She Said. He Said. On Blogger Relations.

10/20/2008

1.She_said_he_said She said to me - I don't think we're ready to build those relationships.
2. He said to me - How many of the bloggers will write about our product?
3. She said to me - How many people will read the posts?
4. He said to me - What about if they write negative posts?
5. She said to me - Why should we talk to bloggers when we can take out targeted ads?
6. He said to me - Why can't you guarantee that a percentage will write about our product?
7. She said to me - I want that blog that has a lot of readers.
8. He said to me - I don't have time to post comments.
9. She said to me - Can we track the hits from the blogs that write about our product?
10. He said to me - Here's the press release.
11. She said to me - Our product is important to their readers isn't that enough?
12. He said to me - Our PR media relations strategy isn't this complicated.
13. She said to me - When will they post about our product?
14. He said to me - This may be more risk than we are willing to take. Talk to me Q2 2009.

Reminder To Self - Social media marketing/blogger relations are still new concepts for many; and with that comes a learning curve.

Note To Brand Managers/CMOs - What happens if your competition learns faster than you?

Blogger Relations Series: Bloggers Talk To Agencies and Brands

09/05/2008

Pulse of the Industry: Blogger Relations Part V

Social media marketing combines the innovation of technology and the internet with an old fashion concept .. building customer loyalty by creating stronger relationships through understanding. However, social media as a new marketing strategy is more than a blog or a social network or a tweet. Unlike any marketing technique I know it involves reaching out and connecting with and to people.

Blogger relations is a new tactic that some say is it a form of public relations. Perhaps. Perhaps not. However, swirling around BR are many discussions on the expectations of bloggers, as well as, agencies and brands. Susan Getgood has written some great posts on the topic. I was curious to know what bloggers thought was the "right" way to reach out to them. I also wanted to know what agencies and brands have learned in the early stages of this emerging industry.

So I conducted an online survey and tapped a few bloggers, agency and brand people. 99 people participated. Since the research is not statistically valid let's call it an industry pulse check from the people who are working in social media. Their feedback is a good starting point to understanding expectations and continuing this critical conversation about how to create value for bloggers, their communities and our client brands.

Blogger_social_collage_march_5_low It seems appropriate that the last question in this series about Blogger Relations should go to the bloggers. Warning! This is a long post. However, the insights were so valuable that it was difficult to cut back much. Delicious the post and read at your leisure.

Part I: Blogger or Journalist Part II: Successful Blogger Relations Strategy Part III: Agencies Talk To Bloggers Part IV: Brands Talk To Bloggers Part V: Bloggers Talk To Agencies

Question: If you are a blogger ... what would you tell people on the agencies and the client side who ask you to participate in blogger relations strategies? 68 responses

The big take aways for me were:

  • Read my blog. Know who I am. Target to my interests. Personalize.
  • Provide value to me and my community.
  • Tell me about you. Ethics count.
  • Treat me with respect. Treat my community with respect.
  • It's a two-way conversation.

Katie Paine, hit the high notes, "Listen for a long time before you take action. Get a sense of the conversation. Only contribute what the blogger will see as valuable and relevant."  In her kind to be cruel way, Nicole Simon adviced, "Become less clueless. it is basically the same game, with new rules and new participants."

Read my blog. Know who I am. Target to my interests. Personalize.

Liz Strauss offered her insights to how bloggers are different from journalists and continued on on to tell how to create relationships with bloggers without spamming.

Most bloggers are not journalists in the way we view our readership. We view them as communities who share a bond of trust. We don't offer that relationship to someone we don't know. Email blasts insult us. If you don't know me or my blog, what you've sent is spam.

Carefully choose the bloggers you invite to that small gathering at that fine hotel for your client's product. The event won't do much if you invite us to something we don't blog about normally and the hosts aren't genuinely interested in getting to know us.

Corporate PR releases won't cut it with Nedra Weinreich. "Read my blog! Don't send me a corporate press release without showing how your products fits with my blog. A personalized pitch makes it more likely that I will respond." 

Nor will they entice Randall Moss. "I am happy to blog about your product or your service anytime, so long as you ask nicely and the content will fit into my general scope. If you send me an idea you can send me copy as well but please try and make it conversational and not a PR pitch. I can see through that and so can my readers."

Or ..

Mass pitches and straight press releases rarely work. Send me a personal email, let me know why this is relevant for me and why you chose to send it to me. Better yet, build a personal relationship with me before you actually need me for something. Finally, give me some kind of incentive or exclusivity. – Rohit

Or ..

Take the time to read my blog and know what it's about. I have a unique niche and don't respond well to mass-market pitches. – Sybil Stershic

Several people reinforced that that bloggers are not under any obligation to write about your company or brand. Keep WIFTM .. what's in it for me .. top of mind.

  • Read my blog first and stop freaking pestering me like I HAVE to write about what you're pitching. - Anonymous
  • Know my name and my blog. Don't delude yourself that I have any great desire to write about you to HELP YOU (BTW: journalists don't write about company to help the companies) Ask yourself what's in it for me, the blogger, not you, the company. – Anonymous

Read my blog ..Blog_read_blog read my blog .. read my blog - please! read my blog.

  • At least read my blog before you contact me (and look carefully on my blog for clues on how to contact me). And don't mass-email me from mailing lists you acquire. Ever. - Neville Hobson
  • Please try harder to target your efforts towards me versus just the rough pencil sketch of "blogger." Meaning, look at our last 10 or so blog posts to see if your relations pitch matches the person. - Anonymous
  • Please read the blog first and then contact me with educated questions. Otherwise, I feel like it's spam. - Cece Salomon-Lee
  • Read my blog and website, watch my YouTube videos, search for me on LinkedIn and Facebook and listen to my podcast before you contact me. – Jay Berkowitz
  • Read the blogs first, if you think it will be a good fit for your company or product then contact the creator of the blog. It's important to make sure that you both have a vision that is headed in a similar direction. Kinda like acquiring a new company. The Gap would probably never acquire Hot Topic because the long term vision is too diverse it's not a good fit. The same way with blogger relations. - Mei-Li Thomas
  • Understand our coverage area before pitching to us. - Anonymous
  • Don't waste my time with irrelevant pitches. - CB Whittemore

Relationships are important. Get to know me.

  • Relationships are everything. Get to know me before you pitch me. That doesn't mean we have to be personal best friends, but that you are acquainted with my blog, topics I cover and and interacted with me either through twitter, Facebook or email. - Paul Chaney
  • Get to know the blogger you're targeting. Just sending them a freebie isn't enough. – Rich Brooks
  • Please at least make an effort to seem like you're trying to personalize an approach - don't just do a mass e-blast and call that blogger relations. Anonymous
  • Since I straddle the two (agency/social media co and a blogger - will take a shot at this too) Its a two-way street here unlike traditional PR activities which were more push. Listen well, engage in REAL conversations, don't appear to 'spam', make yourself visible in the blogworld! Better still, start blogging yourself :) - Dina Mehta
  • Get to know the blogger before you ask for exposure on his\her blog. Strike up a relationship first, ask for favours second and make sure your requests add value to the blogger's community.- Mark Goren
  • Build a relationship with me; don't just tell me you are a "loyal reader". I would prefer to know you over time so we can trust each other. Becky Carroll
  • Start a conversation and begin a relationship before trying to sell me. Just like you (hopefully) would in person. Anonymous
  • Stay in continuous contact and understand that helping bloggers and the company better communicate and understand each other should be the main goal. – Anonymous

Not all bloggers welcome participating in a blogger relations program with a "stranger." "Don't bother. I write what I want anyway. Just be my friend. You'll have better luck that way." Anonymous

  • As a blogger, I would tell social media marketers to use 80% education/inspiration/entertainment and only 20% or less sales promotion when interacting with the blogosphere (including micro-blogs like Twitter, Pownce, Plurk, Jaiku). A company or ad agency should delegate the job of interacting with bloggers and social networks to people who have a genuine passion for the problems their products solve, and not just sales of the product.

Contribute relevant insights and helpful tips, and only rarely, almost reluctantly, hype a product, and even then only "product as solution", as when someone is seeking a digital voice recorder, for example. Steven E. Streight

Provide value to me. Provide value to my community.

  • Give them (my community) the same attention they have given you, by reading my blog and taking further action to learn more about you and your products/services. - Roxanne Darling

In addition to offering dos and don'ts BL Ochman also reminded us, "The bottom line is that nothing you say matters if your product sucks."

  • No Dear Blogger emails - read the blog and know what we write about. Hint: most of us list the categories we cover - no embargos that allow bloggers to run a story after MSM - Google the bloggers on your list so you know if they've covered your client's competitor - don't say "because your Alexa ranking is amazing" I think you'll want to cover this (I'm not making that up. It was in an email pitch last week.)

Don't send a 500-word pitch. - Don't pitch. Inform. - Give me a heads up BEFORE you give the story to everyone and her dog or don't bother me.

What is "Value?"  Junk_man_cart As the junk man says - what is of value to one person may be trash to someone else. In blogger relations relevancy for the blogger and her community plays a big role in what matters.

  • Give us early access, give us lots of information and images. let us give feedback and know that it will make a difference. Listen, track, and monitor what people are saying. Make sure someone can answer questions as they come up. – Tris Hussey
  • Provide value, be authentic, show personality, include humor and focus on building relationships. - Anonymous
  • Emphasize facts and access, not packaged PR - most of us can tell the difference ... - Marc Danziger
  • Give me content that I could use - give me data, give me research, figure - that's what helps me. Don't give me press releases. Rajesh Lalwani
  • Don't send me junk. Don't send me the same thing you sent 25 -100 other bloggers. Let me actually help you by giving me what I want: good content, access to leadership and some level of exclusivity. Drew McLellan
  • Give them the two definitions, find out what their goals are, as those goals will determine the strategy, conduct an audit of the community and the company, for scope of what needs to be done, and to understand the capabilities of the company. Is someone available who should write, can they write well, can they write the amount that will be sufficient within the community? – John Cass
  • I only have relevance to my readers because I act as a filter for them. If you can help me to do that, then we may have something to talk about. But there does need to be an exchange of value. It is not just about "news". - Anonymous
  • Please be relevant to me and my readers. - Becky Carroll
  • Connect me to the product or service and don't ask me to blog about the product or service. I will do so if I feel like there is some value to my readers. – Marianne Richmond
  • Stop looking at me as a target, send me stuff that will make me look smart and informed when I share it. - Kami Huyse
  • Don't ask a blogger to blog about your products. Instead, post rich, relevant, altruistic comments on her blog that demonstrate your expertise and credibility as an innovator or industry leader. Such enriching, or even comical, comments will inspire the blogger to check out your ecommerce site and perhaps try your product or alert others to your company. - Steven E. Streight
  • The strategy needs to be something that is consistent with my current goals - Sherry Heyl
  • I am not going to lie for you or shill for you. I will offer my honest opinion, but only if I think that the product or service is something my audience is interested in. - Alan Wolk
  • Show real value. Illustrate that you know me and know what I write about. Hey, these are the same rules we've had for traditional media relations. Sadly, too few seem to be following the rules. In fact, it seems that the number of bad actors increases exponentially each year. - Robert French
  • Military history is written by the winners. Capitalistic history will be written by the bloggers. Make sure the product or service is serving the triple bottom line of economics, environment and social good. The last thing you need is to draw permanent attention to the product (and company) that brought destruction to the planet or society. If your product doesn't serve the triple bottom line, then don't take to bloggers. – Mary Hunt
  • That I would be happy to "play" as long as our goals mesh and our audience is similar. I don't have time to spend promoting things that have nothing to do with my long range goals. - Heidi Richards
  • I actually get these too, as a blogger. I have many contacts in the industry and elsewhere and periodically get requests to help them spread a message. It's always very flattering and if I believe in it, I will blog about it and help distribute the message.

I tell folks that I don't like to advertise unless it is something I believe in. My readers expect that, so I don't mention anything that I don't actually believe in or support. I get offers to advertise on my blogs, for pay, but so far I haven't found any of those offers to be anything I actually support. – Tim Jackson

  • If it is relevant and it helps me forward my own goals, I am fine with it. But as journalists have been saying for decades - do your homework, read the blog. Make sure you don't pitch off topic ideas that mean nothing to me or my readers. - Sally Falkow
  • Make sure that the product is germaine to my area & community. – Anonymous
  • Give me samples to share or loan out so my audience can try the products, make mashup videos, etc. Give me access to one or more of your execs/tech staff to interview and add a real face to the company. Give them some reign to discuss things besides the product itself. Think out of the box. An in-depth project or campaign with a specialist in your space might have much more ROI than a scattershot approach that is far less personal.- Roxanne Darling

Tell me about you. Ethics count.

If blogger relations is about building relationships it would be wise toWomen_whispering listen to Shel Israel. "This is not one directional. It is conversational or the program is likely to fail."

The social media mantra: honesty, transparency, authenticity is also two directional. Bloggers hold brands managers and agencies people to the same standards that they impose on themselves.

  • Always be authentic and I believe you increase "trust" in your business! I always think of blogging as an online resume or meeting and stay aware of professional boundaries (Don't think it's local bar, it's more like the old office watercooler.) If you're going to participate I believe you need to be approachable and converse - it's a 2 way dialog (if not you may actually create a negative backlash). - Cyndee Haydon
  • Be up front and transparent and don't waste my time. – Anonymous
  • Don't hide behind anonymity. Come out, use your real name, and engage with people. Put up an About section and personalize it with names, photos and short bios. Focus on building relationships with people, too. It may seem risky, but in the end you will be better off. – Anita Campbell
  • That they have to make the transition from safe disembodied corporate prose to one with a strong voice, strong opinions, and caring about the world. – Jane Geneva
  • We value transparency and complete disclosure. - Prashant Kew
  • To tell me you have someone senior, preferably several, in your team who is blogging regularly and with whom I would be able to discuss directly and frankly any stresses that arise in the relationship. - Des Walsh
  • Be reader-focused and genuine to your principles and beliefs in the subject matter. - Elaine Fogel
  • Be straight up. I don't expect you to know how all this works, though I do expect you to be honest with me about your goals and tactics and where I fit in.

Inform your partners and engage them. If you are a manufacturer, integrate your dealer network. If you are in consumer products, integrate your retailers and sales staff. Train them in advance (some bloggers like myself offer training and coaching), get them ready to participate and capture those leads on the spot.- Roxanne Darling

Treat Me With Respect. Treat My Community With Respect.

The Big R Word .. Respect was repeated many times through out multiple questions. Some people felt that brands/agencies don't "get" that most bloggers do not get a pay check for writing their blogs. It takes time to write a post and time does not always = money.

  • Treat bloggers with the respect they deserve as influential media. - Carolyn Wilman
  • Time is as important or more so, than money. Please be available to participate in the conversation on my blog; don't expect me to answer technical questions that you could do better. - Roxanne Darling
  • Once again, it's all about educating readers and connecting them with each other, NOT promoting a product or brand. It's a tricky wire to walk for brands - how do you sponsor without seeming biased? -  Michele Miller
  • Respect the fact I owe you nothing. Any reason I choose to work with you is because I believe in your product/service. Recognize I did not establish myself as a blogger to be a clearing house for your public relations or advertising needs. You don't get to set the rules. I do.

So, the one question you need to ask me is, "What are your goals for your blog and your readership and how can we work together to achieve a good fit, because we'd like to talk to your readership?" - Susan Cartier Liebel

  • I need to ask if it's paid, they seem to take our time and input for granted. - Anonymous

Yvonne DiVita suggests that new bloggers may not care about the "relationship" but rather the ego stroking by a popular brand's notice.

  • New bloggers who don't care about blogger relations...they just want to tell friends a major brand approached them to blog. imho they will take over and true blogger relations will fall by the wayside. interestingly, fan bloggers are the best people to engage for blogger relations...those of us who have large blog networks may know the ins and outs of how PR should approach us, but...as time goes on, PR will not need to approach us. they will have all the bloggers they need, in the general populace.

To pay or not to pay .. that is the question.

  • Finally, never pay or otherwise compensate bloggers or comment posters to attack your competitors or praise your company, as in PayPerPost. Incentivized opinions are detrimental to the blogosphere, because they break the Trust Web of peer-to-peer recommendations. - Steven E. Streight

Alanna Kellog commented that even if a blogger agrees to write about a brand or book or event the blogger decides what to say and when to say it.

  • If you want to reach a blog's readers -- and control the message and the timing -- buy an ad. - Alanna Kellogg

Merrill Dubrow reinforced the benefits of blogs.

  • It is the latest communication tool that allows you in real time to gain reaction to anything and everything you could ever imagine which allows you to get a pulse on a new product or service for your client - Merrill Dubrow

Bringing it back to what's is all about .. combining a blogger's interest with those of his community.

  • Write about what you want to write keeping in mind your target audience but without compromising the integrity of your blog. - The Marketing Girl
  • Be very clear on your intentions for blogging - the Who, Why, What, and Where - that forms your existence and relationships. Then stay true to your intentions. Do not take comments "personally" - it's not about you. You can be "right" or you can make a difference. - Cynthia Holladay
  • As a blogger, I would tell social media marketers to use 80% education/inspiration/entertainment and only 20% or less sales promotion when interacting with the blogosphere (including micro-blogs like Twitter, Pownce, Plurk, Jaiku).

A company or ad agency should delegate the job of interacting with bloggers and social networks to people who have a genuine passion for the problems their products solve, and not just sales of the product.
Contribute relevant insights and helpful tips, and only rarely, almost reluctantly, hype a product, and even then only "product as solution", as when someone is seeking a digital voice recorder, for example.
Don't ask a blogger to blog about your products. Instead, post rich, relevant, altruistic comments on her blog that demonstrate your expertise and credibility as an innovator or industry leader. Such enriching, or even comical, comments will inspire the blogger to check out your ecommerce site and perhaps try your product or alert others to your company. - Steven E. Streight

Ann Handley's response is a great end game wrap up that concludes this series.

  • My sense is that companies who have successful blogger relations outreach have acknowledged bloggers and blogging, and have acknowledged the affect each can have on their business. To that end, they have reached out to blogs/bloggers who cover their space in an effort to get to know them, but not to control or censor what the blogger ultimately writes.
  • I do make a distinction between journalists and bloggers. Journalists have a responsibility to present all sides of an issue, and should at least attempt to keep their bias at bay. Bloggers are free to have an opinion and a point of view.

Thank_you_chocolate.. to the pioneers of social media .. all of you .. who are forging new ways to make business personal and accountable while adding value for your customers.

.. to the 99 people who kindly responded.The following agreed to be quoted and publicly acknowledged.

Michele Miller WonderBranding
Mei-Li Thomas, No Fear, Just DIVA
Paul Chaney, Conversational Media Marketing
Kim Haynes, Texas Gal Ramblings
Des Walsh Des Walsh dot com
Alan Wolk The Toad Stool
Elaine Fogel, Solutions Marketing and Consulting
David J. Neff, American Cancer Society; Sharing Hope TV
Steven E. Streight aka Pluperfecter (formerly known as Vaspers the Grate)
Nicole Simons, Cruel To Be Kind
Sherry Heyl, Concept Hub, Inc
Ike Pigott, Occam's RaaR
Mary Hunt, In Women We Trust

Yigal Cohen, Linx Analyst and Blogger Relations
Susan Cartier Liebel, Building Solo Practice University
Liz Strauss, Successful and Outstanding Blog(gers)
Robert French, infOpinions?
Cynthia Holladay, UpRight Marketing
Alanna Kellogg, Veggie Eventure; Kitchen Parade
Yvonne Divita, Lip-sticking
Jay Berkowitz, Ten Golden Rules
Heidi Richards Mooney, WE Magazine for Women
Tim Jackson, Masi Bicycles  Masiguy Podcast
Marc Meyer, Direct Response Marketing Observations
Mark Goren, Transmission Content + Creative
Sally Falkow, PRoactive  Leading Edge on the Daily Dog
John Cass Author of Strategies & Tools for Corporate Blogging Blogger at PR Communications

Shel Israel, Global Neighbourhoods
Ann Handley, Annarchy; Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog
Francois Gossieaux, Emergence Marketing
Erin K Vest, Queen of Spain
David Berkowitz, Inside the Marketers Studio,

Kate Spencer, Fordham University
Ed Gaston, Chrysler
Michael Rubin, Blog Council
Cyndee Haydon, Clearwater Real Estate Tampa Homes
Katie Paine, KDPaine's PR MeasurementBlog
Drew McLellan, Drew's Marketing Minute
Anita Campbell Small Business Trends
Rich Brooks, Flyte
Jane Genova, JaneGenova.com Law and More
Marianne Richmond, Resonance Partnership
Becky Carroll, Customers Rock
CB Whittemore, Flooring The Consumer  The Carpetology Blog
Roxanne Darling Partner, Bare Feet Studios Bare Feet Blog
Dave Williams, Co-Founder, 360i

Tris Hussey, A View From The Isle
Kami Huyse, Communication Overtones
B.L. Ochman What's Next Blog
Carolyn Wilman Contest Queen

Rajesh Lalwani, Blog Works

Dave Taylor, Ask Dave Taylor
Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing
Nancy White, Full Circle
Neville Hobson, NevilleHobson.com
Nedra Weinreich, Spare  Change blog
Dina Mehta, Conversations with Dina
Rohit, Influential Marketing Blog

Prashant, Markitechture
Katherine Malone, Fleishman-Hillard
Randal Moss, American Cancer Society; Community Mobilization
Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing
Merrill Dubrow, M/A/R/C The Merrill Dubrow Blog

Graphic Thanks to CK for the Blogger Social and Blue Chip.

Part I: Blogger or Journalist Part II: Successful Blogger Relations Strategy Part III: Agencies Talk To Bloggers Part IV: Brands Talk To Bloggers Part V: Bloggers Talk To Agencies

Blogger Relations Series:The "Brands" Talk To Bloggers

08/22/2008

Pulse of the Industry: Blogger Relations Part IV

Socialmedia_sudoko Social media is growing up .. as an industry and as a marketing strategy. From blogs to widgets to social networks and micro blogging marketers are exploring how to tap into the communication tools that were not developed for business tactics. But were created for communication between and among people. Just people.

Along the way, we (I'm in this deal with you!) marketers realized that the people who were using these, let's call them "tools" - you know what they are .. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, and the zillions of other social networks that are launching daily .. might be an interesting way to reach people who might care about our brands. So we began to read, build relationships and reach out to bloggers who were interested in the topics that we and our clients were .. like cars, parenting, photography, etc. What happened was a new marketing tactic emerged: Blogger Relations.

I was curious to know:

    * Who was doing it right and who was doing it wrong

    * What did agencies want from bloggers and what did bloggers want from agencies

    * and most of all how could we work together for the benefit of the communities

I conducted an online survey among bloggers, agency and brand people. 99 people participated. Since the research is not statistically valid let's call it an industry pulse check from the people who are involved in the space. Their insights are thoughtful and the learnings they shared significant.

To thank those who kindly gave their time and to help our community understand this evolving industry I'll be posting the findings over the next few weeks. This is part IV in the series Part I: Blogger or Journalist Part II: Successful Blogger Relations Strategy Part III: Agencies Talk To Bloggers.

Brandalphabet Question: If you are working with an agency/social media company ... what do you want to tell Bloggers when it comes to blogger relations? 29 responses.

Important to people who worked on the client-side were building relationships, values, respect and a willingness to learn what bloggers wanted. We are no longer in the wild wild west of social media and "etiquette" and we should be playing nicely together. One respondent even took bloggers to task for what she considered inappropriate behavior.

The big take-aways for me were:

Relationships are based on communication. Educate us about what you want and need.

Have patience.

Respect

Values are important

Etiquette Is Important - Please Play Nicely

For C.B. Whittemore if you are a consistent participant in the conversation blogger relations happens naturally. "I''m connecting as a blogger. Plus, not that many in the space so formal blogger relations haven't been necessary."

Relationships are based on communication. Tell us what you want and need. More than a ‘campaign.’ Educate. Patience

Tim Jackson feels that the phrase developing a relationship is over used but it "really applies." People like to do business with people they like and trust. As Tim says, "I get many bloggers spreading my message FOR me because they "like me" and don't see me as cramming things into their faces. It's built on sharing and conversation for me."

Blogger relations is not a campaign in of itself. It's a process, and needs to be thought of in broad strokes and in the long term. - Michael E. Rubin

Just like with any relationship, tell those trying to engage you what you want -- what you want to know about and what you don't, how you want to be approached and what annoys you, what you consider valuable to your work, etc. It'll help lower the number of totally off-base pitches and help everyone get what they want. - Anonymous

From the client side, I think we mean well. Sometimes the company is "green" and needs to be educated. Sometimes the company won't learn. The question is how do you differentiate the two? – Anonymous

There needs to be two way education -- and we need to learn to speak each others' language. – Anonymous

Be patient, companies are only now understanding how to handle bloggers. - Cece Salomon-Lee

I want them to know that we respect them, we read them and we want to be a part of the conversation around our Brand. The good and the bad. If we do something bad, tell us. If you do something bad, trust me I will let you know! - David J. Neff

Start a conversation and begin a relationship before trying to sell me. Just like you (hopefully) would in person. – Anonymous

We're listening, and want to talk with them to improve what we offer. – Anonymous
Simply, I believe what I am working is of value to your (the blogger's) audience which is why I'm contacting you. If you agree that it is cool, please spread the gospel. I will reach out to you only if I feel what I want to communicate adds value to your audience. We believe in a mutual exchange/benefit! Prashant Kew

I want to tell them about my company, and myself as its founder. For me, they are one and the same. – Anonymous

Willing to work with bloggers to provide their side of a story.

Respect

Neville Hobson's simple promise should underscore any out reach, "I promise not to spam you and will treat you with respect." Yvonne DiVita reminds us that respect is what opens doors to communication. "That they will always be respected, that their open, honest comments are very valuable, and that there is an open door to communication for and with them."

Another respondent felt strongly that respect is a critical factor to building a relationship and insults do not foster friendships.

Relationships are built on mutual respect. As a representative of my company, I'm committed to showing respect to any blogger with whom I wish to communicate. The reverse is true, too -- for a blogger to insult (not merely criticize) my company and then expect for my company to engage in a dialog with him or her is unreasonable. - Anonymous

Following up on the noise of SEO releases (just for the sake of search engine placement), follow the rules. Don't be stupid! Respect others as you would like to be respected. Scattershot releases and contacts are causing more harm than good. – Robert French

Values

As with agencies values such as honesty and transparency were important to several "brand" respondents. Also appreciated was an effort to represent companies/brands fairly.

Be honest. - Kate Spencer

Please don't masquerade as someone other than who you really are. – Anonymous

If you consider yourselves journalists, strive for accuracy and perspective. We're anxious to work with you. If you have a question, please come directly to us. We're more than happy to give you accurate information. – Anonymous

Just tell the truth, spark controversy, add value to the conversation, avoid trolls and spammers, and be fair to all. Before complaining about a product or company, do all you can to resolve an issue directly with the company. If the company ignores you, or is obviously unethical or uncooperative, then you can rant against them if you feel others need to be warned. - Steven E. Streight

Etiquette Etiquette - Play Nicely Please

Susan Cartier Liebel reminded us that we are no longer in the wild wild west of social media. "There is an etiquette. Failure to follow the etiquette can quickly tarnish your name and your ability to effectively use blogging as a way to promote yourself, your services, your brand."   

Even though blogging is much more casual than writing for more mainstream forms of media, they should act professionally. – Carolyn Wilman

Get both sides of the story - be objective. Tell the story and stop trying to be a tabloid. – Anonymous

Next up last of the series and the bloggers will have the last word.

Thanks to the 99 people who kindly responded. The following agreed to be quoted and publicly acknowledged.

Michele Miller WonderBranding
Mei-Li Thomas, No Fear, Just DIVA
Paul Chaney, Conversational Media Marketing
Kim Haynes, Texas Gal Ramblings
Des Walsh Des Walsh dot com
Alan Wolk The Toad Stool
Elaine Fogel, Solutions Marketing and Consulting
David J. Neff, American Cancer Society; Sharing Hope TV
Steven E. Streight aka Pluperfecter (formerly known as Vaspers the Grate)
Nicole Simons, Cruel To Be Kind
Sherry Heyl, Concept Hub, Inc
Ike Pigott, Occam's RaaR
Mary Hunt, In Women We Trust

Yigal Cohen, Linx Analyst and Blogger Relations
Susan Cartier Liebel, Building Solo Practice University
Liz Strauss, Successful and Outstanding Blog(gers)
Robert French, infOpinions?
Cynthia Holladay, UpRight Marketing
Alanna Kellogg, Veggie Eventure; Kitchen Parade
Yvonne Divita, Lip-sticking
Jay Berkowitz, Ten Golden Rules
Heidi Richards Mooney, WE Magazine for Women
Tim Jackson, Masi Bicycles  Masiguy Podcast
Marc Meyer, Direct Response Marketing Observations
Mark Goren, Transmission Content + Creative
Sally Falkow, PRoactive  Leading Edge on the Daily Dog
John Cass Author of Strategies & Tools for Corporate Blogging Blogger at PR Communications

Shel Israel, Global Neighbourhoods
Ann Handley, Annarchy; Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog
Francois Gossieaux, Emergence Marketing
Erin K Vest, Queen of Spain
David Berkowitz, Inside the Marketers Studio,

Kate Spencer, Fordham University
Ed Gaston, Chrysler
Michael Rubin, Blog Council
Cyndee Haydon, Clearwater Real Estate Tampa Homes
Katie Paine, KDPaine's PR MeasurementBlog
Drew McLellan, Drew's Marketing Minute
Anita Campbell Small Business Trends
Rich Brooks, Flyte
Jane Genova, JaneGenova.com Law and More
Marianne Richmond, Resonance Partnership
Becky Carroll, Customers Rock
CB Whittemore, Flooring The Consumer  The Carpetology Blog
Roxanne Darling Partner, Bare Feet Studios Bare Feet Blog
Dave Williams, Co-Founder, 360i

Tris Hussey, A View From The Isle
Kami Huyse, Communication Overtones
B.L. Ochman What's Next Blog
Carolyn Wilman Contest Queen

Rajesh Lalwani, Blog Works

Dave Taylor, Ask Dave Taylor
Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing
Nancy White, Full Circle
Neville Hobson, NevilleHobson.com
Nedra Weinreich, Spare  Change blog
Dina Mehta, Conversations with Dina
Rohit, Influential Marketing Blog

Prashant, Markitechture
Katherine Malone, Fleishman-Hillard
Randal Moss, American Cancer Society; Community Mobilization
Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing
Merrill Dubrow, M/A/R/C The Merrill Dubrow Blog

Part I: Blogger or Journalist Part II: Successful Blogger Relations Strategy Part III: Agencies Talk To Bloggers Part IV: Brands Talk To Bloggers Part V: Bloggers Talk To Agencies

Thanks to Grafiko for the alphabet graphic and to Toroller for the sudoku social media graphic.

Blogger Relations Series: Agencies Talk To Bloggers

08/15/2008

Pulse of the Industry: Blogger Relations Part III

In the spring of 2004, when Diva Marketing launched, social media marketing was not even a buzz word. In the business world of new media blogs were the big deal along with a vague notion of RSS. Podcasts and videos were beginning to find their place as more than just a cool new toy. Flash four years into the Future Is Now and writing a few blogs posts, recording a podcast, taping a video or joining a social network are only a few of the tactics that marketers have to choose from in their social media marketing tool box.

A few surprisDo_not_close_minds_signes have come along with the growth of social media. One big surprise is the extent of influence that people providing the content for blogs, podcasts, vlogs and social networking communities enjoy within their communities. Influenced was/is based on relationships.

Marketers are tapping into that concept and what is emerging is a new strategy that we are calling - Blogger Relations or BR. The halo effect from a post or a video about a brand may be more beneficial to changing perception and encouraging purchasing than a traditional ad or PR campaign.

I was curious to know:

  • Who was doing it right and who was doing it wrong
  • What did agencies want from bloggers and what did bloggers want from agencies
  • and most of all how could we work together for the benefit of the communities

99 people participated in an online survey. Since the research is not statistically valid let's call it an industry pulse check from the people who are involved in the space. Their insights are thoughtful and the learnings they shared significant.

To thank those who kindly gave their time and to help our community understand this evolving industry I'll be posting the findings over the next few weeks. This is part III in the series Part I: Blogger or Journalist Part II: Successful Blogger Relations Strategy.

Blogger Relations On Its Way To Main Stream Marketing

With almost all, 90%, respondents anticipating that they will be involved in a blogger relations strategy within the next 12-months, it seems as though BR is positioned to become an accepted marketing tactic.

Total response: 100% - 99 out of 99
Yes - 90%
No - 10%

Madison_ave Question: If you are working with an agency/social media company ... what do you want to tell Bloggers when it comes to blogger relations?

There has been much written from the view point of bloggers about how they would like to be treated. However, I wondered what would agencies and consultants say to bloggers about their side of blogger relations.  

37 responded
43 self selected they worked for an agency/social media consultant and were bloggers. I don't know the total non bloggers who worked for an agency/social media consultancy.

Responses ranged from talk about values to reminders that we are still early in the game and to be patient to ideas how to work together. According to Drew McLellan, " I think everyone has to find a way to the middle. I don't think posting black lists is right. Nor do I think badgering bloggers is right."

The big take-aways for me were:

  • Concern about values
  • Post blogger relations policies
  • Give feedback
  • Reminder that we are early in the game and are learning together
  • Agencies should be part of the conversation
  • Respect

Values

It was important for that bloggers are real, transparent and authentic. Marc Meyer put it this way, "Be genuine. Think openly. write down any and all ideas. Keep an open mind and be respectful of other people's thoughts, ideas and opinions."

Be real! Even if you aren't (a real person). Genuine emotion and a willingness to share and address all sides of issues will win you acceptance. Also, don't use SEO releases. It just adds noise and devalues the worth of 'real' releases. -  Robert French

Listen first, build on what's there. Do not try to reinvent the wheel. - Katie Paine

Never become self-absorbed. It shows and your page views will immediately plummet. - Jane Genova

Be frequent. Be relative. Be real. - Kim Haynes

What goes around comes around. But always be authentic or you will lose your audience. - Alan Wolk

Be transparent. – Kate Spencer

Be transparent. A good company does not want fake hype as it will be exposed in time and will not have lasting value to either party. * Be fair. It's less important what your opinion is, more important that you evaluate things from your perspective, documented when possible, and handled maturely. * Ask yourself frequently - what's your point? Know that, communicate that, adhere to that. Consistency gives cred; the details are secondary. - Roxanne Darling

Feedback

Most agree that this is a path we are forging .. together. The rules are being defined with each new out reach and what worked today for one blogger may not work tomorrow for another. But what happens when someone makes a mistake or doesn't know the rules?

Respondents asked for feedback and help understanding what individual bloggers want. Dave Taylor put it, " Cut the "new pr people some slack for mistakes, but flakes flacks need to pay attention and respect bloggers too, not just do the same "paid by the # of releases sent out" goofiness."

Be patient - this is an emerging area and we're all trying to figure it out. Don't be so quick to criticize; offer suggestions rather than excoriating us. Anonymous

I have worked with an agency before as the emerging media guy who connects with bloggers. I would want to tell them to give PR people a break and realize that they are NOT EVIL. Instead of reacting like a pissy little child, how about reacting like an adult and helping to educate him/her about how they can do their job better? - Michael E. Rubin

To provide constructive criticism - those of us who are "doing it right" so to speak are always looking to do better, and present opportunities that are beneficial to both the client we represent as well as the blogger - often we are willing to be flexible to work with the blogger to make that happen.
I would love to hear more candid feedback from the bloggers I work with regarding how they'd like to be pitched, the kinds of opportunities they'd like, and what works for them - I'd love to accommodate as best I can, and offer opportunities that are relevant to them. – Anonymous

We want your insights - not coverage on your blog. Give us your feedback. We don't want to influence your feedback - be true to yourself. We don't want to lure you with gifts - try the product, and return if you think of it as a bribe. - Rajesh

Work with us - if we approach you in an offensive/unnecessary way please tell us. it's a new media and the rules haven't been set (yet) – Anonymous

What Do Bloggers Want?

Kami Huyse suggested that, "Bloggers need to be clear about their preferences for companies that want to share information." A solution would be to pick up on Roxane Darling suggestion of posting a Blogger Relations Policy page or as Rohit called it a pitch page.

The more info you can provide upfront somewhere on your blog about how you prefer to be contacted and what topics you are interested in hearing about, the more likely you will get relevant pitches. - Nedra Weinreich

Make it easy for us to learn about you and your likes and dislikes and we can tailor our "relations" to you much better.
Often the information that could give us these clues is hidden and we have to struggle to find it.
If your pet peeve is getting press releases about product launches, let us know in a prominent way linked from your homepage (such as a "how to pitch me" page off your about page) and the good agencies will respect that. When that fact is hidden in a blog post you made 3 years ago, it's almost impossible for your regular readers to find it, much less any agency person just getting familiar with your blog. – Rohit

I want them to tell me what is ok and what is cheap promotion. I want them, since it is their media outlet, to share with me what is appropriate and what is cheapening their space. What incentives are good and what constitutes selling out. – Anonymous

Hugh_gaping_void__blog_consultant Interacting With Agencies

Neville Hobson's response hit's the high notes - "I promise not to spam you and will treat you with respect."

I know who you are because I read you. I know what you are looking for because I understand. Sometimes, I think my agency has some content you might like to see. – Shel Israel

Work with us - if we approach you in an offensive/unnecessary way please tell us. it's a new media and the rules haven't been set (yet) – Anonymous

I think the bloggers need to be easy to access like "standard" media. I wish there was a way to send out a media release enmasse to bloggers. – Carolyn Wilman

Much as a good relationship between a reporter and PR can benefit both parties, so can a good relationship with a blogger. A relationship with us could get you great content. Example, we recently got an interview with someone a blogger was over the moon to speak to, and she would not have gotten that interview without us. - Sally Falkow

It's all about making sure the message or the connection adds value for all parties. - Sherry Heyl

There is a fine line when it comes to pitching a product versus engaging a blogger to discuss the product/service/client with you and their audience. Realizing that there are agencies out there that read your blog for more than just the opportunity to have you highlight a product, that is where the mutual respect comes in. We regularly read your blog because your industry is our client's industry.

Your interests and passions are our client's interests and passions (and sometimes our own, too!). We look for client opportunities, sure. That is our job. But ultimately, we are mostly there to further the conversation amongst you, our client, and all the other interested parties out there. Sharing information and sharing that passion - that is where blogger relations turn into an actual relationship between a blogger, an agency and their client. - Anonymous

It is important to develop highly customized and personalized programs for bloggers and not just a cut and paste program being executed by interns. This could be your most important PR strategy. - Dave Williams

A few comments reinforced that blogger relations is a different game .. one where more than your client's reputation can be involved. The agency has skin in the game too.

We know that our reputation is always on the line, and that keeps us especially rigorous in customized outreach, relationship-building, and being 100% transparent. It's a tremendous amount of risk we take in engaging with bloggers. If a PR person writes a bad pitch to the journalist, the worst that'll happen is the journalist ignores it. With bloggers, the upside's great but the risk is much higher. David Berkowitz

We understand that your blog is your territory and we very much appreciate it when you're willing to talk about our clients there. – Anonymous

Be Part of The Conversation

A few people felt that actively participating in the conversation was important too.

Join the conversation first. - Jay Berkowitz

As an agency it is critical that I blog too - so I have my own credibility and my own space to share "me" and not just my product/brand or service, rather than pushing out tactical messages in-the-cold. This way, when I do have messages to send out, they follow a more natural flow that bloggers are comfortable with. – Dina Mehta

Rich Brook's comment appropriately concludes Phase III of the Blogger Relations Series

You must give before you can expect to receive.

Next up - Phase IV Blogger Relations Series: Bloggers Talk To Agencies

Thanks to the 99 people who kindly responded. The following agreed to be quoted and publicly acknowledged.

Michele Miller WonderBranding
Mei-Li Thomas, No Fear, Just DIVA
Paul Chaney, Conversational Media Marketing
Kim Haynes, Texas Gal Ramblings
Des Walsh Des Walsh dot com
Alan Wolk The Toad Stool
Elaine Fogel, Solutions Marketing and Consulting
David J. Neff, American Cancer Society; Sharing Hope TV
Steven E. Streight aka Pluperfecter (formerly known as Vaspers the Grate)
Nicole Simons, Cruel To Be Kind
Sherry Heyl, Concept Hub, Inc
Ike Pigott, Occam's RaaR
Mary Hunt, In Women We Trust

Yigal Cohen, Linx Analyst and Blogger Relations
Susan Cartier Liebel, Building Solo Practice University
Liz Strauss, Successful and Outstanding Blog(gers)
Robert French, infOpinions?
Cynthia Holladay, UpRight Marketing
Alanna Kellogg, Veggie Eventure; Kitchen Parade
Yvonne Divita, Lip-sticking
Jay Berkowitz, Ten Golden Rules
Heidi Richards Mooney, WE Magazine for Women
Tim Jackson, Masi Bicycles  Masiguy Podcast
Marc Meyer, Direct Response Marketing Observations
Mark Goren, Transmission Content + Creative
Sally Falkow, PRoactive  Leading Edge on the Daily Dog
John Cass Author of Strategies & Tools for Corporate Blogging Blogger at PR Communications

Shel Israel, Global Neighbourhoods
Ann Handley, Annarchy; Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog
Francois Gossieaux, Emergence Marketing
Erin K Vest, Queen of Spain
David Berkowitz, Inside the Marketers Studio,

Kate Spencer, Fordham University
Ed Gaston, Chrysler
Michael Rubin, Blog Council
Cyndee Haydon, Clearwater Real Estate Tampa Homes
Katie Paine, KDPaine's PR MeasurementBlog
Drew McLellan, Drew's Marketing Minute
Anita Campbell Small Business Trends
Rich Brooks, Flyte
Jane Genova, JaneGenova.com Law and More
Marianne Richmond, Resonance Partnership
Becky Carroll, Customers Rock
CB Whittemore, Flooring The Consumer  The Carpetology Blog
Roxanne Darling Partner, Bare Feet Studios Bare Feet Blog
Dave Williams, Co-Founder, 360i

Tris Hussey, A View From The Isle
Kami Huyse, Communication Overtones
B.L. Ochman What's Next Blog
Carolyn Wilman Contest Queen

Rajesh Lalwani, Blog Works

Dave Taylor, Ask Dave Taylor
Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing
Nancy White, Full Circle
Neville Hobson, NevilleHobson.com
Nedra Weinreich, Spare  Change blog
Dina Mehta, Conversations with Dina
Rohit, Influential Marketing Blog

Prashant, Markitechture
Katherine Malone, Fleishman-Hillard
Randal Moss, American Cancer Society; Community Mobilization
Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing
Merrill Dubrow, M/A/R/C The Merrill Dubrow Blog

Part I: Blogger or Journalist Part II: Successful Blogger Relations Strategy Part III: Agencies Talk To Bloggers Part IV: Brands Talk To Bloggers Part V: Bloggers Talk To Agencies

Blogger Relations Series: A Successful Blogger Relations Strategy

08/06/2008

Pulse of the Industry: Blogger Relations Part II

Social media a credible industry? Yes? No? I vote yes and not just because I've had a sip or two of the koolaid. Recently it was (re) validated with the launch of IBNMA - International Bloggers and New Media Association (disclosure: I am a board member) and consolidation of Social Media Group purchasing Livingston Communications.

However, with growth comes challenges and questions. A few of mine were to learn more about how bloggers, agencies and brands perceived a new strategy we are calling - Blogger Relations. I wanted to know:

  • Who was doing it right and who was doing it wrong
  • What did agencies want from bloggers and what did bloggers want from agencies
  • and most of all how could we work together for the benefit of the communities

Your_opinion_counts So I asked a few folks for their views. 99 people participated in an online survey. This is an industry .. let's call it .. pulse check .. NOT a statistically valid survey. However, the insights are note worthy and valuable. For the backstory see Part I Blogger or Journalist. My thank you and to the people who participated, and our community, is to post the findings. Since the posts tend to run long I'll be posting the analysis over the next couple of weeks. Today we'll dive into what makes a successful blogger relations strategy.

I was also curious to know, generally, if people were involved with blogger relations.  Question: Have you conducted/been ask to participate in a blogger relations strategy?

It seems that marketers, on the consulting and brand side have been busy out reaching to bloggers. 

Total response: 99 out of 99 - 100% response rate

Yes: 63%
No: 37%

My off the record thoughts are this will continue to escalate as marketers understand that bloggers bring not only reach into a niche community but a halo influence of credibility.   

From John Cass a comment which helps to clarify what is meant by Blogger Relations.  "However, we have to define blogger relations. To me it has two meanings 1) the pitching part in media relations, but to bloggers, 2) having a dialogue with a blogger, without the intent of pitching something, but to share ideas, and discussion." Read more from Jon.

Question: Other than meeting goals and objectives .. how do you define a successful blogger relations strategy? Who is doing it right? Who is doing it wrong?

Total responses: 87 out of 99 responses - 88% response rate

 

There were three big take aways for me from the responses to this question:

  • It's Not About You

  • Relationships Matter

  • Honesty Is Critical

However, Francois Gossieaux reminds us that blogger relations is a component of a what should be a larger strategy of the benefits derived from social media marketing. "Blogger relations sounds so PR-ish...I think that if companies are considering just blogger relations that they will get short changed on what the social media-induced changes can deliver to their overall business and marketing."

In addition, for one respondent participating in a blogger relations program where the blogger perceives that is is all about helping "someone else make money" will never fly.

  • I don't understand why anyone thinks I would use my valuable real estate for free advertising someone else makes money on. I get two or three dozen contacts a week of this sort (including once - honest - adult bibs) and they all waste my time. Until there got to be so many, I answered politely explaining my position. Now I just delete them. Let them buy ads as in any other kind of publication. - Anonymous

It's Not About You

Rohit's simple but elegant statement, "One where everyone benefits" indicates the sentiment of many respondents. A successful blogger relations strategy is a win for the blogger, the brand and the community. Rajesh Lalwani reminds us that it is also an opportunity to co-create. Developing the conversation was important to others.

  • Positive reaction from bloggers, providing something of value to THEM, not just yourself, communicating as a human, not just like a company, understanding both the blogger and his/her/their audience. – Anonymous
  • Did you strike a 'relationship'? Did you gain insights from the blogger and her community? Did you co-create? If you did, or will, to me is a successful blogger relations strategy. – Rajesh Lawlani
  • A great blogger relations strategy is about connecting entities together -- people, companies, and organizations. It's about starting conversations and dialogue in a very real sense. - Michael Rubin
  • There is a genuine mutual interest created between blogger and subject trying to maintain blogger relations. - Prashant Kew
  • I'd say that success is collaborating for the greater good and ultimately to help get the truth out to the end consumer. - CB Whittemore
  • I have been approached by a few companies in the not for profit field to write about their programs. The content fits well into the scope of my blog. When they provide me with an outline of their service it and how it fits well into my blog I like it even more. - Randal Moss
  • For a corporation or business, effective blogger relations strategy involved educating a reader, NOT promoting products or brands.- Michelle Miller
  • Blogger relations strategy is a success when bloggers are talking about a company without necessarily realizing that there IS a strategy. Precious few companies are doing it right as of yet, in my opinion. - Dave Taylor
  • A successful strategy is one isn't a "strategy," but a way of being and respectfully interacting with others. Would you pass the small town test? Are you contributing to the town structure or using the town structure for your own gain and not giving back your fair share? Are you putting as much energy into the blogging relationship as you are expecting them to put into you? - Mary Hunt
  • Blogger relations to me encompasses good dealings with other bloggers, the client you are serving as consultant or official blogger, and with readers who interact with your blog via comments, links, quotes, email, and real life meeetings. - Stephen Straight

Relationships Matter

From the comments it was evident that building relations was considered the cornerstone of this type of communication out reach. How do you create a relationship? For Dina Mehta "Doing it right is engaging in meaningful conversations in a transparent fashion with an involved target audience."

  • Building relationships and really telling you what consumers are thinking/doing. It's viral and the absolute best WOM marketing out there. - Kate Spencer
  • A successful blogger relations strategy does just that - builds relationships. It reaches out over time and adds value to the blogs that it seeks to partner with, in addition to understanding their readers. It gets the conversation going around the product or service in question, and success occurs when the discussion builds beyond what was expected. - Becky Carroll
  • The relationship comes first. As Jason Falls says, "you have to live it." The folks who are doing it right are almost invisible as blogger relations. They talk about the same things and show concern for the same things we do. - Liz Strauss
  • The idea of a blogger relations strategy begins with the words relations - it is all about building a mutually rewarding and inspirational relationship between the blogger and the agency/client, and sharing that passion and insight with the readers. Those who attempt to skip this step, or pretend to be involved when they are really not, are doing it all wrong. - Anonymous
  • Developing a relationship with blogger over time & participating in comments/discussions to the point where blogger would consider me/client a go-to source on my topic of expertise. - Anonymous
  • Those who do it right realize they are engaging in relationship management, those that do it wrong are just looking for the mention/hit - Kami Huyse

Trust Honesty & Trust Are Critical

Is it really a surprise that in the social media world where virtual relationships are formed without the benefit of a physical handshake or eye contact that honest, trust and let's add in authenticity would be a given in working with bloggers?

  • Communication and honesty is key. Providing and receiving honest feedback regarding what works and what doesn't helps. I think like any other relationship, opportunities need to be mutually beneficial to both parties. - Anonymous
  • Full disclosure of the relationships – Marianne Richmond
  • Trust (that) is real, authenticity (that) can be counted. - Beth Kephart

What Constitutes A Successful Blogger Relations Campaign?

Respondents offered several different ideas of what "success" meant to them. A few people indicated success was a change in perception while others felt it was the extent of that bloggers engaged with your product/service/brand to several it came back to establishing trust on both sides of the equation.

  • As far as defining a successful blogger relations strategy, it depends on the scope of the program. The best strategy is a long-term plan for building relationships with key bloggers, but it is possible to start small and identify the right bloggers to connect with for a certain campaign. - David Berkowitz
  • How your (agency, marketer, consultant) reputation emerges at the conclusion of the process. - Anonymous
  • Changing perceptions of the public. - Anonymous
  • A successful strategy is when a) the bloggers you want to help move your story know you and trust you as a reliable source of trustworthy and interesting information and b) the bloggers know you will give them the information in easily bloggable form (elements at least of the Social Media Release) - Des Walsh
  • Creating buzz for a project/product and changing consumer perception, which is hard to measure - so many things are at play, including the product or service itself- is it buzzworthy? - Alan Wolk

Measuring Success

For most of the respondents a successful blogger relations strategy has many moving parts that support success. A few people commented on how to measure success.

  • Success is measured in many different ways depending on the campaign. Is it a product launch? You probably want as many review posts as you can get, and secondly, comments/trackbacks on those posts. Depending on the item and the collateral you make available, this might also include UGC videos with your products, that are then distributed and shared. Is it an ongoing branding campaign? Then this is harder to measure, as in traditional campaigns. Is it part of an overall marketing strategy? Then posts, views, comments, and trackbacks become relevant metrics. – Roxanne Dahling
  • The success isn't necessarily numbers, or big numbers. If you're key influencers are 5 people ... and you reach them, well - "Victory is mine!" Look at the small nonprofits that are engaging just their key/core stakeholders. Many are doing it. They just don't get the big time buzz from the high profile bloggers. Why? Because they are not corporate and don't present potential clients (or huge linkbacks) for the bloggers. Crass, you say? No. Reality. - Robert French
  • 2x the 'blog mentions' than blogs pitched
  • A good blogger relations strategy can be wrapped around a few benchmarks that can define success. one being branding, 2 being exposure, 3-product release, 4-customer relations 5-corporate communications. Rather than give you specific examples I would implore people to read Naked Conversations by Scoble and Israel - Marc Meyer.

Doing It Right

The following is a list of companies and consultants that some respondents felt were doing it right. The numbers represent the times mentioned by different people.

Ford
SAP -2
Pentagon
ComcastCares
Cisco
Dell -6
Graco
Southwest Airlines
Lands End
Playnormous
IBM
Intuit
Microsoft
SUN
Stonyfield Farms
Carter Lusher
Toby Bloomberg -3
Ann Handley
Seth Godin
Guy Kawasaki
Darran Rouse
Yvonne DiVita
Liz Strauss
Chris Brogan
Brian Clark
Nokia
Smaller, nimbler companies
Larger companies with dedicated resources
Social marketers whose everyday revolves around blogging

Cyndee Haydon felt blogger relations involved continuous active participation in social media conversations and offered an example.

  • "I think @ComcastCares is doing it right on Twitter - By participating in the conversation and being responsive. I know of 3 people who have had Comcast problems - went the traditional route to get help and were completely frustrated and writing about that then they used twitter to get to ComcastCares and the problems were solved - and they told everyone about the great service on large blog networks (one with 95000 members) - the viral marketing and PR was "priceless".

Doing It Wrong

  • Walmart - 2
  • Most PR agencies

Anita Campbell brings another perspective that reinforces social media marketing is a young industry and we have much to learn from each other.

  • "As for anyone doing it "wrong," I simply prefer to think of it as them not quite being where they need to be yet -- not that they are wrong. All this openness makes us pass judgment too harshly and too quickly I think. Let's give companies and people time to learn and grow in their blogging.

Other respondents provided specifics of how people were off track.

  • Doing it wrong: 1. mass mailings of generic promotions and press releases 2. false statements such as "I've been reading your blog and - followed by boilerplate 3. promoting products and services clearly unrelated to the blog's topic, intent or audience 4. continuing to email after having been told the blogger is not interested. - Anonymous
  • Doing it wrong? Most companies who look at social media as another channel. - Anonymous
  • "Unsuccessful blogger relations all have one thing in common, which is that they are one sided and offer little value to the bloggers and therefore come off as nothing more than spam. - Anonymous

Success How To Do It Right

Several people included specific ideas on what it takes to implement a successful blogger relations out reach.

  • Successful blogger relations campaign is only going to bloggers who might actually have a reason to be interested in what you're selling, approaching them as if they were human beings, knowing what they write about, and giving them the story before you give it to everyone and her dog. - B.L. Ochman
  • The ones who do it right don't blanket e-mail, do know their audience in advance. They create relationships and value before they ask for value. (Sounds like social media mores, eh?) – Drew McLellan
  • One in which there is a product/service related rationale for soliciting the bloggers opinion (i.e. the product is for babies and mothers are askd to try the product) and the value of the product is not perceived to be "payment" for a blog post/recommendation (e.g. Nikon, Microsoft Vista)....and there is full disclosure of the relationonship. Another "right" would be if I have written something negative about a product or service, an acknowledgment of some sort from the company that addresses the issue should also be part of a "successful blogger relations strategy"; similarly a successful blogger relations strategy should include contacting bloggers writing negative or positive posts about competitive products or services ... a reach out to "try ours". – Marianne Richmond
  • Develop highly customized and personalized programs for the client to reach out to the bloggers. These programs should add value for the blogger. - Dave Williams, Co-Founder, 360i
  • (With caveats of my answer to #2 above) 1) has the person/org looked at the diverse strategic application of blogs as a communication medium. Have they then been strategic about their selection/use? 2) are they ready to use this particular medium, understanding it is not simply a "broadcast as usual" medium? 3) are they getting and productively using the feedback and connections made through blogging? 4) Is blogging done by more than one person (i.e. moved beyond centralized, controlled information dissemination)? - Nancy White
  • Successful strategy includes finding the bloggers that reach the audience you want, making sure that your product/service is something that fits within what the bloggers write about, reaching out in a respectful and compelling way to offer something of value (info/news/an experience), and being available for follow-up dialogue with the bloggers. - Nedra Weinreich
  • Success means being accepted by bloggers (i.e., conversing and interacting), without you sticking out like a sore thumb or it seeming forced. - Anita Campbell
  • It's also to help create a community that feels comfortable having useful discussions about a product or service. - Yvonne DiVita
  • A successful strategy is similar to any journalist outreach, read our stuff first, don't spam us with the same bcc email you send to 50 people. Be a part of my small online community first, then craft a custom message. - Jay Berkowitz
  • Folks who do it right don't try to control the outcome of what bloggers cover, but do offer them full and equal access to their business/event/whatever. - Ann Handley
  • Personal mailings indicating the topic and reach of the blog are understood and suggesting there might be a fit, with appropriate facts - Anonymous
  • B/c of the topics in my blog, I'm in the pool of bloggers that the Pentagon invites onto conference calls with various military experts; they are doing a good job of connecting bloggers with experts or actors who have specific knowledge of topical newsworthy issues. - Winds of Change
  • A successful blogger relations strategy discusses thought provoking issues which leads to meaningful comments and gets readers to become and stay engaged in the blog. - Merrill Dubrow

Next Up: Part III Agencies tell bloggers their side and what they want in the relationship.

Thanks to the 99 people who kindly responded. The following agreed to be quoted and publicly acknowledged.

Michele Miller WonderBranding
Mei-Li Thomas, No Fear, Just DIVA
Paul Chaney, Conversational Media Marketing
Kim Haynes, Texas Gal Ramblings
Des Walsh Des Walsh dot com
Alan Wolk The Toad Stool
Elaine Fogel, Solutions Marketing and Consulting
David J. Neff, American Cancer Society; Sharing Hope TV
Steven E. Streight aka Pluperfecter (formerly known as Vaspers the Grate)
Nicole Simons, Cruel To Be Kind
Sherry Heyl, Concept Hub, Inc
Ike Pigott, Occam's RaaR
Mary Hunt, In Women We Trust

Yigal Cohen, Linx Analyst and Blogger Relations
Susan Cartier Liebel, Building Solo Practice University
Liz Strauss, Successful and Outstanding Blog(gers)
Robert French, infOpinions?
Cynthia Holladay, UpRight Marketing
Alanna Kellogg, Veggie Eventure; Kitchen Parade
Yvonne Divita, Lip-sticking
Jay Berkowitz, Ten Golden Rules
Heidi Richards Mooney, WE Magazine for Women
Tim Jackson, Masi Bicycles  Masiguy Podcast
Marc Meyer, Direct Response Marketing Observations
Mark Goren, Transmission Content + Creative
Sally Falkow, PRoactive  Leading Edge on the Daily Dog
John Cass Author of Strategies & Tools for Corporate Blogging Blogger at PR Communications

Shel Israel, Global Neighbourhoods
Ann Handley, Annarchy; Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog
Francois Gossieaux, Emergence Marketing
Erin K Vest, Queen of Spain
David Berkowitz, Inside the Marketers Studio,

Kate Spencer, Fordham University
Ed Gaston, Chrysler
Michael Rubin, Blog Council
Cyndee Haydon, Clearwater Real Estate Tampa Homes
Katie Paine, KDPaine's PR MeasurementBlog
Drew McLellan, Drew's Marketing Minute
Anita Campbell Small Business Trends
Rich Brooks, Flyte
Jane Genova, JaneGenova.com Law and More
Marianne Richmond, Resonance Partnership
Becky Carroll, Customers Rock
CB Whittemore, Flooring The Consumer  The Carpetology Blog
Roxanne Darling Partner, Bare Feet Studios Bare Feet Blog
Dave Williams, Co-Founder, 360i

Tris Hussey, A View From The Isle
Kami Huyse, Communication Overtones
B.L. Ochman What's Next Blog
Carolyn Wilman Contest Queen

Rajesh Lalwani, Blog Works

Dave Taylor, Ask Dave Taylor
Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing
Nancy White, Full Circle
Neville Hobson, NevilleHobson.com
Nedra Weinreich, Spare  Change blog
Dina Mehta, Conversations with Dina
Rohit, Influential Marketing Blog

Prashant, Markitechture
Katherine Malone, Fleishman-Hillard
Randal Moss, American Cancer Society; Community Mobilization
Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing
Merrill Dubrow, M/A/R/C The Merrill Dubrow Blog

Part I: Blogger or Journalist Part II: Successful Blogger Relations Strategy Part III: Agencies Talk To Bloggers Part IV: Brands Talk To Bloggers Part V: Bloggers Talk To Agencies

Blogger Relations Series: Blogger or Journalist?

07/24/2008

Pulse of the Industry: Blogger Relations

Every new industry has growing pains and social media is no different. As C.B. Whittemore said to me "The challenge is figuring out how all these things can be practical."

Blogging, in particular, has become an important resource not only for people who read blogs but for brand managers/agencies who perceive the blog/blogger is a source of influence and channel for message/idea distribution. A new strategy has emerged that we've termed "Blogger Relations." How to do it 'right' is a hot topic in many of our digital and non digital discussions.

With so mAnns_girls__1any opinions swirling around I was curious to know what people thought. I also wondered if agencies and brand managers could talk to bloggers what would they say. On the flip side what would bloggers tell agencies and brands about what they did and how they wanted to be contacted. So I did what any good marketer would do .. I asked.

I sent out about 100 emails and I'm not sure how many direct message tweets. Can't tell you the response rate but I can tell that 99 people answered the questionnaire. My promise to the people who kindly answered my questions was that I would share the responses with our community. Over the next few weeks I'll be posting an analysis of the open ended questions.

This is an industry ..let's call it .. pulse check .. NOT a statistically valid survey. However, the insights are note worthy and valuable. My hopes are we can move the conversation a step or two further along. To set the stage .. something about the respondents.

Respondent Profile: Blogger Or Not

Bloggers associated with an agency or social media consultancy 47%

Bloggers associated on the client-side/company affiliation 13% 

Blogger not affiliated with an agency, social media consultancy or a company 29% 

Not a blogger 11%

Let's start with the question: Do you consider bloggers the "new journalists?"

Total responses: 87

55% - Yes

45% - No

I found it interesting that the spread between the percentage of people who thought bloggers were the “new journalists” and those who did not was only 10 points. However, 35 respondents provided additional information.

Several people indicated the answer was not black or white/yes or no but rather there were  many shades of gray.

  • Yes and no. Some bloggers are practicing a new form of journalism. Others are practicing a new form of passing notes in class. Not all bloggers are journalists of any kind. - Shel Israel

  • The answer's very much 'it depends.' For instance, I'd need to know things like who an individual blogger is, what he/she writes about, if the blogger is a full-time blogger or writes as an extension of his/her work before applying such a label. Broadly, though, the label is an invalid one: bloggers are not journalists, new or old - unless the blogger actually *is* a journalist. - Neville Hobson
  • I think this question is too generic. Some are the "new journalists" and some aren't. It is a tool and it is used in many ways. So yes/no answers don't fit. :-) Blogging is diverse. - Nancy White
  • I think they add to the information stream, but don't "replace" it. I tend to shy away from saying one is better than the other- I much prefer the idea of cooperation or information sharing. - Tim Jackson

The definition of what is a journalist seems to be changing to encompass social media and blogging in particular.

  • I would also say that journalists are "new journalists" too, as they have to change to in corporate new media and new ways that "citizen media" influence mainstream work. - Anonymous 
  • News has always changed with times - print, radio, TV and now internet. Journalists are always adapting so bloggers just allows more of us to "report" our thoughts. - Anonymous
  • Particularly in traditional and low tech industries, bloggers are able to more nimbly react to happenings in the marketplace.  - Anonymous
  • I think we'd have to agree what a journalist is and look at every professional blogger to determine whether they are a journalist. Look to the codes of ethics for journalists. One big issue in defining a journalist is if they check sources and facts, see this article.
  • So to me if a blogger acts like a journalist, then they are, and if a journalist acts like a blogger, then they may not be a journalist but a blogger. - John Cass

Rather than being perceived as the new journalists some people felt bloggers were the new public relations pros.

  • Perhaps they are the new PR professionals, as they often blog to promote something, whether that is a product, service, company or brand. - Elaine Fogel. 

Some participants felt that money (getting paid), passion and peer-to-peer communication were where paths crossed between being a journalist and a blogger.

  • Jourrnalists are paid to do their job, bloggers write about things because it is their passion. - Anonymous
  • Blogging is a part of the larger P2P peer to peer network of people advising people about news, products, companies, etc. - Steven E. Streight
  • They are our peers or the people as defined in the Tipping Point, Mavens, Connectors or Salespeople. - Sherry Heyl,

For others the difference between a journalist and a blogger came down to training while for others it was the point of view.

  • Bloggers and journalists have different experience, different networks, different standards, different goals, and different networks. - Roxanne Darling
  • I think that bloggers create them for so many different reasons that it would be inaccurate to call them the "new Journalists." Journalists focus on bringing news or information to the masses, where as some bloggers really just have created an online journal. - Mei Li Thomas
  • Some are breaking news (which is what journalists do) Some are merely interpreting it (which is what columnists do) Others are just providing an echo chamber. - Alan Wolk
  • Not all bloggers; it depends on the blogger's intentions and skill. - Anonymous
  • I think journalists still have a role to play, but bloggers can expand the discussion into new areas where traditional journalists may not have all the insight (or all the contacts!). - Becky Carroll
  • The  term journalism suggests a 'profession'. - Alanna Kellogg
  • It's not just subjectivity/objectivity -- it's the purpose for writing. A minority of bloggers actually write to communicate facts, context, or understanding. - Ike Pigott

Several people viewed bloggers as the new influencers with as much reach, or sometimes more, than traditional journalists.

  • I consider us the new media influentials. Journalism was a very constrained medium. - Jane Genova
  • Many are the new journalists, but others are the "new pundits," the "new experts," the "new entertainers," the "new authors," etc. - Nedra Weinreich
  • But rogue journalists at best. We are not bound by the same rules, don't have the same code of ethics or training. And yet, we are influencers. - Drew McLellan
  • They certainly have as much if not more reach than a typical regional journalist, so reaching out to them can be more beneficial than sending another press release to a local paper. - Anonymous
  • Sometimes they get the events sooner because of their connections on various vehicles like Twitter, so opinions are formed much sooner before it hits the main stream media and possibly influences main stream media's own take and presentation on events if they are trying to undo a pervasive opinion. - Susan Cartier Liebel
  • In some cases that is true. But there are some bloggers who are not influential and are not at all like journalists. - Mark Goren

Ethics and credibility influenced the opinion of other people. In fact, some felt that bloggers self imposed a higher level to ensure credibility.

  • My credibility as a blogger comes from keeping to the higher ground and focusing on what is best for the end consumer. - Anonymous
  • There are some bloggers out there w/journalist like ethics, but most haven't been trained that way, so no. Anonymous

Next Up: How Do You Define A Successful Blogger Relations Strategy? Who is doing it right? Who is doing it wrong?

Thanks to the 99 people who kindly responded. The following agreed to be quoted and publicly acknowledged.

Michele Miller WonderBranding
Mei-Li Thomas, No Fear, Just DIVA
Paul Chaney, Conversational Media Marketing
Kim Haynes, Texas Gal Ramblings
Des Walsh Des Walsh dot com
Alan Wolk The Toad Stool
Elaine Fogel, Solutions Marketing and Consulting
David J. Neff, American Cancer Society; Sharing Hope TV
Steven E. Streight aka Pluperfecter (formerly known as Vaspers the Grate)
Nicole Simons, Cruel To Be Kind
Sherry Heyl, Concept Hub, Inc
Ike Pigott, Occam's RaaR
Mary Hunt, In Women We Trust

Yigal Cohen, Linx Analyst and Blogger Relations
Susan Cartier Liebel, Building Solo Practice University
Liz Strauss, Successful and Outstanding Blog(gers)
Robert French, infOpinions?
Cynthia Holladay, UpRight Marketing
Alanna Kellogg, Veggie Eventure; Kitchen Parade
Yvonne Divita, Lip-sticking
Jay Berkowitz, Ten Golden Rules
Heidi Richards Mooney, WE Magazine for Women
Tim Jackson, Masi Bicycles  Masiguy Podcast
Marc Meyer, Direct Response Marketing Observations
Mark Goren, Transmission Content + Creative
Sally Falkow, PRoactive  Leading Edge on the Daily Dog
John Cass Author of Strategies & Tools for Corporate Blogging Blogger at PR Communications

Shel Israel, Global Neighbourhoods
Ann Handley, Annarchy; Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog
Francois Gossieaux, Emergence Marketing
Erin K Vest, Queen of Spain
David Berkowitz, Inside the Marketers Studio,

Kate Spencer, Fordham University
Ed Gaston, Chrysler
Michael Rubin, Blog Council
Cyndee Haydon, Clearwater Real Estate Tampa Homes
Katie Paine, KDPaine's PR MeasurementBlog
Drew McLellan, Drew's Marketing Minute
Anita Campbell Small Business Trends
Rich Brooks, Flyte
Jane Genova, JaneGenova.com Law and More
Marianne Richmond, Resonance Partnership
Becky Carroll, Customers Rock
CB Whittemore, Flooring The Consumer  The Carpetology Blog
Roxanne Darling Partner, Bare Feet Studios Bare Feet Blog
Dave Williams, Co-Founder, 360i

Tris Hussey, A View From The Isle
Kami Huyse, Communication Overtones
B.L. Ochman What's Next Blog
Carolyn Wilman Contest Queen

Rajesh Lalwani, Blog Works

Dave Taylor, Ask Dave Taylor
Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing
Nancy White, Full Circle
Neville Hobson, NevilleHobson.com
Nedra Weinreich, Spare  Change blog
Dina Mehta, Conversations with Dina
Rohit, Influential Marketing Blog

Prashant, Markitechture
Katherine Malone, Fleishman-Hillard
Randal Moss, American Cancer Society; Community Mobilization
Cece Salomon-Lee, PR Meets Marketing
Merrill Dubrow, M/A/R/C The Merrill Dubrow Blog

Part I: Blogger or Journalist Part II: Successful Blogger Relations Strategy Part III: Agencies Talk To Bloggers Part IV: Brands Talk To Bloggers Part V: Bloggers Talk To Agencies

Fresh Air Fund Needs Host Families

07/14/2008

As a little girl summer meant counting the days until I boarded a bus for camp in Maine. Mom would spent hours and hours planning, packing and sewing those little name tags on shorts and t-shirts. What I would give now to spend 3-weeks at camp!

Fresh_air_fund Tonight I a received an intense, passionate email from Sara Wilson of Fresh Air Fund. Fresh Air Fund has been providing summer holidays for NYC children since 1877.  Quite a legacy.

Inner city children are matched with families for a 2-week (or more) vacation with the host families. Sara needs help for 200 children, who will be very disappointed, if August families are not found .. SOON.

Sidebar
: By the way this was a great blogger relations out reach. It touched my heart, gave me the information I needed, sometimes I post about non profit causes and children (though I am Not a mommy blogger!) so it was relevant. I could not only feel good about helping a program I believe in but spin it as a lessons learned about social media marketing .. blogger relations.

Sara's email.

I don't know if you've heard of the Fresh Air Fund before but I need your help. We're already well into July and I have 200 children who have yet to be placed with host families for August. Since you are a top blogger, I would love your help getting the word out that we need host families who will welcome a child from the city into their homes next month.

Since we need all prospective families screened and vetted by the end of July, time is of the essence. I could really use your help. To make everything simple, I've set up an online resource page with everything you need to blog or learn more, http://freshair.smnr.us

This is so time-sensitive and important to the lives of these children, I want to help you in any way I can. This appeal comes straight from the top, so please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions or need anything at all.

Thank you so very much,

Sara sara@freshair.org

Please help if you can. Please pass along if you know people who may be able to help.Thank you.

Update: Got to wondering why Sara chose to tap bloggers for this out reach. Thought you might be enjoy her response.

"The reason we are tapping influential bloggers like yourself is because in the "blogosphere" as you know there are no boundries.

We are of course using other methods of reaching prospective families and interested parties, but the this medium is so vast and has so much potential it would be silly not to take advantage. The Fresh Air Fund has not tried this method of outreach before, but it seems to be a great way to reach a targeted demographic."

Blogger Relations: I Don't Need A New Best Friend

06/11/2008

Or .. subtitled: It's A Diva's Prerogative To Changed Her Mind

Blogging101 Blogger Relations seems to be on the radar for an increasing number of people. I've written my fair share of posts on the topic and have worked with clients to create blogger relations programs that are a Triple Crown Win for blogger, blogger's community and client. On the flip side of the equation, as a blogger, I get my fair share of pitches.

Sooo it shouldn't be a surprise that I've been doing some thinking about blogger relations. PR/Ad agency people to make it easier and real for us both let's ..

Change the Rules For Blogger Relations

  • 1. Don't pretend to be Diva Marketing's biggest fan.
  • 2. Don't bother subscribing to my RSS feed - because your boss told you that was what you should do - only to unsubscribe after your pitch.
  • 3. Don't worry about dropping a comment on a post.
  • 4. Don't bother sending me an email to introduce yourself weeks prior to your pitch.

If you're not interested in social media marketing, if your job does not include clients who have an interest in this village of social media where Diva Marketing resides, then your time here was a stop on  the social highway to doing your job. I can accept that.

What I do expect.
Although I am not a main stream media journalist .. I do expect the same respect you would give to a main stream media journalist. To help you help me and to help other bloggers -

Six Tips on How To Work With Bloggers

1. Know the content direction. - How will you know? You don't have to follow posts for weeks or try to be my new best friend .. here's the secret shhh .. don't tell your competitors: Read several months of back posts. If you scan quickly it will take you a few minutes.

2. WIFM - Lead with what is most valuable to me and my community. Help me understand why I should not only care about the nifty new product or service or book or conference or cruise .. but why I should take the time to write and research the post and dedicate space to promote your client.

3. Value add. - What are you including that goes beyond a product brief that anyone could pick up off of a website? If you offer to provide access to a VIP to answers I'll take you at your word. Please read this - Blogger Relations Tips For PR Agencies & Consultants

4. About you. - Please tell me who you are, your organization and your relationship to the brand you are promoting. Would be nice if you included the url of your corporate website.

5. Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t bully. Play nicely together. Say Thank you!

6. Bloggers are not journalists. Keep in mind that most bloggers have no editor, write about what they want, when they want and if they think you are not playing nicely with them may not play nicely with you. Read Elana Centor, Funny Business

Sidebar: Catch June 11's Forimmediaterelease live internet radio show on blogger relations. 10am PDT/ 1pm EDT / 6pm UK time.

Blogger Relations Tips For PR/Ad Agency People & Consultants

05/23/2008

Friends Sometimes it's tiring to try to be friends. Sigh ..

The following email from a PR Person came on the heels of an email from Marc Meyer - Emerson Direct Marketing Observations. Mark developed what he calls the 30 Top Social Media Experts, Pundits, Evangelists and Marketers. Follow-up post with a few more peeps. I am honored to be included. Send Marc some link love .. click and read who else is on the list. The PR Person is not on the list.

eMail Volley Between PR Person & Diva Marketing (modified so we can learn together and not embarrass.)

PR Person: Hi. Blah blah blah .. company (turns out to be a client) has a new product. If you’d like to learn more about blah blah please let  me know and I’d be happy to  set you up with  an appropriate executive.

Toby/Diva Marketing: I asked a question about the campaign.

PR Person:  I can not personally  comment on these types of questions but I’m happy to put you in touch with one of the marketing executives who would be better able to answer that for you. Just let me know.

Toby/Diva Marketing: That would be great. Thanks.

PR Person:  Sure thing. Do you happen to have any readership or unique visitor numbers handy?

Toby/Diva Marketing: Why?

PR Person: We always like to present our executives with as much  information as possible when approaching them with an interview opportunity.

Toby/Diva Marketing: I am not a journalist. Diva Marketing is not a media outlet. It is a blog with some extent of influence. That is not a question that I would answer unless I was negotiating for sponsorships on Diva (which I choose not to do).

Also, you approached me .. I did not approach you. In your email you offered information to learn more about the campaign. I asked you questions about it and you offered to forward them to the right person for a response. I did not request an interview.

Seems like you don't have much experience reaching out to bloggers. These posts might be useful:
Bloggers and PR People Should Be Friends
From Blogger Relations To Blogger Relations Programs
Agencies Miss The Relations In Blogger Relations Strategies

PR Person: Thanks for clarifying. I am still learning everyday when it comes to blogger outreach. If you are interested in potentially writing about the program on your blog, I would be happy to pass along your question.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Rule # one NEVER ask a blolgger to write about your product/campaign. And NEVER make an interview contingent on a post.

Blogger Relations Tips For PR/Ad Agency People & Consultants

1. Include your name and your company.
2. Indicate your relationship with your client.
3. Learn about the culture of the social media and blogger relations etiquette
4. Educate your client about what to expect when incorporating blogger relations into an outreach.
5. Help your client understand that bloggers are not journalists nor are they media outlets. This is a different game with its own unique rules.
6. Do not offer to provide access to your client or additional information unless you can produce it.
7. Never ask for a blogger's traffic stats or RSS subscriptions.
8. Do your research: read the past posts. If your client wants to understand the blogger's influence utilize tools like Technorati, Google and/or Alexa to learn more about the blogger.
9. Do not make an interview contingent for a blog post.
10. Social media and in this case Blogger Relations is about the relationship.

A tweet from hugh gapingvoid is a perfect way to close this conversation -

The question is not, "Should we blog?" The question is, "Do we want to talk to people differently from how we did in the past?

PR/Agency People and Consultants also have to learn to talk differently than they did in the past.

Bloggers & PR People Should Be Friends

05/16/2008

I've been thinking about this post for several weeks and was inspired by Mack Collier's post on Daily Fix to finally put thoughts to virtual paper.

First a little background: I'm a marketer who blogs. I have never been a journalist nor have I ever worked in a PR firm. I was once a director for a non profit and with that came many hats including media relations. My deep dark secrets are I would have loved to have been a foreign correspondence wearing those cute jackets with zillions of pockets, drinking Scotch and yes, an occasional puff on a cigar. And I covet a real press badge that will get me into concerts and events for free. But I digress ..

With blogging has come many new opportunities, as well as a few surprising new identities. A couple of weeks ago I received a press release that referred to me as part of Atlanta's prestigious media. Maybe I do have a press badge but I just forgot where I put. But I can tell you that some of my best friends are in the PR biz. And I've met people who are true professionals in every sense of the word. What do they do that is right?

1. They know who I am.
2. They tell me who they are.
3. They know what I focus on.
4. They offer background information.
5. They help me provide valued content for Diva Marketing's community.
6. Sometimes they even ask what I would like to make the post more compelling.
7. They offer me more than a vaguely clocked sales pitch.
8. They say "thank you."

For all of you a toss of aPink_boa pink boa!

Girlfriend, since we're talking among friends, here are a few pet peeves ..

1. Emails from people who at first glance seem to be my long, lost, best friend.
2. People who start their emails in the middle of a conversation and it takes me a second to realize I've never met the person in online or offline.
3. Emails that are so much like spam that they never get a glance. Off topic.
4. People who say lovely things about Diva Marketing and then ask for me to be their best friend and write about their stuff.
5. People who forget to tell who they are or who they work for or why I should take my time to promote their product.
6. People who forget to say  "thank you."'

That has me wondering why:

1. Some PR people seem to get it while others do not have a clue.
2. Some PR people seem to understand that bloggers are not representatives of a media outlet that is paying them to write about "news worthy" events.
3. Some PR people treat bloggers with the respect that they would give to an influential journalist from a publication like the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times or even The Star
4. While others do not.

Recently I received an email from a brand manager type who works at a very large company. She had hired a PR agency to conduct a Blogger Relations strategy and wrote ..

"We've discussed the fact that bloggers, by publishing their opinions and inviting readers to comment or contact them, basically agree to open themselves to unsolicited information." The ah ha light bulb moment flashed on.  My response back -

If you take that approach you'll open yourself to firestorms. What we tell clients is that the blogoshere is comprised of many "villages" and each village e.g., the cat pet village, the business village, the golf village, has a unique culture.

Within that culture each blogger has her own sense of what she will post .. how she deals with unsolicited "pitches" and so forth. That means more than identifying a bunch of bloggers who talk about a subject it means understanding the blogger. This post from Diva Marketing might shed some understanding.

The ah ha: People just don't know and some agencies dive into this space with little or no experience positioning themselves as experts .. getting their clients and themselves in Big Trouble. Blogger relations is different from traditional media relations. As BBF Paul Chaney indicated in the comments on Mack's post it seems to be a  training challenge .. or opportunity.

The friction between bloggers and public relations people reminds me of the song from the musical Oklahoma - "Farmer and the Cowhand .. Should Be Friends." So I'd like to propose ..  

Social media folks should stick together. Social media folks should all be friends.

Thinking about more blogger relations I was curious if reaching out to bloggers was in anyway in violation of the CAN SPAM Act. My pal Simms Jenkins, CEO of BrightWave Marketing & EmailStatCenter kindly shed some light.

To begin to work together .. Bloggers and PR People .. this is for all of us. Thanks to Simms who agreed to let me post our email volley.

Simms Jenkins: The CAN SPAM act only requires some key elements, none related to permission.  Best practices of email campaigns are related to the subscriber proving an opt in. So spammers follow neither which means the law is powerless, for the most part.

Regarding the outreach, I think a one to one email provides more  flexibility - after all we all send some unsolicted emails hoping to get press, leads, friends :) ..once it becomes an email campaign, you should be more cautious as that is the brand not just an email sent to an individual.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  So if I'm hearing you right .. if the email from the, call it agency/person, includes a "if you don't want to hear from us again we won't bother you again" statement it would be okay and not fall into the CAN SPAM act?

Simms Jenkins:
I am defining campaign as an email from BrightWave Marketing promoting my book/website The Truth About Email Marketing - I need to follow the letter of can spam...however, if I send you an email from my personal account promoting the book, it allows a bit more flexibility but that is a general grey area and why I include an opt out note at the bottom of all of my emails to people

Social media folks should stick together. Social media folks should all be friends.