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.