I think that blog marketing is not about attempting to grab attention from others. Or at the very least, corporate blogging its not about interrupting others. There is a technique in public relations that enables companies to gain media attention. That process of drawing attention to your company is called media relations, and that’s a small aspect of public relations.
I’m in the process of writing a chapter about the content and communications strategy used by corporate bloggers, and for the chapter I ask the question, “What’s the best strategy for effective blogging?”
Blogging is definitely about reaching out to your audience, but I’d argue it’s best not to interrupt a blogger from their thoughts and what they are discussing on their blog. Asking a blogger to interview you for their blog, to review your product, or to link to your blog is interrupting the blogger. However, chatting with a blogging about their latest blog post, even critiquing the post, or asking them if they will commit to an interview on your blog is not.
In my discussions with corporate bloggers, I’ve found the people who are often the most effective bloggers in a company are the product builders or technical support people the experts who build the product, or the experts who can help a customer to get the best out of that product.
My thinking is that if a company is going to blog it needs to conduct effective blogging to be successful. And while blogger relations can mean that a blogger connects with another blogger with the same purposes a PR professional would do for media relations by asking another blogger to review their product by writing a story about them on their blog. I don’t think a blogger will be as effective in their blogging efforts, rather a blogger who asks for attention will waste time, and may create bad will or lose credibility.
Blogging as a cultural phenomenon is all about informal conversations, building relationships, and building goodwill through establishing credibility. Any expert gains credibility when they discuss all sides to an argument or consider every facet of a problem. If an expert is pitching a product, or interrupting another blogger to gain attention for their own ends, then the experts’s credibility is lessoned. Many marketers’ have documented the decline in the effectiveness of advertising over the last 40 years. Seth Godin even coined a phrase for the phenomena, that advertising is an interruption to customer’s life. Interruption should be the standard for any blogger, are you interrupting someone’s life, thoughts, conversation when you approach them? If you are interrupting another blogger you run the risk of losing credibility. And credibility is the currency corporate bloggers hope to achieve when they try to develop thought leadership and brand awareness in their industry.
I suppose the measurement for considering if you should interrupt a blogger is not the process of interruption but the relevancy of the story to the blogger, and that’s also been true when contacting journalists. Media relations tactics used in the same way for blogger relations can be very effective. But I question whether someone who wishes to establish himself as an authority should also practice interruption tactics such as blogger media relations.
To me it depends, as there will always be occasions when experts will develop new products or an idea and ask their community for feedback. Where the relevancy of such questions is high, not only will the expert get results but also their credibility will be enhanced. However, to practice systematic pitching, or interruption marketing I believe runs the danger of ruining a blogger expert’s reputation in their blogging community.
Blogger relations can be defined in two ways. One, similar to media relations – bloggers interrupt other bloggers to pitch a story, and two, a blogger joins in on an existing conversation. Both definitions of blogger relations can and will have results but also may produce unintended consequences. The first technique is an interruption to focus of the intended bloggers, and a blogger who uses such a technique risks losing credibility if the recipient believes the pitch was not relevant to them. Therefore every company should carefully consider this approach and use of blogger relations. While the second technique has less chance of being noticed, does give a blogger more opportunity to enhance their reputation by writing a good comment.
If a company must use both techniques of blogger relations, I suggest splitting up the responsibilities between your blogger and your public relations professional. If there’s doubt to the relevancy of a blogger relations pitch let the PR professional handle the pitch. Hopefully this will let the expert blogger maintain their credibility, in fact this happens now in media relations, company experts have their PR professionals ask for the interviews or pitch a product. It’s also a better use of an expert’s time to concentrate on conversations that are currently being held on other blogs.
It’s my belief from observation and conversation with corporate bloggers that they are better off not interrupting their fellow bloggers. Yet the interruption process is the part of blogger relations that borrows the most from the technique of media relations. And while I think the process can work, and has even been shown to work extremely well by bloggers; I've written and discussed such campaigns with Andy Abramson in "Blogger Relations Is Not Media Relations For Bloggers," and Shel Holtz in "Click.TV Pitch Program Is Public Relations Not Blogger Relations". To me this media relations technique when used in the context of blogger relations is not an effective technique for all bloggers to use. I think public relations professionals, or for that matter bloggers in general are not effective bloggers when they conduct blogger relations outreach in the same way PR professionals practice media relations with journalists. I think conducting outreach in this way is an effective public relations technique. But if your goal is effective blogging through word of mouth marketing pitching a story is not word of mouth marketing its public relations because you conducted outreach to get attention for your story, idea or product. And while there’s nothing wrong with this technique in helping a company to achieve its marketing goals if you want to be an effective blogger the strategy to follow is one of conversation as it happens.