Bloggers versus PR: Why can't we just all get along?
The answer is that we can get along, and very nicely, in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Where everyone benefits from the exchange, and neither party feels abused or taken advantage of.
The problem is that such an atmosphere is hard to come by.
Good relationships don't happen by themselves. It takes work on both sides to develop and nurture them, and they can be severely damaged by a poorly written email, an unthinking comment or an ill-conceived reply. Just like any relationship.
And when the relationship breaks down, sides form. It's all about who is right, who is wrong. Assigning blame.
Blecch. What a waste of time.
Sometimes PR and marketing people do send horrible, spammy email pitches. My email box is full of them -- the ones I get and the ones my readers forward to me. It's like trying to score on the first date. It's no way to start a long-lasting relationship. Even the better ones are often filled with pitchy language -- "message points" -- that are like poor pick-up lines. They sound good in front of the mirror, not so good in practice.
And bloggers aren't perfect either. Sometimes they over-react, classing simple mistakes as egregious errors, and respond with rants, negative posts and even blacklists. It may feel good to channel Peter Finch:
But it's not always productive. Sometimes it sets off a chain reaction that makes it near to impossible for the parties to ever form a positive relationship.
As I've said many times, it starts with respect. Mutual respect. Both sides must understand that this is a business relationship; both parties need to benefit. The company isn't doing the blogger a favor, and the blogger isn't doing one for the company. They are both getting something out of the deal. If not... it's a bad pitch.
And bad pitches are bad business. If a company has evaluated its promotional alternatives and made the decision that reaching out to bloggers is a smart business decision, it is such a waste to do it poorly.
So here are some tips that may help us all get along a bit better.
PR folks, re-read your emails before you send them. Ask yourself, is there enough value for the blogger in the pitch? Would I want to get this pitch? How would I feel if I got this pitch in my in-box? If the blogger asks you questions, don't feed them message points. Answer the questions. If the blogger tells you that the pitch was totally off base -- even if she rants -- just apologize and ask nicely what kinds of things she would be interested in. And then deliver. Don't spam her again.
Bloggers, if the pitch is off target, perhaps only slightly, tell the PR reps. They won't learn if no one tells them. I had a call a couple weeks ago with an agency who has been featured a couple times in my bad pitch series. They wanted to understand the problems with their pitches. Good for them for asking, and you can be sure I told them. Whether they make the long-term changes I suggested remains to be seen, but it was a start.
Now, if you, the blogger, reach out, and they, PR, push back inappropriately, as one PR person did when she told a friend that bloggers like to be addressed by their blog name instead of their own name, cross 'em off your list and move on. But sometimes, a really great relationship can start because people sorted out a mistake instead of shutting down.
Walk a mile in the other person's shoes. You'll be amazed at how far that will get you.
Here are a few recent posts from other folks that you might find interesting:
- Bloggers: Be Proactive in Educating PR Pros (Todd Defren)
- Building Quality Relationships Online (Kami Huyse)
- The Momosphere And Why Companies Want To Hire YOU! (Jill Asher)
- Blogger Relations Series (Toby Bloomberg)
Tags: blogger relations
Posted @ 4:08PM in Blogger relations
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