better than nothing, I guess.

Danny
Danny

Ha, good point - I guess a badge that gives PR the bird may be counter-productive, huh? ;-) I'm wondering if the Blog Council and PRSA (or their equivalents) can join forces to come up with some suggestions/solutions? You'd think they would be the ones that would really want to get involved.

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