Blogging

A poignant entry by xkcd.com, “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

Facilitating a conversation about “blogging” is like trying to encompass all forms of journalism in the topic of “media.” Blogging is a spectrum, ranging from a teenager discussing their personal life to well-known national journalists posting breaking news items. Furthermore, blogging is integrating itself into the greater category of journalism – developing its own set of rules, etiquette and methods of dealing with PR professionals. Depending on the theme, audience, and personality of a blog, each should be approached using different tactics. However, one thing remains the same – RESPECT and TRANSPARENCY. The following is a guide to understanding blogging (at least to the extent of my knowledge).

Following and Participating in Blogs

Become familiar with blogs that are relevant to you. Read them and participate in comment “threads.” By commenting on blogs, you are engaging in a two way discussion with the author and other readers. Furthermore, you are letting the author know a little bit about yourself. This can help with networking in the interactive community or pitching them (they may know who you are before you send a pitch – giving you greater credibility). However, make sure your comments are honest reflections of your opinions, and never comment about a company you are representing. Whether for your own knowledge or in prepping to pitch a specific blog, reading them will give you greater insight into how the blogosphere and specific bloggers work. If you find a blog that you enjoy, set up a RSS feed.

Pitching Bloggers

DOs:

  • Read their blog, familiarize yourself with their attitudes, writing style and favorite topics.
  • Be TRANSPARENT – you are a PR professional, and hiding that is disrespectful and dangerous. If you have something to offer them that is newsworthy in their eyes, you won’t be brushed off.
  • Be less formal than normal “media” pitches, but still respectful and not overly casual.
  • CUSTOMIZE – Bloggers have a lot of competition and want unique story ideas. They also want to know you aren’t just sending them a message because they are on a blogging list.
  • Offer them visuals, videos and content that can be posted directly.
  • Send one follow-up if you don’t get a response. Bloggers get a lot of email, and if something is truly relevant and interesting, they might just need a reminder.
  • Be cautious – bloggers can and sometimes will post emails they receive.

DON’Ts

  • Don’t send out blanket pitches to bloggers you determine to be important (there are some exceptions when it comes to products).
  • Don’t customize with generic comments such as “I like your post from last week,” instead try “I appreciated your take on genetically engineered food last week.”
  • Don’t stalk a blogger, emailing them too regularly will get you blocked, unless it’s a two-way conversation.
  • Don’t rely on a press release. They’re not very helpful to bloggers.
  • Don’t tell them to post; they know what you’re after. Ask them what they think of the information you’re sending.

Starting a Blog

Whether it’s for a client or personal use, blogs can be endlessly useful. Successful company blogs can establish CEOs as opinion leaders and agenda setters. They can also backfire if thoughtful writing and planning aren’t incorporated early. Keep in mind, blogs don’t always make sense for a client. Think through your client’s goals and intended blog audience.

Tips:

  • Choose a topic. Unfocused blogs typically aren’t heavily read. Readers like consistency in content.
  • Read other blogs, bookmark them, network. If you find someone with a similar topic, try linking to them and see if they’ll reciprocate.
  • Incorporate images and videos where relevant.
  • Update regularly. If you want readership, you need to post fairly frequently.
  • Provide new and interesting information. Blogging about an event that happened last month isn’t going to intrigue your audience, unless it’s an extremely unique commentary.
  • Link to other sites and reference your sources where appropriate.
  • Don’t be afraid to editorialize. Blogs don’t need to be unbias, but they should present a well-founded argument or message.