I really don’t get what the hassle is about, but over the last few months there’s been a spate of meetings from which it has been declared that PRs and bloggers can’t get on (see here and here), don’t understand each other and ‘oh noes the sky is falling’, to which the sensible answer to all of the aforementioned is: bollocks sheer mince (as we say in Glasgow). Of course bloggers and PRs can get on. It’s not rocket science (unless you work in NASA PR then it might be), but for those PRs ‘experts’ who are struggling (in 2009! FFS!) to work with bloggers, here’s 15 tips/pointers:
- You cannot control the message. Accept that right now (and while we’re at it, you rarely controlled the message with journalists either, so get rid of that illusion now). You can send a blogger all the stuff you want, if they don’t like it, they don’t like it. And they’ll tell the world. What you can do is have a conversation. Use comment boxes. Don’t just send them a freebie and think that’s job done.
- Don’t send them press releases. Send them a link to a press release if you must, but don’t just take ten bloggers and BCC them about a story. Bloggers don’t regurgitate that way. Bloggers like to break news exclusively or (more often) comment on something seen elsewhere, but they will never (or very rarely) just reprint your press release, so don’t take the huff when they don’t.
- Don’t act all hurt if you send something to a blogger and they break an embargo. Old-school journalists used to do that as well.
- If something is under embargo, wait until one minute past the embargo before telling bloggers if you are that worried about it. If that’s 12:01am and you’re annoyed that you have to stay up that late to send an email you’re quite behind on the technology curve. And if you even think that’s the best way to inform then, you’re behind on the social graces curve.
- Not every blogger will give you the time of day (so to speak) and why should they? Does every journalist like you?
- Don’t think bloggers are second-class citizens somehow. You want them to take you seriously, you take them seriously and extend any courtesy that you would extend to a member of print/TV/radio press.
- Make life easy for them. Have copyright-allowed images/audio/video on your site that they can use without asking you.
- Accept that bloggers don’t always have contact details on their websites. But there’s always a way. As you learn about blogging and social media you’ll find them.
- Accept that nothing you say is off-record and that every email you send the blogger may end up public. Ditto with phone calls
- Be honest with a blogger. Are you looking for a one-off hit with them or building a relationship?
- Remember the odds are that the blogger will Google the hell out of you before replying so make sure your online credibility is strong.
- It’s all a conversation. Always introduce yourself.
- Bloggers don’t sit wired to their keyboards 24/7 so don’t send information out at the last minute to them and expect it tweeted/facebooked or whatever instantly. These people have jobs, wives and lives too. (and for those who don’t have wives, they may have husbands, lovers, partners, pets or something/someone else special to them that takes up their time) (see comments)
- No, they won’t tell you what they paid for GoogleAds on their site (or how much they receive) and they probably won’t tell you how many people read a certain blog post either. Find another way to justify ROI.
- You do not, cannot, and never did, fully control the message. You can monitor and inform the message and what appears online but that’s it. (And yes, it’s a repeat of #1 but you would be amazed how hard it is for some people to accept this.)
Anything missed out? I’ve also written 15 Tips for bloggers dealing with PRs.
(thanks to Sarah Hartley, Conall McDevitt, Darragh Doyle, Sarah of Spoon PR and Tim Hayward for all hosting events recently and/or writing about this and jogging my memory to write this post)