When it comes to dealing with bloggers, maybe what companies need is a dose of naïve literalism—a reminder of the relations part of public relations and what it implies about how to deal with people. Briefly, remember that you're dealing with people and that your interactions with them will define a relationship, for better or worse. Let's look at how a relationship-based approach can foster better blogger relations.
First, what doesn't work. The National Pork Board showed us once again that leading with the lawyers is perhaps not the most effective method of dealing with bloggers, but it's a lesson that too many people only learn the hard way. The board has apologized, but the Lactivist post is now on the first page of their Google search results. Forgiveness doesn't prevent consequences.
A better approach
What works? The personal approach. Derek Karchner of Rosenberg Communications pitched Jim Durbin on behalf of a non-profit client in a good example of how to pitch a blogger. Here's what he did right:
- Derek read Jim's blog first. He wasn't blasting a message out to a list.
- He sent a personal note that told Jim why he thought the story would be useful to him, and he invited questions.
- He responded to Jim's questions by getting him in touch with the client, and then he followed up to make sure Jim got what he needed.
Derek had a nice story to pitch, not a complaint about trademark infringement, so his situation was easier—no temptation to let the lawyers handle things. Still, his success shows that the human approach is worth trying.
Walter Lim heard something very similar from John Kerr of Edelman: PR's new formula for success:
Develop better relationships -> humanizing your offeringNow there's an idea.