Years ago the PR industry was aghast when technology reporters placed PR pros on public “blacklists” as punishment for “bad” pitches. (Here’s one example: http://www.longtail.com/the_long_tail/2007/10/sorry-pr-people.html). The culprit, in many cases, was the practice of blasting the same pitch to a long list of reporters with little consideration for targeting. And the result was that the PR industry was put on notice that the “relationship” needed to be put back into media and blogger relations.
This holds true for lifestyle bloggers, too – including mommy bloggers – who may or may not make their living from blogging. While they are not reporters per se, lifestyle bloggers write stories about topics that they are interested in – and that make sense for their readership. A blogs is the bloggers’ space and if we want him or her to include our brand there, it’s our responsibility to be conscientious about what we pitch and when. It’s common courtesy. Never mind that “spamming” bloggers (and media) will only exacerbate the PR industry’s reputation in some circles of being glorified telemarketers.
Bottom line: relationships are critical to good media and blogger relations. And these relationships need to be nurtured just like romantic relationships. So how do you put the romance back into your blogger relationships? Here are some tips:
- 1. Take the time to get to know your blogger: As a rule it’s advisable to really get to know the person you’re dating. The same goes for bloggers. What do they like and dislike? What causes are they interested in? Passions? Causes? Thanks to social media, you can find a lot of this out with a Google search. And…oh…you could always ask as the relationship develops, right? I’ve seen too many pitches fail simply because the PR pro missed something obvious (e.g., pitching unhealthy foods to a blogger well known for her healthy eating habits, or bronzer to a dark-skinned Latina).
- 2. Get to know your blogger’s work: People in healthy relationships grow to understand each other’s work. One of the most important components to good blogger (and media) relations is reading the blogs you’re pitching. Not just the most recent post – but many posts. Doing so will give you insight into what the blogger will and won’t write about. A tip: pay attention to which posts get the most reader comments. This will give you insight into what resonates with the blog’s readership, which is very helpful to targeting.
- 3. Don’t try to make your blogger write something she’s not interested in: I groan when I hear stories about women who pout when their mate chooses to watch football over accompanying her to the mall. (Admit it, ladies – that’s really unfair.) So why would you do the same to your blogger? A mommy blogger with teens is probably not interested in baby bottles. And while some enjoy give-aways or Twitter parties, others despise them. So make sure your asks are in keeping with what the blogger likes to do.
- 4. Don’t delegate your blogger relationships to the most junior person: Honestly, I can’t believe I have to say this. I’ve heard horror stories about women whose dates with their mates are planned by secretaries. And I’ve seen more “pitch errors” blamed on “clerical errors” or “the intern who didn’t follow directions.” Seriously? I call B.S. Why would you delegate work that is so critical to success in our business to the most inexperienced person? It’s not fair to your organization or to the junior person. Don’t get me wrong… I’m all about giving junior folks opportunities. But let them sit in your office and watch/listen to you pitch. Don’t let them do it themselves until they have a good grasp on the brand, the business and the bloggers/outlets with whom you’re trying to build relationships.
- 5. Make your assets easily available: Relationship experts say that a healthy sex life is critical to a good relationship. (And with that I’ve worked the word “sex” into my post. SEO win? I digress.). You have to, um, give your mate access to your assets. As it relates to bloggers, it’s a tiny bit ridiculous that many organizations make the bloggers ask for assets – photography, video, etc. – instead of making it readily available, downloadable and sharable. Social media-friendly newsrooms are not that difficult to build, and sites like YouTube and Flickr are perfectly good places to store content that bloggers can link to. Doing so will help you to “Bring Sexy Back” to your PR efforts.
- 6. Make sure you really have a story or opportunity to give: Just like you have no business entering into a romantic relationship if you have nothing to offer the other person, you have no business pitching a blogger if you don’t have a story or an opportunity. Be honest with yourself and your clients or colleagues if you don’t. You’re doing yourself and the organization you represent a disservice if you approach a blogger with a stupid idea just to “get something out there.” (Note: while I believe there are no stupid ideas in a brainstorm session, there is such a thing as a stupid idea. Just sayin’.)
- 7. Communicate honestly: Poor communication leads to certain death of a romantic relationship. With blogger relationships, it’s really important to communicate openly and honestly. For example, if a blogger responds to a pitch with a “not interested” or suggestion of an ad buy, don’t be pushy, offended or indignant. This is an opportunity to have an honest, two-way conversation about what your respective needs are out of the relationship. And if it doesn’t work (this time or ever) that’s okay too.
This list is hardly exhaustive, but I think most would agree that doing these things would help keep most daters off dating blacklists like this one: http://dontdatehimgirl.com/home/
I’m interested to hear more from bloggers and PR professionals on this subject. What else can we do to put the romance back in our relationship?