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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