Gini Dietrich

PR Pros: Stop Treating Bloggers Like Second-Class Media

By: Gini Dietrich | September 22, 2010 | 

How many of you go to cocktail parties and, when you say you’re in public relations, the person you’re speaking with says something along the lines of, “Oh. You’re a spin doctor.”?  And how many of you own businesses that need external PR help but have spent way too much money for nothing in return?

I don’t have proof of this, but I believe, as industries go, public relations is at the bottom of the heap…with attorneys and used car salesmen. As an industry, we have done a horrible job of doing our own PR, as evidenced by the “PR is not publicity. Publicity is not PR.” blog post I wrote last week.

Last night I participated in #SBT10 chat (or Start Blogging Today), as a guest, with moderators Danny Brown, Grant Griffiths, and John Haydon. Never have I so violently been reminded about how unethical, demanding, and just plain old wrong some professionals are in our industry. The first few questions I received were along the lines of, “As bloggers, how do we pitch PR firms so they pay attention to us?”


Then, on the heels of that question came, “While I’m not an A-list blogger, I have an engaged audience that fits really well for some companies. Why aren’t PR firms paying attention to me?”


I began to feel my blood pressure rise as I realized these bloggers, who produce great and revelant content and who have extremely engaged audiences, aren’t being paid attention to by PR professionals because their traffic numbers aren’t as high as the “A-list bloggers.” This is absolutely dumbfounding to me. Why, if you have an engaged audience who trusts you, believes in you, and follows your recommendations, would it matter that you’re not an A-list blogger?

But the kicker for me was this question, “Why do PR pros tell me what to write when giving me something to review?”

That’s like a PR pro calling a reporter at the New York Times and saying, “I’ll send you this book/shoes/iPad if you write exactly what it says in the news release.”


PR pros: It’s called “earned” media for a reason. You have to earn the coverage for your clients (or the companies where you work). We are not in a demanding position. We are not the ones with leverage. Build relationships. With everyone. This includes bloggers. The backbone of our industry has not changed, even with the web. Relationships are earned through selfless acts and through helpfulness and kindness. And, for heaven’s sakes, stop demanding what they write! Most bloggers have an audience. They have people who care what they write. Do you really think if you demand they write a certain way or copy and paste your news release, their readers won’t notice?

Bloggers: Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s not your job to pitch PR firms. It’s their job to build relationships with you and find a way, that makes sense for what you already write and provide to your readers, to fit their client’s products and services into your content. If you write relevant content, the PR firms will find you. We have lots of tools to do just that. Make sure you’re registered on Technorati and that the industries you serve know who you are (i.e. lots of industries will write lists of bloggers to follow in their trade publications). And don’t answer pitches that a) don’t make sense for your blog; b) ask you to write something specific; and c) are very obviously copy and paste emails that have clearly gone to everyone…which means the PR pro hasn’t taken the time to get to know you or your blog.

For both sides: It is the law that you disclose any free items that are given/received for reviews. So, if you receive a book to review, make sure you note that when you write about it. Otherwise both of you can get into a lot of trouble.

#SBT10 is held on Twitter every Tuesday at 8 p.m. CT. It’s not likely there will be PR discussion every week, but join in, if you can. And stop treating bloggers like second-class media. They have just as much (and in some cases, more) influence as the traditional media.

And now I leave it to you…PR pros, what advice do you have for bloggers so they are “noticed” by you. And bloggers, what advice do you have for PR pros so they have a better chance of you writing a review for them?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • This session was very interesting to me also Gini, I guess the PR industry has a PR problem with Bloggers? 🙂

    • Hi Joe! I’d say so…and a big problem with other professionals, as well. We’re seriously seen as lowly pros with really bad reputations for lying. I hate it.

      • Ironically this was not the first time this recently I’d heard people complain about PR firms. In a meeting with a potential client last month I was thanked for providing some indication of my capabilities (as an IT Consultant) and the client went on to say how annoyed they were with the lack of similar practices by PR firms. Evidently they were also shopping for PR help at the same time, making some improvements across the board. I appreciate your passion for your trade and disgust against people who don’t represent your trade well. I’d love to have you as a guest on my Podcast some time to elaborate on this discussion.

        • Joe, that story is one we hear quite often, as well. The other part of that story is that MANY PR firms are afraid to partner with other agencies so things like IT, UI, and customer experience go out the window. It’s very disappointing. And…I’d love to be a guest!

  • I followed parts of this convo last night. I, like many others, have a rather humble blog with loyal readers, and it seems that the only blogs that get the attention are the mommy blogs with droves of hits, lots of frivolous comments, and frivolous material.

    My blog currently has been highlighted by blogger in their blog of note, by wordpress in their freshly pressed blog, and picked up and linked to by some really neat blogs.

    So where does my blog fit into this whole scheme or PR recognition? No where because I don’t have a distinct theme to my blog.

    How does one overcome that?

    • Adam, choose a theme? 🙂 I just scrolled through your blog and read a few of the entries (the crazy lady in your house? OMG!). I have two questions for you: Why are you blogging and what do you want to achieve with the blog? I see it’s two years old. Where do you want it to be in another two years?

      • Yeah, the crazy neighbor saga has been a well read post, but to answer your questions;

        Why am I blogging? I started blogging way back in 2004 on myspace a catharsis. I was going through some huge life changes, and I started putting up some stories, so my friends could comment and tell me I wasn’t alone.

        I wound up moving to Blogger in 2008 because someone at my locks newspaper read some of my stuff on myspace and said I could right my own stories, but failed miserably at writing about other people’s stories. I sent back an email that said I could gain a loyal following and write just as good as her newspaper, so I set out to keep my personal stories, but get them to the masses. Every single comment and follower is a vindication that I can write compelling stories that people like to read.

        Part 2 is that I also am I writer, I currently have 2 fi jshed manuscripts

        • Apologies, stupid fat thumbs hit send before I was done. So yes, I’m a writer and really my blog is just a writing exercise.

          So where do I see myself in two years? I see myself slowly growing and having the gumption to try and get some of my manuscripts published. Freelancing is always a dream of mine as well.

        • So, if your goal is to get published, I would use the blog for exactly that. Every blog post should be a small part of a larger book. And you don’t have to worry about PR firms noticing you because you’re not using the blog to make money or review products/services. Keep writing so you can compile the posts into a book!

  • How many papers though are short staffed now and literally will print any press release you send? Of course these aren’t major markets doing this, but I know from experience that I can get anything I want printed just by sending it to the paper.

    • Dallas, there is a difference between that (which does happen, unfortunately) and having a strategic PR program in place…that includes bloggers and reporters who can help you get more brand awareness and more sales. So, I ask you, what’s your point in getting anything you want printed?

  • Helen M. Ryan

    When I write for my large online outlet, I usually have PR firms jumping to get me what I need. When I write for smaller online outlets (like my own blogs) I know I can pretty much kiss goodbye any chance of getting information or contacts I need. So I tailor my content for each outlet, knowing how differently each one is viewed. When I write for the “little guys” I know I am on my own.

    • Helen, this is SO disturbing to me. And you support my point. It’s ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.

  • Great post Gini. I have to say for a long time I was hesitant about identifying my work as PR..I stuck to “Communication” because I know the connotation that comes with “PR” to some people. Working for a large PR firm never interested me because of the amount of restrictions and the hesitance to change. I think bringing this conversation to the forefront is important and just the start to help correct what “PR” truly is.

    I look forward to joining in on this chat next week!

    • Rachael, YOU AND ME BOTH!!!!!!!!!! I always say communications; never PR.

  • Gini,

    If a PR firm wants to be “A-list” shouldn’t they have their own blog to build a relationship with “A-list” bloggers? Wouldn’t Arment-Dietrich pursue that strategy? Just sayin’.

    • Barry, I disagree. We don’t pursue relationships with A-list bloggers in order to become A-list ourselves. Nor do we do that for clients. What we do is find out who are the most influential bloggers, experts, thought leaders, and reporters in the space and work with them. You can have HUGE influence without having huge traffic numbers. Take this blog, for instance. We are not the number one PR blog, in terms of traffic. But our readers are more engaged than those of our competitors. If a PR firm is smart, they’ll pitch us for things that we can help their clients pursue (business books are a good example). But, instead, we get the standard copy and paste email pitches that everyone else gets. These PR pros aren’t reading this blog. They aren’t engaging. They aren’t developing relationships with me. If they did, they’d know what to pitch me. Instead, they’re focused on our competition…who have huge traffic numbers, but no engagement from readers.

      • Gini,

        I apologize for in any way insinuating that Arment-Dietrich engages in less than best practices. In an ateempt to be witty, I did a poor job of communicating. At least I gave you an opportunity to show a direct but dignified way of addressing a potential negative and turning it. I would be wise to heed the lesson. Keep on rocking.

        • Ah Barry! I totally missed the sarcasm. Still friends??

        • Why are you apologizing? Sarcasm missed is on the person attempting the sarcasm, especially while engaging (communicating?) in a public forum. A simple misstatement(Pay your doctor with a chicken) can have far reaching consequences. Still friends? You betcha!

  • Oh, my. This is such an invitation to one of my long and deep philosophical dissertations that you don’t want to read! I’ll behave myself as best I can. 🙂

    I’ve been around the ‘net for 25 years, blogging off and on for about 12. No, I’m not kidding. I’ve seen a lot of things come and go in that time.

    The biggest problem on the ‘net is separating out quality from the rest of it. Indeed, the egalitarian philosophy that most dedicated netizens carry at their core often insists that you can not / should not every separate based on quality.

    I happen to think this has terribly harmed the reputation of the ‘net, especially bloggers. I further think it fosters laziness and works against the craftsman ethic of constant improvement that I believe is the only way the ‘net will live up to its full potential.

    This view has gotten me into a lot of trouble over the years. I don’t like to go to “tweet-ups” and other gatherings in part because some people really don’t like what I have to say – and regard me as some kind of arrogant faker because I write about big ideas in a careful, measured way.

    But there is quality on the ‘net and we know it when we see it. Spinsucks is, by far, the best site for both posts and comments in the social media world IMHO. It’s worth promoting.

    Sadly, many people who don’t take the time to get to know you lump you in with the dreck. I can’t say I blame them, to be honest. But I will do my best to improve the reputation of all of us – because I am a craftsman who values what we all do when we do it well!

    • Erik, I’m with you…trying to improve the reputation of all of us. I mean, heck, that’s why the blog is named so…I HATE that our industry is seen as spin doctors. I’ve never lied or stretched the truth to tell a client’s story. I agree that if we all do it well, it benefits all of us.

  • Love this article. It definitely has to be a mutually beneficial relationship between Bloggers and PR. We can help each other!

    I also wonder about the future of the standard PR pitch. Many times, the companies are asking for what is essentially advertising, and content creation on their own websites- for free. For the “privilege” of being able to publish their information, or post their ad banner.

    Even though we’re bloggers, we should be given the same consideration as you would give any other spokesperson or content creator, am I going wrong somewhere?

    • Sarah, you bring up a really good point. I think PR pros consider bloggers journalists, therefore there is the division between church and state (editorial vs. advertising). I think that gap is being closed by bloggers disclosing they are doing a review in exchange for something (free product, free tickets, free service, etc.). But perhaps the next step is paying for the privilege of using your traffic. I don’t know, but it’s a great point!

      • Yes, they definitely see us as journalists. And in a sense, we can be. But the thing is, that we are also the publishers, the advertising dept., and the IT staff, among other things. So we aren’t getting paid by a publisher.

        I am starting to see myself more as a spokesperson/content creator, where I will create content articles, videos, live streams, and even incorporate new media consulting when I work with a company. And disclosure is OH so important!

        But like you pint out with earned media, if I have a relationship with a PR firm or company, I will go above and beyond without a fee.

        Does that make sense?

        • Sarah – your point totally makes sense. I’d honestly never considered that bloggers are journalists, publishers, advertisers, etc. I really like what you’re thinking here and want to explore it more.

  • Gini! SIGH! We in PR always and forever more shall get a bad rap. There are millions of practitioners with varying degrees of expertise touting it without results to back it up.

    Ethical values have always been top of mind, and there are some who play the other side for personal gain rather than client service.

    There are PR people like me (26 years) who subscribe to a higher plateau of professionalism and educate people by example that what we do is credible, reputable and worthy.

    Finally, I’d like to see you/me/whomever else launch a #PRChat to set the record straight and uphold the virtues of our profession. Perhaps this exists already?

    Enjoyed last night’s tete-a-tete for sure. La Crema Pinot Noir was in the bottle on my desk!

    • Jayme, perhaps we launch a #SpinSucks chat?!? I guess there are people in every profession who are not ethical and behave as snakes, but (for some reason) it seems more prevalent in our industry. The thing that bothered me so much last night is bloggers think they should be pitching PR pros as a service to their own readers. That just floored me.

      • Hi Jayme and Gini,

        I just want to say that I love the idea of a #SpinSucks chat. As a relatively new PR professional, I hate the negative perception our industry has and I’m always trying to read great blogs (like this one) to maintain good PR habits. A TweetChat would be a fantastic way to do that.


  • Gini — didn’t listen in on the twitter chat last night, but some thoughts.

    Relationship building needs to be a two-way street. Sure, as public relations pros we need to seek out the media outlets most appropriate for our news, whether that be traditional or online, and endeavor to provide valuable content and resources for those writers. But, it should not be entirely up to the pr person to establish those relationships. Why wouldn’t a blogger do a little research, introduce him/herself to the PR professionals in-house or at agencies that might be good source for them. With hundreds of relevant blogs coming online everyday,it might just set you apart.

    “A-list blogger” is a funny statement to me — if a blog has a small following but that following is relevant to my client, you become A-List. Just because you have a large subscription base doesn’t necessarily make you A-List for me.

    And as Dallas said, there are lots of print outlets that take our content verbatim and publish. I have worked with bloggers, too, that send me the questions, we answer and lo and behold the article appears just as we wrote it.

    So if that’s not the type of blog you are running, let us know. We will respect that and will still want to work with you to provide you with valuable content.

    One of my first bosses used to say that we should call this business “public relationships” because when it comes right down to it, the most success comes from strong and respectful relationships — agency/client, agency/media, media/agency.

    • Hi Abbie,

      It’s a fair point. But as someone coming at it from both a blogger and someone with a PR background, I know a lot of professionals in the industry who see a blogger email, and the first thing they say is, “What’s their Alexa rating?”.

      If you don’t hit the magical 100,000 or below, you’re toast.

      And there are very few great blogs that hit that number, because it’s often gamed by SEO tactics and “A-list” blogger teams forever linking to each other.

      Yes, blogging needs to have a say in how they can be viewed as key to PR agencies and brands. But PR agencies and brands need to also take their heads out of their number-crunching collective asses and stop being so snobbish.

      Note: This comment does not reflect on the very cool PR folks like you and Gini who do an awesome job. 🙂

      • Danny-and as someone very smart once said, pish posh!

        I continue to hope that we are moving away from numbers as a way of demonstrating success — on both sides of the issue.

        Appreciate the feedback.

        • Amen to that, miss 🙂

          And hey – you got to use pish-posh in a sentence. Woot!

        • Abbie and Danny – I have nothing more to add to this because you covered what I would have added. 🙂

  • Great post Gini! It seems to me if some PR Pros are only paying attention to A-list bloggers than they are truly not doing their job. Perhaps its laziness or not knowing how/what tools to use to laser target their audience and the bloggers who are the voice of that audience. Great reminder about disclosure as well. We talked about that at the PRSA Chicago Luncheon a few weeks ago!

    • Jillian, I think it’s pure and simple laziness. Just like PR pros don’t take the time to learn about the reporters they’re pitching, the same thing happens to bloggers. I should start posting here the pitch emails I get. You’d be amazed.

  • Hi, Gini…Great post with a lot to think about.

    I was actually encouraged recently after receiving two review copies of new business books that came only with some praise for my website; recognition that my audience might be interested in the books; and a request that I take a look and write what I think. No guidance. No suggestions.

    So maybe they’re starting to get the message. Or maybe it’s only a few, but kudos to the staff at Penguin for doing it right (at least with me).

    • Peter, it sounds like the person who sent you the books knows what they’re doing! There are a few of us out there that are good. 🙂 So which books are you reviewing?!?

  • Dee

    Thank you for the great article Gigi. I also did not listen in on the session but would love to some time in the near future.

    I am a blogger and have experienced some of the things you have brought up in your article. Although I do take time to “pitch” PR myself I have also had my own experiences of “cut & paste” pitches.

    I can offer you a few tips from a blogger’s standpoint. Do not leave the blogger hanging. I don’t know how many PR contacts I’ve waiting on to respond to an email either regarding doing a review or a follow up on a giveaway. Case in point, I hosted a giveaway on my blog back in February of this year for a company who had contacted me and when I sent her the winners information I never received a response. I then emailed her again and again and again. I even went as far as posting on her Twitter and Facebook profiles in order to get her attention. Nothing! I went to her website and used the contact form to send her a message. Someone finally responded so I explained why I was trying to reach her. They claimed they would forward my request and nothing. I sent a few more emails and FINALLY she responded. I had to tell her how unprofessional I thought she was. I am normally not that blunt but since the winner of my giveaway was emailing me asking when they would receive their prize, I was becoming irate at the whole situation. It not only makes the company look bad but it makes me look bad as well when someone does not receive what was promised to them.

    I also just a few months ago worked with an apparel company who, through their fault not mine, sent me the wrong sized item that I was supposed to review. I also explained to them that their size chart on their site was completely wrong. They agreed yet it is still there today. The PR contact I was communicating with was very unprofessional. She went as far as asking me to remove a portion of my review because I was honest with my readers about my whole experience with this company. I explained the mix-up on sizes, the size chart issue and the fact that shipping was extremely slow. She did not like that I included that in my review and wanted me to remove it. I’m sorry but when I review a product I am reviewing my whole experience. I am sharing with my readers exactly what happened, shipping, the quality of the item, if I received the correct item, etc. I give a lot of detail in my reviews, include images, links, the whole nine yards. I’m very thorough and for someone to ask me to change my review to make them look good, I don’t agree with that. It seems very shady to me. And in my opinion it would be lying to my readers which I am not willing to do.

    I honestly think I spend way more time on my blog than a lot of other people. Time that I could be spending with my family but I take great pride in it. And I love sharing my opinions, life experiences and thoughts on products and services I have received.

    Oh, and I have been the victim of, I guess, not being on the A-list of bloggers. Some PR have not asked for my stats but most do and although I’ve been told time and time again how detailed I am at writing, and I have a pretty good readership, I have had some PR contacts actually tell me I did not have a large enough follower base. They expected a whole lot more. More unique monthly visitors, more page views, etc. I may not have as large of an audience as some but I’ve actually checked out some of the blogs that ARE considered A-list and I honestly have to say that the writing skills are just not there. The content does not make sense, lots of misspelled words, etc. So, if that is what PR is looking for, I guess I will never fit that bill.

    • Dee, you just very eloquently proved my point. Thank you for sharing your experiences with PR people. As I always say, “I love it when other PR people make us look so good.”

  • Dee

    I forgot to mention that my winner from the February giveaway finally received her prize 6 1/2 months later. And there have been some PR contacts that have asked me to do a review and or giveaway or post some other content and after I did and sent them an email with a link to my post, have never gotten back with me.

  • Thank you, Gini, for your boldness, insight, and honesty. I truly believe we can build mutually beneficial relationships that will influence and shape the new media world, through following much of this post and listening to one another.

    It is discouraging when companies continue to reach out to A-list only bloggers or possibly worse, request free advertisement disguised as a “limited review opportunity” to 100s of bloggers in a spamming type email.

    I know you encourage us to continue to create great content and be involved in the blogging business aspect, but are there any other tips or tools you would encourage a blogger to use in order to be “discovered” by potential business relationships? Our blog ( ) has maintained a large, loyal, engaged, and compassionate audience that is often overlooked.

    Again, thank you for addressing this pertinent issue and raising the bar for both bloggers and PR reps alike!

    • QuatroMama. HOLY CRAP! You have quadruplets! I just spent some time on your blog; it looks like you’re doing exactly the right things. You have some advertisers on there that fit your message, you have contests and information that fit your theme, and you have readers who also have multiples.

      To take your blog to the next level, I would sit down (if you’ve not already done this) and write down the top 10 companies you think have something that would be of great benefit to your readers and, by working with you, will be of great benefit to them. For instance, St. Vincent’s is a great organization for you. What do they have/do that you could review or provide to your readers for increased awareness for them and better information for your content? Then go online and find out a) if the companies have their own social networks and b) who does their PR. These are simple Google searches. Once you discover who you can connect with, do so by engaging them online. Just like you do your readers.

  • Gini, In my Vistage group, whenever someone mentions a PR firm, most people rill their eyes. It is like having to get a physical or something uncomfortable like that. And when someone reports back something positive, the first question is; “What was your ROI”? I think there are no standards in the industry so anyone with some college courses call themselves a PR firm or expert. Can you point to some kind of affiliation that helps people qualify the great PR firms form the ones who are hot air? Hope that question does not drive you crazy.

    • Gary, I love you for asking this question! It doesn’t drive me crazy because I get it ALL THE TIME. In fact, a client just said to me today, “We’ve never done this before and we’re taking a leap of faith. You are going to deliver these results you’ve outlined?” Of course we are…no matter what it takes. But that’s what makes us so different.

      There isn’t an affiliation that helps business leaders know which PR firm is good and which is full of hot air. But there are PR firms/professionals who understand business. And, if they understand business, the programs they create for you will tie directly to your goals, not to increased brand awareness and impressions. If a PR firm can show you how their work will help you drive sales/leads/traffic (whatever your goals are), and they can prove they’ve done it with other clients, you likely have a diamond in the rough.

  • Hey there miss,

    First, thank you for being such an awesome guest on last night’s chat, and for offering some great advice for both sides of the fence.

    Part of me wonders if it’s a control issue? To a degree, many PR pro’s like to feel they have control of their client – how they present to the media, what questions can be answered, what can’t, how to respond to crisis, etc.

    With bloggers, you don’t (or shouldn’t) have that control. Their only commitment is to their readers, and to be honest to them.

    If that means giving a crappy review of a product, or calling out the ethics of the client you’re trying to promote, that raises alarm bells.

    Or maybe it is reach. When you’re used to having a slot on NBC, do you really want to have to deal with 100 bloggers that might be the local cable equivalent? (And I use that term with the greatest of respect, as a blogger myself).

    Um, yes you do. Because you do not know how far these 100 bloggers may take you. And these 100 bloggers are interested in your product; you may not necessarily have to pitch too hard.

    Compare that to your huge wining and dining budget just to get a slot in the local paper…

    Just my two cents. And thanks for being the PR agency the bad ones should look to, and the good ones are already emulating.

    • Danny,

      I think the control issue sometimes falls back on the client. Clients who assume or insist on favorable reviews, wonder why the media used X picture instead of Y, questioning the PR pro about why they also–heresy–quoted competitors too. And the PR pro not doing a better job training and educating that client.

      As far as reach, it’s shotgun vs. laser focus. Sure you may have made GMA or Oprah, but if your customer’s aren’t watching the 100 niche blogs may do a better job earning results. FWIW.

      • I’d agree to a degree, Davina, but then it boils back to the PR pro having the gumption to tell the client they were hired for a reason.

        “I want to get you the best reach possible. If that means taking a hit, and correcting information (or acting on it to say you’ll take that on board for the next iteration), that’s going to be far better for you than trying to control our outreach. If you want to get that reach, you need to leave the strategy and advice to us.”

        Otherwise, if you’re just letting the client run over you control-wise, why do they even need you?

        • Agree Danny, that’s why I mentioned client training and education. It’s up to the PR pro to tell the client what is the right news for the right audience, develop that working relationship.

    • Danny, you bring up a very good point about control. In the old days, we would ask reporters for the questions in advance of an interview, we’d message the answers, and we’d rehearse them over and over and over again with the client. And when I say “old days,” I mean two years ago. Those days are over. Long over. It’s our jobs to educate our clients in the changing environment and help them understand what works and what doesn’t work. If we can’t do that, you’re right, what’s the point in them having us?

  • Gini, I caught the chat last night, agree with so much of what you wrote, the comments.

    Technorati. Is that the end-all, be-all of blog registries? I quibble only b/c of technical difficulties I can’t login, register, unregister, list my blog. And I can’t get anything more than an auto-reply from “support.”

    Love Abbie’s point about if a blog hits all the client’s happy spots, it IS “A list” no matter how big or small the audience.

    Taking it back to your advice to PR and bloggers, it all boils down to doing it “right” and everyone acting professionally. Pitch the right blogs for the client’s product/service; accept the right pitches for the blog, etc.

    • Davina, I love Technorati simply because I can get a quick snapshot of who writes about tree frogs, no matter how large their traffic. Sometimes I just want to talk to bloggers who write about tree frogs.

      • I know Gini, just tweaked I never solved my technical issues; frustrated by lack of support and don’t have time to try submitting my blog again.

  • We hear this a lot. Many of our clients ask us to recommend a good PR person, because they have had bad experiences. We have reached out to many firms to work together to offer our clients & theirs the best solutions, but most are not open to it. We have even run into some who feel they are the web experts and we are the little people they dish orders to, instead of hearing our ideas or solutions.

    • Jennifer, it makes me CRAZY when agencies won’t work together. It’s like being in the big agency and not being allowed to work with other profit centers or other offices for fear of giving up your budget. Give me a break. If you really are out for the client’s best interest, find the right people to work with, no matter where the money goes.

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  • Hi Gini, I missed the chat last night, ironically because I was doing a presentation on social media for paralegal professionals. I will have to find the transcript of the chat, it sounds fascinating.

    I ran a non-profit (Wausau Whitewater) for 12 years. I worked a little with PR firms for sponsorship but more with reporters from print, radio, and television.

    I find it hilarious that now that I am on my own in the career industry in a climate where unemployed, job search, resumes, etc are top news but I am no longer a source. People (reporters) who know what I am doing,know me personally, may follow me on Twitter or FB, have been told I would be happy to be a resource locally… totally forget me. However, I was always on TV, radio, or in print with WW…

    • Julie, it’s one big circle, isn’t it? It is odd, though, that you’re friends with reporters and they don’t think of you as a resource. I guess it’s time to hit them over the head!

      • Gini, you will always make me laugh! One more ironic… I wrote the resume of one of the city editors and he is now re-employed… of course it was his network that did it, nothing to do with a resume that captured his value proposition and made him marketable or the coaching that made him more confident and better able to articulate that value… hmmmm….

        • Julie, those of us in service businesses are in totally thankless jobs. People don’t know what they’re missing when they don’t have us and don’t realize, when they do have us, how much value we provide until we’re gone. Sigh…

  • Oh, I agree. I have a little blog — but I’m also in public relations. So when I get pitches for my blog that are just so horrible and off, I’m embarrassed for my profession. Today I got one that was thanking me for a review I did — and it was addressed to the wrong person! Eye roll worthy.

    • Natalie, that makes me embarrassed for our industry, too! I received a pitch from a global PR firm a couple of weeks ago that several of us received because we were all on the same blogger list. It was the exact, same email. To all of us. Trust me, we compared notes.

  • OMG, Gini, what a great post and what awesome comments! I wish I’d seen this earlier today (you’re in my Reader but I had to go out for a day full of meetings). So much to say, where to start, and what can I say that hasn’t been repeated?!

    This reminds me a little of what I wrote in my BNET post about leaving PR to the pros. At the moment, I publish in three places: my own blog, BNET and I edit/manage a blog community for a client. I cannot tell you how many emails I get from PR “firms” (note the quotes) with a news release cut and pasted, telling me “my readers” would love this story.

    Oh, really? Which readers? Why? I’d so much rather a few bullet points as to what’s cool about this potential story than this nonsense. Ironically, this is the same advice folks like you and I have received and try to pass on to professionals, and now we’re on the receiving end of it.

    In a way, that’s rather fascinating. The “pitchers” have become the “pitchees.” I think your advice for both PR firms and bloggers are extremely salient (that’s a word I learned in 6th-grade geography, btw, and I try to throw it in wherever I can ;)).

    Firms – and not all pitch this badly, but many do – need to get smart about pitching and stand firm with their clients about who they’re pitching and why it’s relevant. Often the big wave comes after many ripples, which, especially with search playing such an important role these days, is really something they need to think about. Forget about the numbers. Figure out who’s “influential” based on real research and not some crappy list somewhere.

    Bloggers need to do one thing: blog. I know this is easier said than done, and I too have struggled with finding focus for my blog; don’t know that I’ve gotten it completely down, but I *think* I’m getting better… you tell me and you’re welcome to smack me down! If they/we do, it’s not just the firms that will find us, but other opportunities, such as trade media, other platforms (such as BNET for me), and … to me this is very important – new business and clients.

    • Shonali, I read that post you wrote about leaving PR to the pros and I agree with you. You and I may as well have the same brain because I’m yelling “YES!” at every comment you make here…including bloggers need to do one thing: Blog. Yes, yes, yes! I always say that media relations is a thankless job – you get one big wave and everyone is screaming, “What’s next?” the very next day. Let’s focus less on the big waves and more on driving business goals for our clients. I KNOW you and I agree on that!

      P.S. I love salient!

  • Gini,

    Sorry I am late to the conversation but I followed the #SBT10 chat and sensed your frustration in one of your early tweets. I knew there would be a blog post coming from that experience.

    This “social medium” we are involved in when you reduce it to its essence is about relationships and media. As you correctly note earned media is earned. It is earned because of the client’s story and the relationships we have with the reporters, broadcasters, publishers, bloggers etc.

    Social networking provides opportunities to exponentially build relationships with the media. If we are good at relationship building we will find the right influencer’s to assist us in telling our client’s stories. We will notice which bloggers have an audience that would be receptive to our message, and work on establishing and growing the relationship. In the true spirit of the medium, it is about providing them with valuable content and ideas and determining how we can assist them professionally. If they are good, we will find them. If they are looking for us, I wonder just how good they are.

    • Ray, we talked about this issue last week when we spoke, but you’re absolutely right. After the chat, I realized it’s not that they’re not good enough…it’s that they just don’t know. But I set them straight! 🙂

  • I love Shonali’s the “pitchers have become the pitchee” comment. There’s a few blog posts in that statement alone. Fact is, for people like us, we’re hyper-aware of how we’re pitched based on what we do each day. So, I think our radar’s are a bit higher than most.

    The big issue for me the other night, as I was following along and participating, too, was how we approach and pitch these smaller blogs. Like I said, you don’t have to have 100K followers to be influential.

    What’s interesting to me is that we know WOM facilitates and influences purchase decisions, right? Then, why do we think “A-listers” are the only ones who can do that? At the core, don’t people trust other people like them? Do they really *trust* these A-listers? I’m not so sure. I just think about my own behavior online. Sure, I read the Solis’, Shankmans and Brogans of the world. But, do I trust them? Hell, I don’t even really know those guys (although I will say they probably influence my behavior in other ways). I’m much more inclined to truly trust folks like David Mullen, Richie Escovedo, Shonali Burke, Amy Mengel and Rachel Kay for starters. If they make a recommendation, I’m definitely listening. Are those folks “A listers”? Probably not. Does it matter? I don’t think so.

    We need to get over this A-lister exclusivity thing. Now.


    • Oh Arik, you and I agree so much! This whole A-lister as the only influential bloggers thing drives me crazy. It absolutely does not matter if you have 100 readers or 100,000. What does matter is how much respect you have from those who do pay attention to what you have to say.

      BTW, #MLR next year. You in??

  • There are SO many wonderful comments following a very smart post…thanks Gini! What is most frustrating to me is the failure of marketing/communications professionals as a whole (not just PR) to embrace The Shift we are seeing in communications. The Shift has moved from one-way to two-way, from telling to listening and from disruption to invitation. This particular example around the failure of many “PR pros” and organizations as a whole to embrace the power that these influencers (bloggers) have on thier respective audience…is huge. As Arik Hanson said in his comment, “you don’t have to have 100K followers to be influential.” The power of WOM can start with 25 REALLY ENGAGED individuals who share, advocate and embrace.
    I look forward to having this conversation for a long time to come – let’s cross our fingers that the image of this profession (PR) will come along with us:). Thank you again for starting this conversation!

    • Matt – perhaps this part of the conversation we can have on the 12th!

  • Gini,

    I love *LOVE* this. I should probably respond to this with a internet fist-bump of sorts, or something intelligent or business-like, but seriously, I love this so much, I want to hug it. And you. Is that weird? 🙂

    • Lisa, I will take that hug! And so will this blog post!

  • You and your readers may enjoy perusing an article I wrote about email marketing pitches not to emulate. See and you can also check out the comments.

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  • This stems from the same issue our industry has always had – PR executives being lazy and not doing their homework. They find the “popular bloggers” because it’s easy. It would take research and *gasp* billable time to find, read and properly pitch bloggers who aren’t written about in INCMagazine or AdWeek every week. And, *gulp* even more time to build relationships with them – oh, and actually read their stuff.

    It’s the same issue it’s always been – the PR industry likes to take short cuts to keep those billable hours high.

    This is a great blog post – I love your energy and enthusiasm. But our industry needs a total sea change – starting with agencies and the way they bill their time; what they see as worthwhile. They hand a list to junior executives and then pressure them to hit as many as possible – not to do a good job finding and building relationships.


    Christine Perkett

    • Christine, Wouldn’t it the same billable time we spend researching and networking with mainstream journalists and media who cover key topics? I mean, if we only focused on the top 10 or top 100 mass media outlets that cover that subject on occasion, but ignored the 100s of smaller outlets and niche media that cover that topic all the time, we’d be doing a disservice to the client. Agree we can’t take short cuts, and the research and relationship building is an important part of the job. FWIW.

  • On a related note, I asked the PR industry how they build their influencer lists this week – and if they include fellow industry colleagues who are marketing/PR thought leaders and bloggers. I made a similar point – build relationships, approach intelligently. I said if you’re pitching such bloggers you might have to be even more personable than pitching media. Is this so hard?


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  • I absolutely LOVE your passion on this topic. So…I linked to it on a post about how blogs aren’t dead, they’re maturing. This was intended for marketers who perhaps don;t appreciate what PR does in the modern era.

  • Some friends and I were having a similar discussion recently.

    PR firms forget that they can use us, the bloggers, as consultants. Who knows the mom bloggers better than a mom blogger who’s been in the social media circles for a long time (ex: I’ve been on Twitter since 2007)? I’m not an A-lister (or even B or C or D), but I know a *LOT* of moms online — I read their blogs, their Twitter and FB streams. And I’ve met a good portion of them at conferences. If PR firms don’t have the time or inclination to research the people they’re pitching, they could easily find a consultant to help with that.

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  • jackiej04

    Completely agree! PR pros should give thanks to the great publicity bloggers bring to their clients. Great post!

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  • Our agency is working hard to catch up on blogs but it can seem daunting because the sheer volume of bloggers makes the environment so fluid and without the old publisher/editor relationship, the content doesn’t always fit into neat categories. Bloggers, forgive us if we mess up in our attempts to learn this new media. We hope to deliver value in terms of in depth behind the scenes information for your readers… really, some of us folks in PR really do want to be useful.

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  • ginidietrich

    seanmcginnis You’ve been stalking me for seven months?!

  • @ginidietrich seanmcginnis Time flies when you’re having fun, don’t it? Haha! Think I’ll change the tagline on my blog: “Perfecting the art of digital stalking”

  • ginidietrich

    @Sean McGinnis Love it! It definitely fits.

  • @ginidietrich Haha! You love it! What else would you do with your day? Hang out with Gumby?

  • ginidietrich

    @Sean McGinnis Well. Yes.

  • @ginidietrich Why are you even commenting on this old post, anyway. Don’t you have a developer or three to flog right about now?

  • ginidietrich

    @Sean McGinnis I do, but this is way more fun.

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  • LucretiaMaddenPruitt

    You and I are going to have a long conversation over this accompanied by some few close friends and a ready stream of service from the bar.

  • ginidietrich

    @LucretiaMaddenPruitt I cannot wait!!

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