Archive for the 'blogs' Category

Blogger relations 2.1?

It all started with this: Gina Trapani of Lifehacker , apparently tired of getting news releases sent to her personal email address, created a wiki page that allows bloggers to automatically filter any domain listed on the wiki page as spam in Gmail (if you look at the bottom of the page, she explains in detail why she created the list). Matt Haughey explains his and Gina’s feelings about “PR Spam” in his personal blog, saying that he rarely receives anything useful from public relations practitioners in his inbox.

The public relations community, especially those that are passionate about using social media as a part of public relations, was quick to respond. In response to a post by Kelli Matthews on PR Open Mic, Robert French argues that while “blast emailing” news releases worked a long time ago, it is both unprofessional and doesn’t have the same effect as it did back in the day. Rick at Blog World believes that part of being a blogger is press releases sent to blogger’s inboxes and responding accordingly. Brian Solis at PR 2.0 emphasizes that practitioners cannot cut corners when it comes to pitching by mass emailing and offers some insight on how we should look at pitching to bloggers:

The honest answer is that if you’re looking at the process of shifting from automated outreach to one-on-one pitching, then the road from here to there may seem endless and improbable. If you start on the path and decide that 1/2 way is sufficient, then you may want to glance ahead and realize that the right way to do things is just ahead of you. That’s where you need to be.

Long story short: Blogger relations is still a relatively new and evolving area in public relations. And while firms such as SHIFT Communications have made leaps in bounds in the area of blogger relations, I think there is still plenty of room for progress to be made.

This is what I think needs to change in order to successfully build relationships with bloggers:

  1. Stop sending out traditional press releases: Traditional press releases are boring. I know this is a cliché in the PR sphere, but this should be a no-brainer when talking to bloggers. A lot of the complaints made by Gina and Matt are that their personal inboxes are being spammed by practitioners, and I can only assume through what they’ve written that they’ve been receiving nothing but traditional press releases. Try this: Small, 200 word emails with a link to a website that hosts a social media release.
  2. Don’t rely on email to pitch: …at least to an extent. Again, small pitches containing a link with more information is going to be more helpful to bloggers. One of the ideas behind Web 2.0 is that consumers choose what sort of media they want to see (pull media) instead of media being pushed on consumers(push media). Mass emailing using services such as Bacon and Cision go against the the push media mantra by forcing bloggers to either read the email or delete it.
  3. Establish a strong web presence: If you want to coerce bloggers to write about what you’re pitching and are looking to rely less and less on email, a well established blog or website is essential. I personally think that both a blog and a website are necessary. Blogs are excellent for generating rapport and websites can host a social media releases. In addition, you can use the blog to point to your social media release.
  4. Read and comment: Relationships are built through authentic conversation; reading and responding to blogs will help you achieve both. Follow the blogs that you are looking to generate coverage from. Comment on anything you find interesting.
  5. Follow up on pitches: The bloggers who are complaining about press release spam feel as if the practitioners they are dealing with are making no attempt to establish a relationship with them. Matt Haughey wrote in a later post that he would appreciate a follow up email or phone call asking if the press release was relevant or not.
  6. Go with what works and trash what doesn’t: Because blogger relations is still evolving, there is much room for experimenting with what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to discard any methods that don’t work, even if they fall under the umbrella of traditional media relations.

Any other thoughts on what works and what doesn’t work?

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Tweet!

With blogs, Facebook status updates, and instant messaging, its hard to see at first why anybody would need a blogging service that places a 140 character limit on their blog post. Despite this, Twitter has a strong community of dedicated users all answering the question “What are you doing?”

Twitter allows users to post short and concise blog posts. Users can invite their friends and “follow” them similar to how Facebook users can add friends. Twitter users, however, can see all of their friend’s updates as well as their own. Twitter users can easily respond to “tweets” (the Twitter equivalent of a blog post) from other users and engage in conversation.

Because each “tweet” has to be less than 140 characters long, Twitter users can choose to have their follower’s “tweets” sent to their mobile phones. Users can also upload “tweets” via text messaging. There are actually a few instances where users have used the Twitter text message feature to avoid sticky situations (you have to click “Show Entire Post” at the top of the page… darn you, blogger).

Darren Rowse at problogger says that twitter is also useful for keeping in touch with people who read your blog. Many prominent bloggers, such as Kevin Rose of Digg, keep Twitter accounts to keep up with their readers. Some newspapers, such as the New York Times, post recently updated headlines on their twitter accounts (the Times has an account for World News, National News, Sports, ect.).

When blogging for ISA, I’ve used Twitter to keep people up to date on events that we’re hosting as well as alert people when there’s something new going on with our blog or our organization. It drives a lot of traffic to the blog and I’ve received nothing but positive feedback from using Twitter to keep people updated on the fly.

First Post

Hello! My name is Bryan Saxton. I am a third year public relations student at the University of Oregon and the public relations officer for the University of Oregon’s International Student Association (ISA).

I am a self-proclaimed social media addict, and I’m interested in how PR practitioners can use social media sites, such as WordPress and Facebook to communicate to large audiences. As part of my duties for ISA, I’ve set up a blog that tries to keep people up-to-date with our group. It’s been an excellent medium for communication with people interested in ISA.

Most of the posts on this blog will be about trends in social media and how to make social media work for public relations. Hopefully, students of public relations and experienced public relations practitioners who are just getting started with social media will find this site helpful.

Photo taken by Sean Jin.


About Bryan Saxton:

I am a Journalism Student at the University of Oregon and the Public Relation's Officer for the International Student Association.
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