Last Sunday I was flipping channels and came across the Frank Capra film Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. You remember .. the flick about this naive senator, played by Jimmy Stewart, who stands up for truth, justice and the American dream.
It wasn’t the political aspects that drew me in to watch this film on a beautiful spring afternoon. It was the part of how in 1939 Mr. Smith was at the mercy of the media to tell his side of the story. Big money owned the presses and stopped the Junior Senator from getting his message to his constituents. I wanted to cry out .. blog .. podcast .. Twitter!
Flash into 2007 and the media and big bucks don’t control the flow of information. There are millions of people who talk to millions of people every day. And millions of people who are listening to those conversations. They are called Bloggers. People who write about what makes them laugh and sometimes what makes them cry. People who write about what is important to them. Links build pathways for extended conversations. Along the way they connect with others who feel the same way and create friendships which often morph ito larger communities.
Now a funny thing happened. The very people, who like our friend Mr. Smith, tried so hard to get noticed by the media suddenly found themselves in a position where they influenced opinion. PR, advertising and brand marketers began to knock at their virtual doors. Here was a new channel where promotional messages could be passed along to a target audience. Rather like little online newspapers. Or so it seemed.
Well, not quite. Bloggers are not The Press. They are not Journalists. They are just .. well, people. But the pr, advertising and brand professionals seemed not to notice. They send silly press releases or emails that pretend to “know” the bloggers. They send messages that are often too jolly, often too crafted and often too slick. They play by the rules of old media relations not of new social media communication. Here’s an example of a pitch I received this week.
The Agency’s Pitch: Hopefully you’re not just learning about the social network Facebook.com from That Girl. But the truth is, today’s media landscape is shifting too fast for even many bloggers to keep up with on their own.
Toby’s Response To The Agency: BTW .. I’ve been working in the social media space since 2004 … gosh darn I think that was before [agency] entered the space. So nope .. guess I’ve been learning about social media from more than from just Facebook; although Facebook is nothing to sneeze about.
So what does a blogger do when she’s frustrated with yet one more lame pitch? She reaches out to her friends who have been down this road more times than she .. like BL Ochman and Jeneane Sessum and Yvonne Divita. Remember she’s part of a community so she just might share her views with more than a few friends. She might share her views with her readers and Google searchers as well. Although the pr, advertising and brand marketers were hoping for some buzz, this might not be what they had in mind. For the pr, advertising and brand marketers who are new to social media .. this one is for you!
12 Blogger Relations Secrets For PR, Advertising and Brand Marketers
1. Read my blog – more than one post would be nice
2. Read the About page
3. Targeted is better than slick. Relevant is key. I may write for “me” but I also write for the awesome people who take time from their day to read my blog. Want to know the secret to that? See #1.
4. Tell who you are and who you are working with/for; a signature line would be helpful.
5. Respond to email requests for additional information
6. Provide live links
7. Offer access to interviews and additional information
8. Ask if I want to receive future emails from you/your organization – and take me off your email list if I do not want to play with you.
9. Join me in the conversations. Drop a comment on a post. Send me an email note about a post I wrote.
10. Remember what your Mama taught you. A follow-up thank you for mentions would really be over the top.
11. Be a bit bloggy .. people like to do business with people they like. Let’s face it… I’m helping you do your job. By providing relevant information you may be helping me with content ideas but your competitors are knocking on my door too and I only write so many posts.
12. Vino, chocolate, trips to Paris are good. Max likes treats too .. only kidding! Don’t know who Max is .. guess you haven’t read my blog. See #1.
Bonus: In the world of social media relationships are the new currency.