A firestorm has ignited around the relationships between bloggers and public relations professionals. The debate has been going around in circles since the first PR pro “pitched” a blogger on behalf of his/her client. Since then, leaders in the PR industry are trying to navigate the often times rough waters in reaching out to bloggers. In turn, bloggers have started to educate themselves on how best to work with said PR pros while still remaining true to their original intention for their personal blog.
While I don’t have my own personal blog, I’m in an interesting spot as I run in both circles. I’m the public relations and social media account supervisor at Bailey Gardiner and I have great friends that blog. These bloggers range from moms to business professionals – all who have well written, highly visited and interesting blogs.
I reached out (through Twitter, of course) to some of those friends and some I’ve never met before to get some insights about what they think PR pros need to know about blogger relations. There are two recurring themes: build relationships and do your research.
- “Build relationships with bloggers before you need it, not when you need it; offer to co-create content; don’t send a release,” said Jay Baer (@jaybaer).
- Michelle Sybert http://twitter.com/#!/muffintinmom) commented, “if [pr pros] share a bit of info about themselves, whether it’s if they have kids or they have an interesting hobby….It lets me know they are interested in creating a relationship with me instead of a ‘I am only interested in getting as much from you for as little as possible’ attitude.”
- Gini Dietrich (@ginidietrich) says, “Subscribe to blogs, read them, and THEN pitch them”.
- “Instead of sending a broad press release to all media outlets, tailor a message specific to the blog audience. Call out some reasons why your product or event is relevant to our readers’ lives. We’re much more likely to write an interesting blog post about something we can actually relate to,” said Chelsea Skaggs (@somedayilllearn)
- “Send me all the free stuff you want, but don’t then demand I talk about it,” said Scott Stratten (@unmarketing).
- Jason Avant (@petcobra) commented, “I typically get 10 to 20 pitches a day in my inbox; I delete about 99% of them without responding. Ultimately, it all boils down to whether or not the person sending me the pitch has actually taken the time to read my site, and to understand the content as well as my audience. My goal, and the goal of most ethical bloggers, is not to help a PR person shill their client’s product or service; it’s to provide good content for my readers.”
To sum up, we all know how crucial relationships with media are to our success as PR pros. The same goes for relationships with bloggers. Treat them with the same respect you would the editor of the Wall Street Journal. Be thoughtful of their time and adhere to their deadlines. Most times, bloggers are writing about personal experiences and give great insight into their likes and dislikes, interests and passions.
Finally, as with traditional media, PR pros should not expect a blogger to write positive things about his/her client in exchange for a product or service. Just as traditional reporters can choose how they are going to write about a product, bloggers have the same right. Prepare yourself (and your client) for positive or negative reviews and even no review at all.
For example, when the team at Bailey Gardiner planned a recent blogger event for Tiffany & Co., we set clear expectations with our client and communicated that it was a ‘no-pitch event’ meant to provide an experience as good as one we would give an editor or reporter. Had no one written anything, we would have still considered it a success.
What are your thoughts? Do you have other ideas about how PR pros should reach out to bloggers? Bloggers- what additional blogger relations tips do you have for PR pros? On the flip side, I’m also interested in hearing thoughts from PR pros who regularly pitch bloggers. What advice do you have for bloggers when working with PR pros?
Erika DiProfio has more than 10 years of public relations experience and is currently the PR and Social Media Account Supervisor at Bailey Gardiner. Prior to joining BG, Erika led the highly successful public relations strategy at Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp (dba Souplantation), launched the company’s ambassador program (Kitchen Cabinet), and was the driving force behind its well-known and highly regarded Social Media presence.