Note: this is the second of two guest-posts from PR guru-ess Cece Salomon-Lee on how Web 2.0 has changed the practice of PR. The first covered macro issues; this piece focuses on how PR professionals can best approach bloggers. This post was originally published on the WebMarketCentral blog in September 2007.
In my first post on PR and blogging, I had discussed the macro issues impacting the quality of outreach—both traditional media and blogging. I’ve been thinking about this topic over the past few weeks realized that good blogger relationships is one part doing your research, one part old school PR and one part transparency.
In some cases, bloggers will provide you with rules when contacting them. Some of these rules are included below, while others may be more specific to the blogger’s interest, for example, CK’s Rules for PR folks.
Based on these three components, here are 8 Tips about Blogging Outreach:
1. Bloggers are not journalists: One mistake is believing that bloggers are like journalists but they’re not. 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.
2. Read the blog first: Don’t assume that you know the content of the blog by the title. READ the blog, understand the tone. Is it serious or sarcastic? Informative or rants?
3. Develop 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. When you start corresponding with the blogger, maintain the relationship.
4. Be Transparent: Whether you’re commenting on a blog or contacting a blogger, be transparent about who you are and what your intentions are. And after Edelman’s recent blog fiascos (no link needed, just search on Edelman, blog fiasco and you’ll get thousands of results) and Comcast’s recent astroturfing incident, I wouldn’t recommend ghostwriting a blog on behalf of a client. Check out Lifehacker’s tips for commenting on blogs.
5. Customize your emails: If you’ve paid attention to points 1 and 2, then you’ll know how to write customized emails that appeal to the blogger. Be succinct and provide something of value. If I have to explain this more, then you need to take PR 101 all over again.
6. 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.
7. Don’t disregard the 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.
8. Read Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel: This book provides a great overview of the role that blogging now has, especially for businesses and customer conversations. At least read the the section about “Blogging Wrong & Right.”
Regarding point 4, I believe that PR’s role on blog comments is still in its infancy. Though I believe that blog comments should be from those who are working within the industry or are experts, I envision more PR folks stepping in, necessitating a different set of rules to follow.
In the end, Naked Conversations captures the essence of blogs well:
“One simple rule for doing it is be real. If you are going to blog, be authentic. Keep your conversations naked. Let people know who you are and where you are coming from.”
Note: Cece Salomon-Lee is the author of the PRMeetsMarketing blog.