The Fallacy of “Blogger Relations”

Male against financial journalsI’ve never really had a problem being a little unconventional with my thinking, so I’m going to go ahead and say what some in the PR business may consider blasphemy: To me, the term “blogger relations” is a bunch of BS.

It’s not that I have a problem with actually reaching out to and effectively working with bloggers. I am completely for that, and embrace those types of relationships each day with my work. My problem stems from the fact that those of us in PR have even had to take the time to create a new term for the type of relationships and media outreach we should have been doing all along with EVERY type of media, not just bloggers.

Many very smart people in the PR business have already created sets of “rules” and “guidelines” for “blogger relations.” These include Brian Solis, who has a great (albeit quite lengthy) guide, as well as Todd Defren (read Todd’s blogger relations guide here). Hell, even some agencies have separate “blogger relations” departments and specialists. That, I totally do not get.

Also included in this list of very smart PR people is my friend and fellow PRBC blogger TJ Dietderich, who wrote a tremendous post on this topic just last week, where she noted:

Just one rule [for effective blogger relations]: talk like a person, treat them like a person.

TJ’s point about treating bloggers like a real person is the exact reason why I think the whole concept of “blogger relations” is a bit silly: We should treat EVERY touch point we have—whether that is with a blogger, a traditional reporter, a podcaster or beyond—everyone we interact with that we think would be a key influencer or is part of our organization’s, brand’s or client’s target audience as an actual human being.

If someone has a voice, and that voice reaches others and they have the ability to be an advocate or key influencer for your brand, you don’t need a list of “rules” or “guidelines” for how to effectively communicate with them. What you need is the ability to realize that every person in media, from a blogger to a traditional reporter to a podcaster, is a real person. It’s time we start treating all of them like that, and quit creating separate guidelines for how to effectively interact with other human beings—that only serves to continue to muddle the problem of quality media relations.

* And yes, I realize there are minor differences in how bloggers operate (e.g. within an online community, linkbacks, comments etc.), which Todd Defren does a great job of outlining here (pdf). What I’m talking about is more of the overall relationship building and outreach efforts.

I’m more interested in hearing your thoughts on “blogger relations,” so chime in below!

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  • http://topsy.com/tb/prbreakfastclub.com/2009/10/14/fallacy-blogger-relations/ Tweets that mention The Fallacy of “Blogger Relations” :PRBreakfastClub — Topsy.com

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by PRCog and Christina K, DanielleCyr. DanielleCyr said: RT @stina6001 RT @PRCog: The Fallacy of “Blogger Relations” http://prbc.biz/7 from @keithtrivitt #prbc [...]

  • http://thebuzzbymikeschaffer.wordpress.com/ Mike Schaffer

    Love this section, Keith:
    “We should treat EVERY touch point we have—whether that is with a blogger, a traditional reporter, a podcaster or beyond—everyone we interact with that we think would be a key influencer or is part of our organization’s, brand’s or client’s target audience as an actual human being.”

    You never know WHO someone is…and more importantly, who they WILL be. Perfect example: I met met a communications grad student about two years ago and agreed to meet him for lunch to discuss the industry. He was figuring out what he wanted to do with himself. Well, fast forward a bit and he's producing one of the top sports radio shows in DC and the right-hand man to a major columnist. And that lunch started an emerging friendship.

    Back to bloggers, though…Bloggers-as-media generally tend to fill a void in traditional media. I represent a mixed martial arts organization. Mainstream media does a fairly good job of telling the story of a fighter. However, for MMA fans, dedicated blogs give them the constant supply of information they crave. To reach the core audience, the bloggers and internet talk show hosts ARE the media. They are used to being treated as bottom-barrel, so showing some respect really does go a long, long way.

    Great stuff, as always!

  • http://twitter.com/tjdietderich TJ Dietderich

    You're spot-on, Keith. We should probably call it People Relations. Is that too twee? Isn't there a PR book titled that? Well, it fits. People Relations.

  • keithtrivitt

    Hi Mike – Thanks for chiming in. You provide a great perspective to this discussion, coming from a sports and entertainment PR background, where bloggers and online media often are THE main media for your clients and organizations. I know full well how that goes having previously worked a few years in college athletics PR, and I think that's one of the reasons why I don't understand the whole concept of having separate “blogger relations.” When I worked in sports PR, we considered everyone who write, talked about or was an influencer for our organization to be vitally important to building our brand and public awareness, and as such, we treated them with a ton of respect. Didn't matter if they were a blogger from Indiana or the Chicago Tribune's college sports beat writer. If they were an influencer and someone we felt could help enhance our brand, we did whatever we could to help them.

    I really like what you have to say about you never know who someone is. Very true. Today's mid-level blogger, or the “magical middle” as so many call them now, could be tomorrow's Chris Brogan or someone similar, and even just a tiny mention from them could span tremendous growth and brand recognition for your organization or client.

  • Greg

    When it comes to hockey there are issues. There happens to be an anonymous blogger who thinks he repesents all hockey bloggers.

    This guy lies on a constant basis, breaking trades that never happen, then blames his 'sources'.

    He has stolen, word for word from legitimate hockey writers and posted those words as his own.

    He reports to no one, and his actions are reflected on other bloggers who do a great job.

    How do you handle an idiot like this?

  • keithtrivitt

    Greg – Thanks for chiming in with this question. That's a tough one, and frankly, probably one of the areas I should have addressed in my piece and why many believe “blogger relations” to be a separate entity from media relations.

    From my own experience, I have dealt with this before, and I can say that the situation can be dealt with effectively. Just like in traditional media relations, it's not always about the “hit” (hate that term) or the quantity of placements, but more about the quality. If this blogger is consistently lying and stealing content from others, then it needs to be addressed, either directly with the blogger (I would suggest doing it off his/her blog at first), or if that doesn't work, then calling them out on it directly on their blog. Yes, there is the issue that bloggers aren't held to the same credentialed standards as traditional journalists, but at the same time, there is no guarantee that a regular journalist wouldn't do something similar (and that has happened before, as we all know).

    From my experience, I have tried to work with each blogger individually, both before, during and after certain situations like the one you mentioned to try to alleviate these problems, and in the last case scenario, tell them they are no longer welcomed at our events. Good luck with this situation.

    Keith

  • Fozzy Bear

    WAKA WAKA WAKA

  • http://thebuzzbymikeschaffer.wordpress.com/ Mike Schaffer

    Love this section, Keith:
    “We should treat EVERY touch point we have—whether that is with a blogger, a traditional reporter, a podcaster or beyond—everyone we interact with that we think would be a key influencer or is part of our organization’s, brand’s or client’s target audience as an actual human being.”

    You never know WHO someone is…and more importantly, who they WILL be. Perfect example: I met met a communications grad student about two years ago and agreed to meet him for lunch to discuss the industry. He was figuring out what he wanted to do with himself. Well, fast forward a bit and he's producing one of the top sports radio shows in DC and the right-hand man to a major columnist. And that lunch started an emerging friendship.

    Back to bloggers, though…Bloggers-as-media generally tend to fill a void in traditional media. I represent a mixed martial arts organization. Mainstream media does a fairly good job of telling the story of a fighter. However, for MMA fans, dedicated blogs give them the constant supply of information they crave. To reach the core audience, the bloggers and internet talk show hosts ARE the media. They are used to being treated as bottom-barrel, so showing some respect really does go a long, long way.

    Great stuff, as always!

  • http://twitter.com/tjdietderich TJ Dietderich

    You're spot-on, Keith. We should probably call it People Relations. Is that too twee? Isn't there a PR book titled that? Well, it fits. People Relations.

  • keithtrivitt

    Hi Mike – Thanks for chiming in. You provide a great perspective to this discussion, coming from a sports and entertainment PR background, where bloggers and online media often are THE main media for your clients and organizations. I know full well how that goes having previously worked a few years in college athletics PR, and I think that's one of the reasons why I don't understand the whole concept of having separate “blogger relations.” When I worked in sports PR, we considered everyone who write, talked about or was an influencer for our organization to be vitally important to building our brand and public awareness, and as such, we treated them with a ton of respect. Didn't matter if they were a blogger from Indiana or the Chicago Tribune's college sports beat writer. If they were an influencer and someone we felt could help enhance our brand, we did whatever we could to help them.

    I really like what you have to say about you never know who someone is. Very true. Today's mid-level blogger, or the “magical middle” as so many call them now, could be tomorrow's Chris Brogan or someone similar, and even just a tiny mention from them could span tremendous growth and brand recognition for your organization or client.

  • Greg

    When it comes to hockey there are issues. There happens to be an anonymous blogger who thinks he repesents all hockey bloggers.

    This guy lies on a constant basis, breaking trades that never happen, then blames his 'sources'.

    He has stolen, word for word from legitimate hockey writers and posted those words as his own.

    He reports to no one, and his actions are reflected on other bloggers who do a great job.

    How do you handle an idiot like this?

  • keithtrivitt

    Greg – Thanks for chiming in with this question. That's a tough one, and frankly, probably one of the areas I should have addressed in my piece and why many believe “blogger relations” to be a separate entity from media relations.

    From my own experience, I have dealt with this before, and I can say that the situation can be dealt with effectively. Just like in traditional media relations, it's not always about the “hit” (hate that term) or the quantity of placements, but more about the quality. If this blogger is consistently lying and stealing content from others, then it needs to be addressed, either directly with the blogger (I would suggest doing it off his/her blog at first), or if that doesn't work, then calling them out on it directly on their blog. Yes, there is the issue that bloggers aren't held to the same credentialed standards as traditional journalists, but at the same time, there is no guarantee that a regular journalist wouldn't do something similar (and that has happened before, as we all know).

    From my experience, I have tried to work with each blogger individually, both before, during and after certain situations like the one you mentioned to try to alleviate these problems, and in the last case scenario, tell them they are no longer welcomed at our events. Good luck with this situation.

    Keith

  • http://prbreakfastclub.com/2010/01/12/stop-bashing-media-relations/ Stop Bashing Media Relations—More Important Than Ever :PRBreakfastClub

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