A few observations:
Billable hours aka how can I justify the investing on engaging with bloggers?
Time and time again, contributions from PR people moved into the realm of billable hours. And that’s perfectly understandable. In a business where the monthly retainer from clients is bread and butter, time is money.
But PR head, how can you not? When you think about it, the world is changing. People are not getting their entertainment or news through traditional media. So, engaging (I hate that word) with bloggers is vital. It’s as important as that call to check that a press release was received or following up on the details of an event with a client. It’s a skill that needs to developed more.
PR people don’t charge their clients to learn how to send an email. They don’t charge to know where their list of media contacts is saved internally. They don’t charge for the quality of their relations with those in the media. (Although quality is always recognised). Why should they charge for the foundation work of building knowledge or contacts in the blogging world. To me, it’s a long-term strategy that PR people need to play. Like building lung capacity for a marathon.
Given some chat last night, I think it would be far easier for a blogger to up sticks and become a go-to PR professional that could shark the market on engaging with bloggers.
Free does not always mean me
Darragh had some interesting points on asking for invitations and about exclusivity meaning something to bloggers. Being invited to see something or asked if you want to review a gadget is nice, but the integrity of the blog must be maintained. A blog is not an extended ad or somewhere to talk up everything and anything on regular basis. It’s not an excuse for freebies or gaining a social life. It’s a slice of someone’s brain.
Reading blogs that continously zip from A to B to C in an events frenzy is not only incredibly boring but also reads smarmy. “What so X went Y and Z and this happens day in, day out?” So, where is the objectivity? Is this person continuously for sale? They write glowing reviews about things they go to. Where is the integrity?
I suppose in a way, it’s a warning to both PR heads and bloggers that good judgement is needed. PR people ought to protect the image of their clients by working with bloggers with a reputation for independence and writing honest reviews. Bloggers ought to question where their voice sits and keep their fingers true. Bloggers are not for sale.
You can’t learn piano from a book
PR people need to blog. Blog regularly. Meet bloggers informly, not at pure networking events either. One of the PR speakers last night remarked that PR heads were hesitant to connect with bloggers because of the fear of being the one who messed up relations for a client. That’s a short game. It indicates the underlying fear in the PR industry that they can’t control what people say about there products online. But the future is here, the Internet has disrupted the traditional feeding cycle of client -> PR -> media -> Joe Soap. Your clients products and events are already being talked about in the wild. And you aren’t there.
The sooner PR people blog, tweet, go to Tweetups, support the Blog Awards by giving prizes or goodies and go to them, the better. You can read all the advice in the world about how to approach bloggers from Social Media (Meijit) Consultants but until you actually start typing and meeting them in the flesh, you’ll never truly understand the medium.
Got any more?
(Update: Excuse the edits, I typed this up in a whirlwind)