Doug Haslam

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BlogWorld Expo: Digital Symbiosis: How Bloggers Can Benefit from PR and Vice-Versa

Originally posted at the Slice Blog from SHIFT Communications

I had the good fortune of attending BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas this past weekend, and the honor of taking over a “Lightning Round” session for SHIFT’s principal, Todd Defren, who was unable to attend.

The session was titled “Digital Symbiosis: How Bloggers Can Benefit from PR and Vice-Versa.” I hoped to learn as much as or more than the audience, as there is no way I can presume to be inside the heads of more successful bloggers, and there were some really bright PR practitioners in attendance.

Jen and Doug during our live podcast

The author practices blogger relations with ZDNet's Jennifer Leggio. Photo by Aaron Strout (a SHIFT client)

I was not disappointed, as early in the session, as I tried to explain that PR agencies should not be selling on their relationships alone, and opened the idea of whether relationships work well as temporary ones based on the story at hand, or as ongoing, well-tended back-and-forths. A blogger in the audience made it very clear that his preference is not to hear from PR people only when they have news to pitch, but constantly, as a relationship.

The tug of war for PR people occurs in scale; how is it possible to have close relationships with the hundreds of bloggers an agency person may be asked to pitch across a number of clients? That question was echoed by, among others, my good friend Alexa Scordato (who now works for Porter Novelli). Part of the answer is: bloggers don’t care, nor should they. A blogger will only care about the one relationship, not the many others the PR person may be trying to maintain.

This thinking dovetailed nicely with a thought from Altimeter Group’s Jeremiah Owyang in a previous session that day, when he said a company’s customers don’t care if they are speaking online with someone from product, marketing, or another department. To them, it’s customer service and they want their problem solved. That turns the customer relations process on its head, and so it goes for blogger relations as well.

In preparing for the session, I made many notes, even lists of possible benefits for both sides in the PR-blogger relationship. Rather than using the notes, I was happy to boil things down as the conversation went: PR should focus on story telling rather than “selling” their idea, and bloggers should see PR as a resource from which they should squeeze every bit of information and connection they can. Is that too simple? Perhaps not.

A final note: I just want to thank Chris Brogan and Chris Pirillo, who encouraged me not to use my slides when I mentioned I wasn’t sure I should. I took that as gospel from two people who should know, and it worked.

Final final note: I had the chance to talk with ZDNet blogger Jennifer Leggio (“Mediaphyter”) about the session on the “Quick-n-Dirty” podcast she co-hosts with SHIFT client Aaron Strout. You can link through to the podcast (which covers a bunch of other related topics as well) from here.

The SHIFT Cabana at the hilton pool @ Blogworld

Yes, We Had a Cabana

7 Responses to BlogWorld Expo: Digital Symbiosis: How Bloggers Can Benefit from PR and Vice-Versa

  1. Twitter Comment


    RT @DougH: From BlogWorld Expo: Digital Symbiosis: How Bloggers Can Benefit from PR and Vice-Versa [link to post] #bwe09

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  2. Doug, as a PR professional attending BlogWorld I wanted to attend your session, but it conflicted with another of interest. Thanks for posting the topline points. I’m glad that you stressed the importance of relationships-as Chris Brogan said in his keynote, social media is about being social – loving your community – and with that being said, as PR pros we get the great fortune of meeting bloggers with incredible talents.

    Sorry I didn’t get a chance to meet you – I promise to next year.

  3. Twitter Comment


    @DougH Thanks for using that picture. I look pissed! lol #bwe09

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  4. Twitter Comment


    @mediaphyter Hey, that’s Aaron’s picture- and you;re not the first photo of me w/ wsomeone who looks like they don;t want to be near me.

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  5. John Cass says:

    What did you do to Jennifer? She does look really mad at you.

    Good post.

    Doug, I’m wondering if you think there is a second definition of blogger relations, that where the company does not pitch but conducts a dialogue?

  6. Danny Brown says:

    Can it be reversed as well, Doug? We tend to talk a lot about how PR should approach bloggers; but how about how bloggers should approach PR?

    Why don’t bloggers be proactive at finding PR agencies and approach them, advising that they’d be happy to build a relationship on an “as needed” (by both sides) basis? That way, he blogger can periodically check in to see if you have any news for a quite blog day, and you know you have a warm touchpoint for upcoming pitches?

  7. Doug Haslam says:

    John,

    The blogger in the session (his name was Douglas, but I am blanking on the name of his blog– terrible of me) said something similar to what you wrote. He did not want PR people to call him only when they had a pitch, but to have a more constant relationship. That was interesting to hear- and I was hoping I would hear it from a non-flack blogger.

    Danny– my closing advice for bloggers was– we’re here, use us, make us your resource, bleed us dry.

    What’s funny is this all goes back to sounding like what we should be doing for “mainstream” media pitches, whatever those are.

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