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.”
GIVE ME A FREAKING BREAK!
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?