London Bloggers Meetup: PRs v. Bloggers

The London Bloggers Meetup took place on Wednesday, the PR edition aimed to address concerns and questions about the relationship between bloggers and PRs with a debate featuring representatives of both sides.

UPDATE: In my excitement I forgot to add Edelman sponsored the event :)

Alas, the PR vs. Blogger discussion did not turn out to be the ‘rumble in the jungle’ some had touted it as and was a rather serene affair. Indeed the six strong panel had six bloggers, three of whom are indeed PRs: Stephen Waddington, Cate Sevilla, Chris Osburn, Pete Stean, Lolly and myself (I tried to play devil’s advocate, some things were indeed tongue-in cheek…).

Here’s the points we were looking to address, and my thoughts…

All bloggers welcome pitches from PRs

I disagree – just because a blogger shares their email, doesn’t mean they are inviting pitches. It may well be an invitation for comments and questions that a reader may not necessarily want to publish as a comment. The PR should research the blog and blogger to recognise if they are happy to be pitched, and if it is still not totally clear, an email asking the question could be sent.

PR shouldn’t treat bloggers like journalists

PRs should treat bloggers like people. A blogger may write about a range of topics as they have different passions and enthusiasms, it’s up to the PR to recognise this. A clear way of creating a definition is that, by and large, most bloggers do not get paid to write about their interests. Journalists however earn a salary and are required to fill column inches. A totally different mechanic applies.

Bloggers don’t understand what a PR agency needs

Some bloggers do understand, others don’t and it is not up to them to acknowledge this either way. The PR should make clear from the outset of any correspondence what they require, as this will of course vary on an email by email basis, allowing the blogger to opt-in or out.

PR agencies don’t understand what bloggers need and want

Again, I think this varies, and often from PR to PR rather than by agency. There are some very good PRs who ‘get it’, but there are also many PRs that don’t. it is up to those who do understand digital culture to help those who don’t, learn the behavioural mechanics of the Internet and digital communications or in the very least, be aware of the benefits of using digital as part of a wider communications strategy.

Bloggers and PR agencies would both benefit from industry standard rules of engagement

This is a moot point. The pace at which any regulatory body could organise any such guidelines would be much slower in comparison to the velocity at which the Internet and digital comms moves. It simply would not keep up.

I’d be interested to know your opinions on the above point and what other factors you think are at play.

12 thoughts on “London Bloggers Meetup: PRs v. Bloggers

  1. It was a generally interesting debate and had a few points of action for me to consider for my blog.

    I did feel the attitude that if your email address is on a blog then you are inviting press pitches was a tad arrogant, but it was interesting to suggest that the “about me” page could be used to clarify that for those PR people who actually read it.

    I know from my day job that most PR people just buy databases and don’t ever read the website they are contacting though – so I will be generous in presuming social media PR is more diligent, until proven wrong.

    If nothing else, a really badly written press release gives me an opportunity to rip it to pieces on my blog. So that is a win for me, if not the PR firm!

  2. The ’email on the blog’ issue is actually a really interesting point, perhaps it deserves more scrutiny than it currently gets?

    I write because i want to rationalise something, if that provokes a reaction that’s great and I’d like to hear about it no matter how, be it a comment (thanks for commenting!) or an email. So, I publish an email address so I can be contacted by readers. I don’t necessarily want PRs to use that email.

    Perhaps we should consider having a dedicated ‘PR Pitch’ email address, as opposed to general comments?

  3. “PRs should treat bloggers like people.” Amen to that. But maybe bloggers should treat PRs like people too. We’re not always very good at that.

  4. Sorry I didn’t make it, sounds like a good debate.

    The email on the blog point is interesting, I tell account handlers that it is an indication that the blogger might be open to being pitched. However the first contact should always be to ask if they do want to be pitched and are interested in the specific client, if not then leave them alone.

    Obviously as Ian says it is possible that they don’t even visit the blog in question, but that’s a whole other state of affairs to deal with.

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  6. On the email issue, if the address is there in plain site I take that as being an invitation to anyone to write to the author. In my case, I’ve stopped replying to pitches where they clearly haven’t bothered to research what I talk about, and now simply consider them to be ‘spam’ and act accordingly. No harm, no foul – it’s a series of tubes, after all…

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