This past week has been an interesting one for students of public and blogger relations. We had the fallout from Robert Scoble’s latest temper tantrum about public relations. I do have an opinion, which you can find at the end of this post. Skip ahead if that’s all you are interested in.
This post is about blogger relations. And by that I mean the relationships companies form with regular bloggers. Their customers. Not journalists or celebrities.
This week, I noticed a marked increase in pitches, reflected by (unusually) my own inbox, items forwarded from friends and chatter on Twitter about (mostly) poor practice.
So, I thought it was a good time for a little refresher course in good blogger relations practice.
When I give my blogger relations workshops, I start with the following chart from Technorati’s 2008 State of the Blogosphere Report. While my issues with ranking systems in general and Technorati’s algorithms in particular are well documented here in Marketing Roadmaps, I thought the research about the bloggers in the 2008 report was quite valuable.
This particular chart answers the question, Why do you blog?
In class, I read a few of the most cited reasons before I deliver the punchline.
Nowhere on this list do we find:
Help companies promote their products and services.
Bloggers don’t mind helping you promote your products. Many of them welcome the opportunity to get closer to the companies whose products they use and love. Some monetize their blogs through advertising and would love to have yours. But that’s not WHY they blog. They blog to share their passions. They write about the things they care about.
Sadly, quite a lot of companies and agencies still miss this critical point. Let’s turn to the inbox for some examples.
- A bed manufacturer sent a pitch to parent bloggers essentially asking for free advertising for its contest on their blogs. Mechanically, this pitch is acceptable, if a bit dull; there were no mistakes in addressing in the multiple examples shared with me. But, why would a parent blogger write about this?
- A pitch from a fitness expert that exploits the television show Dancing with the Stars. The agency is one whose pitches regularly appear here as bad pitches. Among other things, full of typos. More importantly, who cares?
- Seen on Twitter: a discussion about a liquid soap product pitched as a Mother’s Day gift. Hey Mom, you stink.
- Child Safety Mistakes. I’ll let the badmommy blogger tell you about this one.
- From my own inbox, the exciting (sic) news: followed by a second email, same day, offering the photos. Hullo, have you ever read what I’ve said about Go Daddy on this blog? Apparently not.
And I have more in my “bad pitch” folder. So many more, it’s sad. That said, I also have a few good pitches from the past week. I’ll tell you about those tomorrow.
Next month, I’ll have a report on what AAA is doing in social media and a case study about the Nintendo Wii and Wii Fit blogger outreach.
Now to Scoble. I don’t have PR clients any more because I am focusing on blogger relations and social media engagement. If I were still actively practicing PR in the the tech space, I’m not sure if I would even pitch Scoble at this point. A PR person has to evaluate all the potential outlets for client news. Unless Scoble is the top number one outlet for the news, why even bother? Like Michael Arrington at Tech Crunch, he’s really looking for the exclusive, even if he hasn’t articulated it as clearly as Arrington has.
If Scoble is your A-number-one media target, by all means jump through the hoops. But if not? Focus on more productive targets. Heck, talk to some of your customers instead.
That, I can help you with.