September 15, 2011

Why are you so afraid of engaging bloggers?

Tips for how your agency or firm should do outreach the right way AbrahamUnlike a few years ago, today everyone at least pays lip service to reaching out to bloggers, the same way that PR people have always reached out to mainstream media. That’s what my company, Abraham-Harrison, does and lots of other companies try to do it, too. But I am still surprised that many companies don’t do blogger outreach, even today. My conclusion is that what is holding them back is fear. Simply put, blogger outreach is scary.

And it’s not a completely irrational fear. It is true that bloggers are unpredictable and we all know, thanks to posts by the Consumerist and the Bad Pitch Blog, that one false move and you’re public mincemeat. Publicly shamed, drawn, quartered and, finally, drummed out of the corps.

We all know this, except that it isn’t so. The biggest faux pas that most agencies commit when they test the waters with blogger outreach has less to do with the natural meanness of the bloggers  and more to do with the behavior of the agencies. In many cases, the bad experiences that many agencies blame on the rudeness of the blogger is square on the agency’s shoulders.

It is a case of the abuser blaming the victim, the blogger.

In truth, the blogger often has no context for a PR outreach, has never been part of the publicity machine, and often doesn’t know what’s expected, what proper and improper behavior is, and most often is just behaving naturally and not part of some insidious cabal aimed at defaming you or your brand or your personal reputation.

Consider your pitch from the blogger’s point of view

What’s happening is that a blogger has been blogging for a while, and eventually assumes that nobody’s really reading or paying attention at all. At that point that blogger drops the affectation that this blog is actually for mainstream consumption, develops a small coterie of passionate readers, they become an ad hoc community (maybe a few blogs are part of this evolving tightly knit emergent family), and then, uninvited, someone who is not part of this close-knit family elbows in and makes a big fuss.

This, often coming across to the bloggers, as “Do you know who I am?” is very rarely taken well, especially after that blogger probably has had to fight insidious attacks from trackback and  comment spam only to receive an email that is poorly-targeted, insensitive, lies about the nature of the reason why he is emailing (“I love your blog and have been reading you for a long time,” when obviously that is not true because the blogger knows most people who read his blog), or he even just gets the name wrong, which means that the person who’s doing the outreach isn’t taking the time or attention required to at least give a good college try.

It’s not that the blogger is out to shame and embarrass PR agencies. Most vindictive bloggers are already in the top of the blogosphere and receive tons of bad pitches a week. No, the typical blogger would really love to help. It really took a great heap of combined insult to get your client’s and agency’s shame and ineptitude raised up the flag pole for everyone to salute.

Blogger outreach can be scary, but only if you aren’t thinking about it from the blogger’s point of view. If you stop and consider how to make good use of the blogger’s time, you might get what you are looking for with nothing to fear.

Via BiznologyChris Abraham is a partner in Contact Chris via email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.

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3 thoughts on “Why are you so afraid of engaging bloggers?

    • What if responding doesn't make sense? How does one follow your comment except to say thanks. Thanks, David.

  1. There are two ways businesses can find bloggers more likely to be interested in hearing from them:

    1) Look for PR Friendly Tabs or Images indicating a blogger wants to hear from brands.

    2) Search for CommentLuv blogs and note whether any businesses are commenting and whether the blogger allows keywords in the name field. Both are indications that they are small business and/or brand friendly.

    You DO still have to make sure what you want is RELEVANT to that blog and offer at least a reasonable attempt at a decent pitch – but at least you know that blogger has some blog outreach savvy.

    Businesses need to be aware that if a blog has a PR friendly approach they are most likely to know the difference between a guest post of general interest to their readers and an advertisement for your business – and they are going to expect to be compensated if what you want them to publish is primarily an ad.

    Here is how Kelli at 3boysandadog put it in a series of three guest posts on How to Score a Mommy Blogger: “If you want to “advertise” then you should be paying for it and if you want opinions you shouldn’t.” I put the link to that post in the Website field and from it you can reach the other two.