Gini Dietrich

The PR Pro and Blogger Manifesto

By: Gini Dietrich | June 30, 2011 | 

Yes, it’s Facebook question of the week time, but all you people have failed me. Minus Ryan Cox’s 20,000 questions, not one of you has asked a single question.

Do you feel guilty yet?

Good! Head over there and post a question on our wall. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Awesome! Thank you!

A few weeks ago, I spoke at the Vocus User’s Conference about the PR pro and blogger relationship. Because I sit on both sides of that relationship, it’s pretty easy to say what works and what doesn’t work.

Following is an intro I did about the topic (if you can’t see it in your Reader, click here and it’ll magically appear).

Part of that presentation (and something I developed for the presentation Danny Brown and I did at BlogWorld) was a PR pro and blogger manifesto and many people asked if I would blog it.

So here you go (as a return favor for posting a question on our Facebook wall)!

The PR Pro and Blogger Manifesto

  1. Understand the blogger’s goals. I know we’re all busy and that takes time, but trust me when I say it’s worth it. If you understand what they’re trying to achieve by keeping a blog, the better success you’ll have in working with them.
  2. Understand how PR reports to internal or external clients. Typically they’re given a set of criteria, including how many readers, pageviews, or even what your bounce rate is that they have to report up the chain. If the PR pro asks you for those stats and you don’t want to give them, understand you may be walking away from the opportunity of a freebie (or whatever the PR pro is offering).
  3. Research, research, and research some more. You can start by using Vocus, Burrelles, or Cision to create your database, but PLEASE do not send a mass email and use the unsubscribes to whittle down your list. That is called spam. Use the tools to build your database and then READ the blogs. READ the about pages. READ the comments. You’ll have a better understanding of who or what you’re pitching.
  4. Learn how to say no. If a PR pro approaches you with something you find interesting, but it really won’t fit with your blog, say NO. For heaven’s sakes, you can’t please everyone.
  5. Spam sucks and so do mass emails. I swear if I get one more freaking emailed news release with a note that says, “If you’d like to send a reporter or run this in your events section,” I’ll send flaming bags of poo to that PR pro’s home.
  6. Please understand PR does not control the story; the blogger does. This hasn’t changed, well, ever. You can do everything in your ability to build a relationship with the blogger so they’re more inclined to take your advice, but THEY are in control of the story. Do not rewrite their interview questions, get angry if they don’t like your product, or ask them to take down a blog post or rewrite it just because you don’t like it (unless it’s not factually correct).
  7. PR pro and bloggers, alike, are passionate about their work. Take that into account when you’ve entered a relationship with one another.
  8. Be yourself. No one likes a hand puppet from corporate. Just be yourself. Build a relationship. I know that takes time, but I promise it’s worth it.

I know there are PR pros and bloggers, alike, who read Spin Sucks. What would you add to the manifesto?

Special thanks to Lisa Gerber for her help with the manifesto…it was her idea to begin with.

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!

  • HLeichsenring

    Very interesting. I am often approached with ready articles and the question “could you bring this in your blog?”

    It is always a give and take (not in terms of money) but if someone want me to publish something, it has to be interesting (of course) but the point is, what is up for me: a backlink? useful information? helpful contacts opening doors?

    So dear PRs: Do not expect me as a blogger just to work for you, do provide something useful for me too

    Kind regards from Germany


  • ginidietrich

    @HLeichsenring Dear PR pros: Listen to Hansjorg!! Love, Gini

  • HowieSPM

    How come Jack Bauer was not at the conference co-chairing the talk with you?

    I think the heart of your manifesto besides shared property rights and communal living….well actually that is the heart of your manifesto (Karl Marx is laughing in his grave). Seriously communication has been socialized. Technology has empowered everyone should they choose to use it for good or bad. So the heart of this is if we are respectful of everyone as people whether they work as a traditional paid journalist, work for a company, is a PR Pro or somehow from their living room captured the attention of thousands or possibly millions somehow, there is a consideration and respect set of rules that go both ways.

    An armchair blogger can possibly help you as much as a feature writer for the NY Times if they have the proper readership. The best example of someone who doesn’t have the volume of readers/viewers but has an outsized impact is Charlie Rose. The business, political, and intellectual elite pay attention to his interviews and topics.

    From the blogger side wouldn’t you love to have content sent your way like an A Lister in Hollywood gets scripts where you can choose what fits and what works? And isn’t it ok if content that comes this way helps you grow your audience and prestige in your community?

  • sorry this isn’t about Google+ I don’t have time for this today

  • What happened to the orignal title ? 😉

  • ginidietrich

    @faybiz I got my invite and I fear I may not accomplish much today.

  • ginidietrich

    @johnfalchetto Honestly, I’m so over BWE I didn’t even want to mention that Danny and I started the manifesto there.

  • ginidietrich

    @HowieSPM The problem is, this isn’t new. It’s just now PR pros are also bloggers and vice versa. I can’t tell you how many PRSA events I’ve been to in my career where reporters have said, “Read my columns. Know my audience. If you do that and build a relationship, I’m more likely to run a story with you.” Yet NO ONE DOES THIS!

  • jackielamp

    Love the “manifesto” and definitely think it’s true. As a PR person I can’t help but think to myself….”man I wish I could just be the one getting pitched” I just want to be on the other end for once. It seems like it’s more fun. Haha 😉

  • C_Pappas

    So true that bloggers are just as influential, and in some cases more so, than the traditional media. This group should be considered on every PR plan and strategy (sadly it was not even attempted or suggested by the recent PR firm I worked with) and I love this manifesto you put together here. One thing I may add is that you need to build and nuture a give and take relationship just as you do with the media. One way to really get ‘in’ with a journalist is to help them, right? Give them the ‘second paragraph’ as David Meerman Scott talks about. Well, bloggers are no different. Bloggers respect people that interact with their community, help extend their reach and provide them with good ideas for content whether that’s your product or not.

  • lisagerber

    @megmroberts thanks for sharing that! 🙂

  • ginidietrich

    @jackielamp Oh it’s not more fun. It really makes me angry for our profession. I mean, REALLY angry.

  • ginidietrich

    @megmroberts Ah ha! I’m glad you saw it!

  • ginidietrich

    @Josepf Hello my long lost friend!

  • This is near and dear to my heart. I received a pitch this morning that was addressed to Dear Mommyblogger. Every time that happens I want to dress up in drag and go visit the person that sent me that note.

    There is really no reason for their to be an adversarial relationship between PR and bloggers. I blame most of that upon miscommunication and misunderstanding between the two sides.

    I have had more than a few conversations with other bloggers about the need to educate themselves about business and why they need to understand the PR side. It really helps to cut down on some of the issues.

    And it would behoove some of the people doing blogger outreach to follow the guidelines you listed above and to think about what they are doing. You don’t have to be the leading expert on my blog to gain my respect but I expect you to know that I am not “Mommyblogger” and to have at least skimmed it.

    It saves everyone time and energy.

  • @HLeichsenring Appropriate compensation for our time is reasonable.

  • SaraHamil

    THIS RT @martinwaxman PR folks: good advice to consider when you’re reaching out to media or bloggers from @ginidietrich

  • jesusdiaz

    @melanierenzulli Harmonious relationships between PR people and bloggers? Hilarious.

  • melanierenzulli

    @jesusdiaz Come now. Why are you surprised? I’ve got some fine PR relationships.

  • ginidietrich

    @KDillabough Did you see the questions they left on the page?!?

  • Neicolec

    I’ve been watching all of these posts about PR and bloggers, and PR people doing it wrong. I saw @dannybrown’s post the other day on a bad PR approach. We’re working on a small product that we hope to release this summer, and of course I want to send out a press release and I hope to get some coverage. While I can certainly avoid being obnoxious as per Danny’s post, reading all of these articles about what to do and what not to do has me worried! It’s like a newcomer to Twitter learning the etiquette. There’s a PR/blogger etiquette that you wouldn’t know if you weren’t in PR and/or a blogger big enough to be regularly approached.

  • ginidietrich

    @Neicolec I’ll help you! First, don’t send a press release. Secondly, use the bloggers you already have relationships with (cough, cough) to help you spread the word. Lastly, it’s all about the relationships so think about (now) who you would like to cover the product launch and start reading their stuff (now).

  • ginidietrich

    @TheJackB OMG! Getting “dear mommyblogger” violates so many points of the manifesto. I get there are two sides of the coin…bloggers need to do better and PR pros need to do better.

  • ginidietrich

    @C_Pappas My friend martinwaxman and I were JUST having the conversation that so many communication professionals aren’t even thinking about digital strategies. It makes my heart hurt that you had that experience. You’re ABSOLUTELY right that bloggers are not different than traditional media. It’s just that now we totally get why traditional media hates PR pros. I hated them yesterday. A lot.

  • ginidietrich

    @TheJackB @HLeichsenring I have this argument with thefranchiseking . Typically there isn’t budget to pay a blogger. As a PR pro, we can give product or services away, which should be compensation. We don’t pay journalists, either. It’s that whole church and state thing.

  • @ginidietrich There is a lot of room for education and improvement on both sides.

  • @ginidietrich @HLeichsenring thefranchiseking I understand that which is why I say “appropriate compensation.” It is intentionally vague because every situation is different.

    My time is valuable and my audience is valuable. If someone wants to work with me I want to do a good job but that doesn’t come for free. Unless it is some sort of charity thing and then it is different.

  • Neicolec

    @ginidietrich LOL. You are so wonderful, Gini! Thank you! Thanks for the advice.

  • @ginidietrich @TheJackB @HLeichsenring thefranchiseking There needs to be a budget, Gini. Bloggers may bring a better bang for the buck. Well, they do, you know. 🙂

  • @TheJackB @ginidietrich @HLeichsenring thefranchiseking Tru, Jack. The only reply I have via email to a pitch from a PR agency having to do with franchising is this; “If you’re interested in spreading your client’s message on a franchise industry blog with some serious reach, (Mine) I’d be happy to discuss some of my content marketing ideas with you.

    The Franchise King®, Joel Libava

  • KDillabough

    @ginidietrich The cornflakes and M & M ones? Oh my. Did I miss others?

  • HLeichsenring

    @FranchiseKing @TheJackB @ginidietrich thefranchiseking That’s a great discussion here. I feel, we are on the same page. But as I said: compensation is not neccessarily pament. But payment is certainly a compensation.

  • @HLeichsenring @FranchiseKing @ginidietrich thefranchiseking Absolutely. There needs to be an understanding of the value of the exchange of services.

  • @ginidietrich I’ve had this open for a couple of hours and keep coming back to it thinking about what to say. I completely agree with your manifesto. Those are excellent, basic rules of the road (yes, I saw your biking post too…). What’s haunting me a bit is that it just should not be necessary and yet I know it is.

    Common sense and courtesy are the keys to relationships. (Media Relations, Blogger Relations, Customer Relations, etc.) If you don’t care about the other side of a relationship they aren’t going care about you. If you don’t want the story told with another person’s objectivity – buy an ad (phew, didn’t swear there.) People who don’t understand those kind of basics should just get out of communications because they’re clueless. (And I want points for keeping that sentence free of curse words too.)

    Great job as always. Thanks!

  • Corianda

    Out of curiosity (and lack of experience): I often find the bloggers I’m building “relationships” with are, naturally, the one’s I’m personally interested in.

    If you have one client and are totally immersed in that circle/industry/topic, actively engaging with bloggers would be easier to handle than juggling multiple clients with multiple spheres, right? I’ve also heard stories of PR pros and journalists developing out-of-work friendships.

    What level of dedication and personal friendship is appropriate for the blogger/pr pro relationship? Any advice or anecdotes on the topic?

  • @ginidietrich Aunt Gini knows her stuff!

  • HowieSPM

    @TheJackB @ginidietrich Jack if you do dress in drag and go knock on their door can we come to watch?

  • HowieSPM

    @ginidietrich @johnfalchetto BWE? Big Wednesday Empire? Boring Whimpering Elvis? Bring Walter Eggnog?

  • Gini,

    It’s really good to see you in live, I mean talking with your voice, it shows you are real 😀

  • I think this was a great list Gini. Unfortunately I don’t have anything new to add. But one of the biggest ones that stands out to me is understanding the bloggers goals. This is actually a pretty big one because it takes some time, and often some relationship building to really get to that point

  • @HowieSPM @ginidietrich Sure. It will be epic. 😉

  • I want a longer video!

    Anyway, my information was forwarded along to a non-profit and right away the woman hit me up for a donation. I replied ” I already donated. I am interested in writing a blog post. Look at all the great posts I write about women’s issues”

    It has been several emails back and forth, but it looks like I will be writing a post for her cause. I will give more details once it is confirmed.

    My point to all of this, is that she could have checked her database, saw I already donated and asked me a different question. It works both ways. I don’t write to someone unprepared, so imagine my surprise when she hit me up right away for more money after I just donated, and just got the thank you email last night.

    I am going to go post a question on your wall. A good one.

  • ginidietrich

    @TheJackB @HowieSPM I’m definitely in for watching this too!

  • ginidietrich

    @NancyD68 GREAT point! Do your freaking homework, even if it’s not a PR/blogger relationship. Did you see some of the questions posted yesterday. Oy vey.

  • ginidietrich

    @Jk Allen It does and people complain about not having enough time. But I know I’d much rather do it right, no matter how long it takes me, and keep my reputation in tact than to mass pitch and then have bloggers talk about me and no one accepts a story from me.

  • ginidietrich

    @Corianda You know, when I started my career, it was in agriculture. Talk about not having an interest, whatsoever, in what I was doing. But I grew to love it because I developed relationships, heck friendships, with reporters at the trades. I built relationships with growers….the target audience for our clients. I grew relationships with the sales guys. And guess what? Because of all of those relationships, I was completely immersed in the business and I was (at the time) the fastest promoted professional in our office. If you develop those kinds of relationships, even outside of journalists and bloggers, you’ll have a lot of success.

  • ginidietrich

    @RickRice LOL!! Now I’m curious what swear word you would have used!

  • Love, love, loved seeing you on video. Do more video. VIDEO. The phrase of the day is GINI ON VIDEO. Wait, there’s another reason I’m here… oh yeah!Blogger outreach is my favorite thing to do, though I don’t get to do it often. First time I’m seeing a list for both sides of the fence. The key thing the list implies is – treat people with professionalism, respect and dignity. Works out for everyone involved if you do.

    It’s sad because I get so turned off by blind pitches that I hardly ever say yes to inbound outreach, and it’s always some offshoot of the reasons you’ve listed above. Some company wants to put its hand up my skirt and it’s not even the FIRST date yet, never minding whatever date I would do that. But when everyone sees one another as people… it all works out so much better.

  • ginidietrich

    @prdrln Doesn’t it makes you want to scream sometimes?!

  • JulesZunichPR

    You can take her word for it @elissapr: Best #PR pro & #blogger manifesto yet:

  • Leon

    G’Day Gini,

    I’m a slow learner, I just found all these beaut little videos on your blog. There was even one about some woman musing over the length of her hair. Imagine that!

    Now: to the important business.

    I think that you should have a contest to discover how you can ride your bike and blog at the same time. The prize could be something like a three tutorial program on “Hailing a cab on a busy New York street in peak hour on Friday while maintaining Exquisite Understated Elegance”….or

    ” Learn Scots Gaelic from The Consummate Celt, Danny Brown” …or

    The “How to photograph your children and get your eldest to leave glowing comments on your blog under 176 assumed names” seminar with Marcus Sheridan.

    Come to think of it, you could also have a contest to decide the prize. Please tell Lisa G not to worry. It’s merely senile decay setting in. It’s why I don’t charge to talk.


    Regards Leon

  • Lindsay_L_Lewis

    Lots of fantastic comments here to add to an informational and interesting post. As yet another who frequents across the PR – Blogger line to dabble on both sides, there is one thing you may have left out. While others have touched on it, both bloggers and PR people are very connected and influential. Treat both sides with respect – this means answering emails from both sides! In a timely manner. In both the journalist and public relations industries, a week is too long. And if you can’t compelte a request, have the courtesy to say so instead of leaving things hanging. As you said above, it’s a relationship! Cultivate it.

  • Uhmm, hiiii. !? @Neicolec @ginidietrich

  • You voyeurs are really disgusting. @ginidietrich @TheJackB @HowieSPM

  • Let’s not forget that reporters don’t return us any favors, either. Recall the New York Times debacle with the restaurateur. We pitched NYX and so did PRSA and to no avail. They expect us to (whine, whine) read their stuff, and then there’s no respect in return. And, I’m being broad brush here…I realize. @ginidietrich @HowieSPM

  • Neicolec

    @Soulati | PR @ginidietrich Oh, Jayme, dear. I was already planning on talking to you. Don’t think I forgot you.

  • I knew that; I really did! @Neicolec @ginidietrich

  • Neicolec

    @Soulati | PR @ginidietrich I already took your suggestion for the Chamber website release. Gave us a nice SEO boost!

  • ginidietrich

    @Neicolec @Soulati | PR YEAH!!

  • SelfishMom

    What a fantastic post! I will do my best to see that every blogger & pr pro I know reads it.

  • ginidietrich

    @SelfishMom Ah! I was JUST reading your comment!

  • ginidietrich

    @SelfishMom Thank you! It’s pretty important…we tend to forget there are other human beings on the other side of the computer screen.

  • ginidietrich

    @Lindsay_L_Lewis Lindsay! I’m so sorry I missed this when you commented. You’re right – it’s ALL about the relationship. If you can’t do something, a simple note that says so is appropriate.

  • ginidietrich

    @Tinu LOL!! I just saw this. Gini on video. HAHAH! Fine. Then I think you should take more photos because the one you posted on G+ yesterday is absolutely gorgeous!

  • ginidietrich

    @Leon Ah yes…I had six inches spontaneously cut from my hair and it was SHOCKING!

    I am DYING over this: The “How to photograph your children and get your eldest to leave glowing comments on your blog under 176 assumed names” seminar with Marcus Sheridan.

    HAHAHAHAHA! thesaleslion did you see that?!?

  • SelfishMom

    @ginidietrich I had brunch w/@elissapr yesterday & she had wonderful things to say about you.

  • ginidietrich

    @SelfishMom @elissapr Ah man! I’m jealous!

  • SelfishMom

    @ginidietrich This isn’t going to help your jealousy any: I sent @elissapr back to Toronto w/baked goods.

  • elissapr

    @SelfishMom @ginidietrich And I snuck those brownies out of the house to the office and now EVERYONE wants the recipe! #TrueStory

  • SelfishMom

    @elissapr Oh God. I have a big confessional post coming up. @JenniferPerillo knows what it’s going to say…

  • JenniferPerillo

    @SelfishMom I’m not saying a word to @elissapr about it. She’ll just have to wait and read the tell-all!

  • elissapr

    @JenniferPerillo @SelfishMom What? You two are blatantly keeping me in the dark?? Okay, when does the first train to Brooklyn leave?!

  • ginidietrich

    @SelfishMom @elissapr Oh come on!

  • Pingback: Are bloggers and journalists the same? | Justin Case You Were Wondering()

  • NancyM.

    Who said a PR officer’s life was easy. It is a delicate balance between achieving the corporate goals, and keeping the bloggers from feeling they are being told what to do or bossed around. I totally agree with the mass e.mail remark. NOBODY should send mass e.mails.