Charles Arthur: Die, PR, die, or raise your game and learn about asynchronicity

I nearly missed Charles Arthur’s post yesterday cataloging yet more shameful practices in the PR industry. It’s depressing that after nearly 20 years in the PR industry I still have to read about such shocking levels of incompetence.

I was running an online PR course today and one of the areas we covered was blogger relations – a hideous phrase, but I suppose you’ve got to use some sort of shorthand.

I always struggle with what to say as for me personally doing ‘blogger relations’ isn’t that different to the way you should do media relations. The first step is to learn about the person you want to talk to. In the olden days that meant sitting down with a stack of newspapers and magazines and reading them to find out what sort of things are covered and by who. Search engines and online media can take some of the hassle out of it, but seeing how a magazine or paper actually looks and feels can still give you insights in how to pitch.

So please PR people don’t just rely on your media databases (try looking up Charles Arthur in Vocus and it doesn’t tell you half of what you need to know, and what it does tell you is pretty inaccurate).

Once you’ve done your due diligence it’s then simply a case of working out if you’ve got anything to say that might possibly be genuinely of interest to the journalist/blogger. If you haven’t then don’t say it or pitch it. Don’t be afraid to stand up to your client and/or boss and tell them you don’t think it’s right for that outlet.

Your client/boss is paying for expert counsel, not for a glorified direct mail or telesales operation.


About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.
  • JaxNYC

    It seems that chapter in PR 101 was torn out of college textbooks here as well. It is mind-numbing how many people — both newbies and not-so-newbies — must be retrained when they start at our agency to appreciate that five dead-on target media calls outweigh 100 mindless "smile and dial" ones every time. There's more than one way to measure productivity, ya know, and quantity isn't always the ruler by which we go by!

    Technological innovation has transformed our industry in innumerable ways, but clearly not all for the better. Whereas once you had to invest the brain power and elbow grease to compile a compelling list of appropriate media targets, today's generation merely needs to log on, enter search parameters and voila! – instant contact list. No fuss, no muss — and more often than not, no good either.

    As an aside… Bloggers and cameras are on PR people's lips here as well. Strumpette.com (a snarky, no-sacred-cows site devoted to the PR industry) nails the "blogola" practices of one of our tier-two PR firms in some recent posts. In a nutshell: "Here, Mr./Ms. Blogger, have this fabulous Nikon camera for a year at our expense. But hey, no pressure. It's not like we expect you to write positive things about it or anything…"

  • http://gischeleman.com Doug Haslam

    My thoughts on blogger relations being very similar to any media relations have run the same as yours. If we are not applying the same thought to pitches to newspapers and magazines, we are not doing our jobs anyway.

    The story in your link is no different than a million PR horror stories at any old-line publication. Welcome to the big-time bloggers– you will be subjected to bad PR just as much as the rest of te media

  • http://www.greenbanana.wordpress.com Heather Yaxley

    Stuart – one tiny piece of advice for blogger and media relations is to learn about the person you wish to talk WITH rather than TO.

    Thinking in terms of a dialogue helps reinforce the value of relationships (even if this is currently a one-off story) not identifying targets, and that you must seek to listen and learn not just convey information.