I took part in an interesting session at SXSW today, a group discussion designed to come up with 10 Easy Ways To Piss Off A Blogger. Led by Rohit Bhargava from Ogilvy, the group was made up of a combination of bloggers, marketeers and PR professionals. As someone who has recently started a blog (and has an increasing addiction to it), but who makes a living from PR and marketing, it was really interesting to find myself sitting somewhere in the middle.
The list of ten (and a few more) came out of the discussion, and is posted at Longstation, but the really interesting angle for me was a debate regarding the status of bloggers, and how they should be approached by those of us in the PR world. Specifically, there was some discussion around whether bloggers should be treated as journalists, and whether or not they wanted to be.
It was clear, and not surprising to hear, that bloggers get annoyed when they receive a constant barrage of untargeted PR material. There was some concern about bloggers finding themselves on a number of media databases used by the PR industry, and being increasingly bombarded with generic press releases that are of no interest to them. That’s how we all feel when our inbox gets full of spam.
As any hard-working PR exec will know, this lazy approach will not win any favours with journalists either, but then as a profession we’ve historically had a lot longer to understand how individual media work and the time to build fruitful contacts. The sudden growth of blogging, and a desire to interact with this powerful communication channel, combined with a lack of understanding about how bloggers work is obviously creating real issues for both sides.
The other side of the argument here is when bloggers want to be treated like journalists, but are often not given the same status. An example was given of bloggers being invited to events, but then not receiving press passes and the traditional perks that go with them.
It was all beginning to sound very ‘them and us’. Surely the beauty of blogging is that anyone can set themselves up to get their thoughts and opinions out there. Naturally, the more gifted will build a stonger reputation, a larger following and therefore greater value in the eyes of those of us looking to convince them to give us the odd plug here and there. But as more of us start blogging, the line between ‘them and us’ is going to blur.
The best piece of advice I’ve been given on this subject is from Pete Ashton, who reminds those of us in the business of promotion that the best way to spread the word is to start blogging ourselves. If the content we produce is of real interest and value, it will get picked up. By blogging, we’ll also understand a whole lot more about the process and hopefully how to stop pissing people off!