Pitching to Bloggers versus PR Spam

May 11, 2008

I was part of an interesting conversation the other night (I found out about it on Twitter – where else) that motivated me to formulate some sort of response.  The discussion was hosted by a tech blogger and co-hosted by others (A Mom-blogger and Robert Scoble himself).  The topic of discussion was a bemoaning of “PR hacks” that were, in-essence, spamming them with pitches with no regards to if they were indeed even people that accepted pitches, let alone covered the products being pitched.  Since that night, the topic has escalated.  There are bloggers blacklisting PR professionals and agencies out of hand for “spamming” them with press releases.  There have been some fairly vile and hostile remarks made on both sides, but several PR professionals even issued open letters of apologies to bloggers.

I can’t defend my species (PR) as a whole.  We have good and bad eggs just like everyone else out there.  I don’t think the bloggers blacklisting PR companies en masse is beneficial to anyone, including themselves.

I do want to share a viewpoint with the bloggers that may not be crystal clear out there.  Bloggers as a title confuses us!  Blogging may or may not be your primary vocation, for instance, I am a PR professional that blogs.  There are many bloggers who are also journalists working for a “traditional” media outlet as well as the blogs.  There are bloggers (many of the mommy-bloggers fall into this category) are simply that, moms that are blogging to share tips, experiences, and the like.  There are personal blogs, corporate blogs, team blogs, ad infinitum.

In PR 101, were taught that the golden rule is to secure as large of an audience as possible for the story we have from our clients.  Bloggers, you now resemble that remark.  You may not be, nor do you consider yourself to be a “journalist” or “media outlet”, but by the sheer number of readers or followers you may have, by default, you are.  For example, in compiling a list of media outlets to approach about a new product a client has to offer new parents.  In this neck of the woods, I of course am going to include MN Parent magazine, yet there are over 80, yep 80 blogs out there with more readership than the print version of this magazine.  Granted, not all of them are actually journalists, nor do they desire to be, but my point is that you have a value to PR as a source to get a story to in order to gain our client exposure to a large audience (one that you have access to). 

For our part (and I can only verify that this is done by our firm) is that we attempt to make contact with bloggers first, by either contacting them through their blog, contact info they provide, or through other communication tools if they are using them.  By doing so, we hope we are able to determine their interest, or desire to receive news, build a relationship that hopefully gets us to stand out from the other emails (buzz) in their inbox.  Besides, if we can cut down on the list, and only focus on the outlets that are actually looking for the stories we have to get out,  it’s all the better for us and our clients.

My wife, (who also blogs at http://prmoxie.wordpress.com) came from the Media world, as a former television producer, she is extremely conscientious of the media outlets we are communicating with, and has instilled that mandate throughout our firm.  While we are extremely proud of the testimonials we garner from our clients, we take even more pride in the testimonials we have garnered from journalists, reporters, editors, producers, and other media outlets.  We are now working hard to earn those same testimonials from bloggers.



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