Putting the relationship in blogger relations


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:

  1. Derek read Jim's blog first. He wasn't blasting a message out to a list.

  2. He sent a personal note that told Jim why he thought the story would be useful to him, and he invited questions.

  3. 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.
The result? A post for his client, and another post on Jim's appreciation of Derek's approach.

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 offering
Now there's an idea.



Thanks for the link. As we march onwards from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and beyond, what stands out very clearly is the need to go back to the fundamentals. And that is cultivating relationships with your stakeholders and your channel partners, regardless of whether they belong to the mainstream or social media.

Sincerity, honesty and a simple "Sorry I screwed up on that one and made a mistake." sometimes work much better than endless cover ups. Its what I would term a "Return to Innocence", which is also the title of that Enigma chant!

You can fool some of the people some of the time but you certainly can't fool the blogosphere all of the time!

Thanks for the mention Nathan.

I agree wholeheartedly that we're in a period which is in essence a return to essentials - that PR is fundamentally about relationship. "Humanizing your offering" as Walter recounts in the linked post is a great way to put it and would make a good mantra for PR pros grappling to adjust the changing communications landscape.

What blog readers aren't seeing is the back channel communication around this post—email exchanges with Walter and Derek that demonstrate the value of the personal connection. Thanks, guys.

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About Nathan Gilliatt

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  • Voracious learner and explorer. Analyst tracking technologies and markets in intelligence, analytics and social media. Advisor to buyers, sellers and investors. Writing my next book.
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