Revisiting the Disconnect Between PR and Bloggers

I’ve noticed a spike of recent attention devoted to building relationships with bloggers.

One of the better ones came from Gini Dietrich and her interview with Mickie Kennedy from eReleases.

With this in mind, I’ve dusted off a previous post that addresses this very topic:

Robert Scoble, the poster child for escaping corporate cubedom for the virtual pulpit, penned a post titled “What do the freaking tech bloggers want?”

It’s a convincing view.

A bit longwinded perhaps, but if “Scobleizer” is etched in your masthead, you get a pass to periodically pontificate.

The following line captures the gist of Scoble’s take:

“Bloggers are being commoditized.”

He goes on to say:

“If we just go to press conferences, or only deal with embargoed news, and report on the same news everyone else is reporting on, well, then, just what reason is there for our business to exist? How will we build an audience that’s any different, than, say, TechCrunch or Fortune’s or ZDNet’s efforts? How will we justify to our sponsors that they should sponsor us as we are doing the same thing as everyone else? Especially if we have a smaller audience? Yeah, advertisers really love getting THOSE kinds of sales pitches. Imagine walking into a big company and putting up a Powerpoint that says ‘we’re the same as Techcrunch, but smaller.’ What’s the chances you’ll walk out with a sponsorship?”

Hard to disagree.

In short, great blogging depends on information not in the public domain.

This is a tough one for smokestack PR which revolves around public-domain content, a one-to-many model also known by that scientific term “mass blast.” The news release is the best example of information earmarked for the public domain.

I’m not saying the news release doesn’t have a place in outbound communications. For a range of reasons, not the least being public disclosure and SEO, the news release can be the right tool for the job.

But public-domain information doesn’t work for bloggers.

Back to Scoble’s point about being commoditized, bloggers need fresh stories, unique access and turf to navigate on their own; otherwise, how do they differentiate their offerings?

Which poses a problem for smokestack PR.

Storytelling takes time. 

And it’s not a one-to-many approach in the blogosphere. Instead, it’s about pulling together the right content and sources for a single blogger.

The ROI comes from forming a genuine relationship with the blogger and one-off stories with the potential of being flung to the far reaches of the Net via the viral effect.

Scoble wrapped up his dissertation on what bloggers want from PR with an anecdote about powwows put on by Microsoft and EA:

“… That was really great because there wasn’t any pressure to report on anything, just a chance to get to know you, your team, and see some of the things you are working on. Same thing at EA last week. By providing experiences where we can get our hands on your products, meet your team, etc, we’ll discover new story ideas together. I found a few at EA that I would never have known about if they didn’t have an event where we could hang out for a day.”

We’ll discover new story ideas together.

What a concept.

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4 comments

4 Comments so far

  1. Gini Dietrich July 5th, 2010 5:40 pm

    It’ll be interesting to see how journalists and bloggers continue to intersect…as marketing and PR blur even more. I’ve started getting pitches from PR people and it’s pretty clear they don’t read my blog at all. In today’s day and age, it’s not that hard to figure out how to pitch a blogger with a story that makes sense they write without mass emailing some silly news release.

    P.S. It’s Gini (with an I). :)

  2. Lou Hoffman July 6th, 2010 7:30 am

    Appreciate your perspective.

    I suppose there’s another piece of the puzzle called “the client.” Agencies and consultants need to educate their clients on qualitative measures that align with this approach to blogger outreach.

    Also apologize for the misspelling which has been squared away.

  3. Laurent July 19th, 2010 4:24 pm

    Hi Lou

    In the vast universe called social media, bloggers are the closest to ‘media’ as we’ve known it. This may be actually true for the blockbuster ones, which are few and all well known but it’s certainly not the case for the long list of B-Z ones. Those ones are peers in a network of very specialized networks. While you can buy media (or push a press release thru it), you can’t do that with a network of peers. It just doesn’t work because the value is as much in the network (people and their connections) than the media itself. So buying media has to be, to some extent, replaced by paying salaries. Salaries for real people participating in the network of relevant peers and telling stories. One peer at a time ;-).
    Laurent

  4. Lou Hoffman July 19th, 2010 4:52 pm

    Well put.

    “One peer at a time.”

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