Blog World Expo 2008: Bloggers and PR

Comments 4 by Rebecca Bollwitt

After banishing myself to the back of the room, since this is the only place I can plug in to power my MacBook, I’m all setup again for the “Bloggers and PR” session with Chris Brogan, Michael Clark, Jason Falls, and Brian Solis.

Update: It’s been announced that the Twitter hashtag for this session is #pr2 so you can follow along with quick updates. Also, Michael Clark cannot be found so we’ve got Lee Odden now as well.

The panel starts off the session with a ‘hand raising’ exercise, “how many PR/marketing professionals do we have in the room?” Brian is addressed about unlearning and relearning PR in this market right now. “The minute somebody tags a post and publishes your name, it changes the game.” Jason adds to that by saying if you’re marketing and PR you need to think through what you’re doing. “If you’re sending out a release to 400 people and bcc: / cc: them all, then you’re an idiot.” “Take a step back and think about the basics of communication: know you’re audience.”

“We need to get in Second Life because Toyota made a vending machine there,” – sometimes clients just hear buzz words and what others are doing and jump into the shallow end head first, notes Lee.

Jason says you can’t just say you’re going to start doing something on Twitter, “What is the problem with the audience, what do they want, how can we give that to them? Then the last thing we do is determine the tools. Don’t start with the tools, start with the people you’re trying to reach.”

“New media relations is changing the game,” says Brian, “Once you start to present the new math to people then they start to see there are new things to ask for that add real value.”

Lee, “a lot of people get distracted by ‘shiney new objects’ — you get those who think ‘let’s spend a ton of money on Second Life because the fact that we’re doing that will get us a ton of publicity’ — which isn’t the way to go.”

What advice do you want to give PR professionals first as they’re going to the PR bloggers first to help them shill their product?

“There are a lot of bloggers that don’t understand the business situation,” says Jason. “There’s a lot more opportunities right now to show people how you do business.”

“You need to promote the way you get a pitch because there are a lot of people who are doing it wrong,” says Chris. This reminds me of Darren’s topic at the Internet Marketing Conference, kudos to Capulet for always pitching me creatively.

“Get their interest before you pitch them,” says Jason. “It could even be a Twit-pitch like ‘I have something for you/something you might be interested in.” Other tips from Jason include, “You need to focus on the relationship, not the pitch,” and finally, “if you use the BCC field you’re an idiot DON’T do that.”

Brian says, “it’s now about the escalator pitch, the elevator is too quick – it’s a luxury.” Lee’s advice is “Actually read the blog.” These are the same points we tried to drive home at the “Blogger Relations” panel at Convergence. It’s really encouraging to see blog and PR professionals like these guys being on the same page as others I’ve seen speak (and spoken with). They also have so many new and effective ideas, I’m loving this panel. I’m also wondering when I’ll start to see more of this engagement (although the Molson event earlier this week has kept my faith high in this regard).

Chris says that when he looks out into the crowd he can name almost everyone he sees, he says that’s also part of it – be personal.

Brian, “In press releases, we don’t speak English anymore; blogs have no idea what the AP guidelines are all about.”

Jason, “Being human means taking off your marketing hat and thinking, how would you tell that story to a friend of yours?”

Questions from the audience, the person asking is a marketing professional. “I’m just going to say it out loud: A lot of bloggers don’t have enough traffic justify spending so much time on them.” She says it almost seems like a waste if only 100 people see it (at least in they eyes of the higher ups). Oh hey! It’s Michelle asking the question!

Jason says you need to think about it a different way ie. traffic. He says you need to look at bloggers in a different light, it’s not about page views and traffic, it’s about advertising on an influencer’s site. Maybe they don’t reach as many people (as traditional advertising) but they reach the exact people who are looking for that topic / product etc. specifically. How do we define influence?

“The thing I know about bloggers is that if you talk to them and they’re little bloggers, they grow – and they become bigger bloggers,” says Liz Strauss from the audience which received applause. “I want a relationship, not a one link stand.”

Jason, “Blogger outreach also applies to how we do our traditional media outreach.”

Chris, “If a blog is starting to become a platform, you can’t just call them a ‘blogger’ anymore.”

From the audience, “At Ford, our audience is people who drive.” They had an event and invited traditional journalists and autobloggers. However he thought, “We need to reach out the blogosphere and get regular people who like to drive,” those who are concerned about technology, green issues, quality, and safety. “We went for lifestyle rather than head-on products pitching.”

Jason says tell PR people what they did wrong. Respond and say, “here’s why you lost me.” Also, bloggers should be patient with PR folks, we’re in a time of transition and they’re learning (re-learning).

Tip: Chris says to all the companies in the audience, they should really go to the #pr2 Twitter feed and scrape that to remember the information in this session and for future reference.

Tip: Search “your company name here” followed by “sucks”, suggests Brian. Collectively take the readers of all the sites that are displaying ‘your company sucks’ you could have millions or people to address.

Tip: Chris, “The “R” in PR, relations – get heavy on that.” “Nowadays when we see Tiger woods standing next to a Cadillac I’m not going to go out and buy one because of that.” Give it to the real people, that’s who sells the product. “Do you know how many Flip cameras I sell? I come up on stage and talk about how cool they are then I get more questions after the session about where people can get a Flip.”

Last words – Read the blogs you are trying to address. Get to know each other (addressing the room) “we’re the #2 tag on Twitter right now”. If you’re shy stop being a loser just for a weekend!”

DreamBank sponsored my trip to BlogWorld this month. Sign up today to help create positive change by giving dreams, not stuff.

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4 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. Michelle EvansSaturday, September 20th, 2008 — 4:34pm PDT

    Yep, that’s how badly I thought that came across. I’m so painfully blunt with no word-smithing abilities. I’m sorry 🙁 I hope you don’t think I’m a complete ass. If you follow me at all you’ll see I really am supportive of bloggers. In fact, that’s pretty much the only way I get news anymore. You need to write it for me to read it *blush*. Anyway… I’ll remove my foot now and go 😉

  2. Miss604Saturday, September 20th, 2008 — 5:01pm PDT

    Valid question though, Michelle – don’t feel bad 🙂

  3. Kevin DuganSaturday, September 20th, 2008 — 7:03pm PDT

    “I want a relationship, not a one link stand.”

    Awesome quote. And re: 100 vs. 1M readers, if the 100 are the target audience you’re trying to reach and they’re engaged…that’s more valuable in the end.

    The more I hear that media relations is like blogger relations…something I typically say…I’m not so sure that’s the case.

    Blogs are started typically out of passion for a topic.
    Journalists are paid to cover a beat.

    And while the techiques are similar and just as abused regardless of who PR people are pitching, I think that is a starting point the influences everything you do when buiding a relationship with either group.

    Thanks for covering the event.

    Oh and I also think Michelle should not feel bad. She voiced something half or more of the audience was also thinking.

  4. Liz StraussMonday, September 22nd, 2008 — 6:12pm PDT

    I don’t think Michelle should feel bad either. Bloggers, including me (with a few more than a 100 readers) know we don’t have the circulation of a major magazine. Still we have the reach of our highly relational networks, some of extend quite far and go quite deep.

    I wasn’t speaking to Michelle. I was speaking to panel and really, to everyone the room, because I saw something we all seem to miss: that we think in term one pitch, one product, one interview when if we could make a few relationships we could forge a sytems that would work for all of us and grown all our businesses as we do.

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