I read an interesting article on Umpf’s blog earlier this morning, a summary of a PR/Blogger outreach event they attended earlier in the month. Hosted by Econsultancy’s Vicki Chowney and featuring a panel of three public relations professionals and three bloggers, a series of best practice discussions ensued on the topic of PR/Blogger relationships.
The panel highlighted the sad truth that there are a lot of PRs who don’t appear to understand basic human communication, evident in their contact with bloggers. Unfortunately, this is the sad truth within the PR industry as a whole. To be any good at PR does require the very highest level of communication skills, something I will write about in the near future.
In reference to some of the best practice tips the panel highlighted, I do have a few thoughts to add.
I agree with the need for bloggers to be open and honest with their traffic statistics, but only if the blogger is either being paid, or receiving something in exchange for writing. There are a number of great tools that can provide backlink information and traffic stats, such as Majestic SEO*.
I don’t believe that PRs need to get to know bloggers on a personal level, but they are right in that, much the same as if you were to target a journalist, you need to know the publication or blog, its content and its target audience before contacting them.
I agree again with the need to tailor the angle of the story, something that agencies should naturally be able to do when selling into any publication, always answering the question of why is it relevant to their audience. However, there is the argument that as writers, bloggers should be able to add their own angle to the story, as long as they are provided with as much information as possible.
The debate of to pay or not to pay stems down to finding that middle gap. Yes, there are some blogs that receive a much greater level of traffic, and if the prize is not of high enough value, a monetary value for posting the competition should be attached. Whether it be a blog or publication, as the readership increases, so too does the value of advertising within that publication. Likewise, not all blogs should be able to demand a placement fee outright.
In an ideal world, you would reach a point where the costs and benefits for both parties are equal. Upon analysis of the costs of the agency’s time spent on pitching, as well as the value of the prize and the quality of the placement their competition will get, accompanied with the blogger’s increase in traffic and thus the increase in net worth of their blog, a middle ground should be reached.
This is, of course, the ideal world scenario. Unfortunately, not all bloggers are experienced journalists or really understand agencies and what they need to achieve out of their work. Likewise, not all agencies are any good.
If there is one thing that needs be taken away from this, it is that people really do need to start focusing on basic human communication, recognising that it is in fact a human on the other end of the telephone or email that you are dealing with, reaching that middle ground where both parties are gaining from this relationship.
*disclosure – Majestic SEO are a partner with Receptional, and a client, but they do have the world’s largest commercially available backlink data index, so I’ve no problems with recommending them here!