5 Myths of Blogger Relations
May 10th, 2011 by Brian Posnanski
Did you hear the one about the blogger who interviewed seven different sources and then waited 24 hours to make sure she had the story right? Turned out she was a journalist.
But seriously folks… taking shots at “bloggers in bunny slippers” has become something of a national pastime. And yet from our vantage point in working with clients, especially tech companies, we have seen blogs take their place at (or at least near) the top of the media food chain. Blogs are media… yet different from other media. To help show how, we hereby puncture five myths about blogger relations:
1. Blogs aren’t as important or influential as traditional media. Today, blogs sit at the heart of the news cycle. They often break everything from political news to product rollouts. The best ones are (quite literally) always on. They keep their ear to the ground and have an itchy typing finger. Rare is the Apple product not first leaked by the rabid cult of Apple bloggers. Dell totally revamped its customer service thanks to the hubbub raised by one blogger. As traditional newsprint and broadcast space have shrunk, online media—and blogs especially—have picked up the slack. Blogs also drive action and online conversation. They get tweeted and Facebooked more often. In our experience, large to moderate-size blogs are much more likely to drive traffic to a client’s website than even a story in The New York Times. They also can be a huge influence on reporters (Matt Drudge, anyone?).
2. It’s free. Well, mostly, in that you don’t need to pay bloggers a fee to cover your news (otherwise known as advertising). But certain types of bloggers are increasingly being asked—or requesting—to play a role as consultants and advisors to brands. Many also accept payment for positive reviews. This phenomenon is especially true among mom or mommy bloggers. What started out as a hobby for thousands of moms to talk about child-rearing and running households has morphed into the emergence of mini-media groups sponsored by the likes of Microsoft and Proctor & Gamble, who understand the power of these blogs to reach an influential audience. Navigating this new world takes some doing. Recently, we chatted with the CMO of a major toy brand who said “at least” half of the mom bloggers who approached the company did so asking for fees (he kindly declined). If you entertain a paid relationship with a blogger, make sure the arrangement is publicly noted: the FTC is taking an interest in this trend.
3. I can pitch the same news to everyone. For years, journalists have exhorted (if not warned) PR people not to carpet-bomb them with news releases. They are talking about still very active PR practitioners who use media databases to indiscriminately blast out the same news release to hundreds, sometimes thousands, of reporters without knowing whether they cover their client’s beat. The rule against carpet-bombing holds doubly true for bloggers. Bloggers pride themselves on their idiosyncrasy. Two bloggers covering the same subject will not do so in the very same way. Consider environmental or “green” bloggers. One may cover advances in green transportation. Another may cover sustainable products for the home. And another may cover recycling. The only thing that’s guaranteed is that ten different bloggers will handle a subject ten different ways. Pitching blogs takes careful research and ongoing monitoring.
4. More blogs = more coverage. See #3. There are dozens of blogs for every subject, from craft beers to mobile marketing. This does not translate into an equivalent increase in coverage. There are craft beer blogs that cover only festivals, and those that only cover home-made beermaking. If you think they will cover your mid-size craft brewer launching a new ale, you are mistaken. Remember that most bloggers blog out of passion. They care—deeply—about what they are writing about. And passion is often the realm of the specific and detailed. Bloggers are often experts at what they cover. What hold true for pitching “traditional” media holds true for blogs: make sure you approach them with an angle that’s tailor-made.
5. Blogs will honor embargoes and advances. In the “good old days” of public relations, PR pros would often share news with reporters ahead of an official announcement, as long as they agreed to “embargo” or hold the news until a specific time and date. Such strategies allowed companies to make sure their big, breaking news got wide play with major news outlets. Thanks to uber-bloggers like Michael Arrington of Techcrunch, which flatly refuses to honor embargoes, the strategy of advance news sharing is not a reliable one with bloggers. Better to offer a straight-up exclusive to one blogger (meaning, you are only offering it to them) than risk the ire of many by requesting they hold it.
Ah, blogs. We love em. Have anything to add from your experience with bloggers? Let us know in the comments!Tags: Blogs, Content Marketing, Media Trends, social media