Friday, July 22, 2005

Blacklisting PR pros

There's an ongoing meme about creating a blacklist of irresponsible PR folks, the gist of which is nicely summarized here by Shel Holtz. Basically some bloggers are beginning to complain that PR practitioners are sending out these horrendous blast emails that contain gushing prose, overembelashed copy and most importantly a lack of understanding as to what the blogger writes about.

It's a legitimate complaint. There's nothing worse than a useless email. I'm not exactly a household name in the PR or movie industry and yet I've gotten a few unsolicited pitches that have made me shake my head in wonder. Just what these people hope to accomplish with this kind of tactic is beyond me. Not only is the blog community too savvy for this kind of tactic the general audience is as well.

So here's a little tip for pitching bloggers, take directly from the "Introduction to Blogs" white paper I wrote for Bacon's Information:

1. Expose all potential conflicts of interest or corporate ties right off the bat. If these relationships are not admitted initially, the blogger will find them. By being upfront, you have inoculated yourself to some extent against a potential backlash that could cause negative publicity for your company.

2. Be familiar not only with the blog you are pitching but also with other blogs linked from that site that cover the same topic. Remember that blogs thrive on a sense of community. Bloggers want information to be shared and are not as concerned with exclusives as traditional media outlets.

3. Personalize your pitch. Don’t just include their email in a blast mailing of a press release. Bloggers like to feel special and a generic email is likely
to fall on deaf ears.

4. Remember that blog writers, in order to stay relevant in the eyes of their readers, need to be honest above all else. They will publish their unvarnished opinion of a product - warts and all. Keep in mind that the risks associated with blogs need to be accepted along with their potential benefits.

5. Like traditional media outlets, the more popular blogs are the often the most
difficult to break into. Find a mid-tier blog for that first impression and let the story work its way out from there. Because there is a good deal of cross-linking among blogs within a niche, if one picks it up there is a good chance others will report on the story or do their own investigation. By incorporating some form of blog monitoring, you will be able to see how effectively this works and react
appropriately.


To that I'd now add your company or agency should make RSS feeds available for releases and other announcement. If a blog writer covers your industry they'll subscribe to the feed and get the important information that way.