Home > blogging, PR and social media > Brogan’s Not Necessarily Wrong, BUT…

Brogan’s Not Necessarily Wrong, BUT…

January 10, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

As is often the case, I take exception to the general PR advice that is accepted as gospel — because it isn’t always appropriate for the high tech PR industry.

After reading Chris Brogan‘s How to Reach Out to Bloggers – and hearing other PR people discuss the post – I wanted to take a moment and provide some advice specific to high tech B2B PR – specifically the IT security industry. I call out IT security because it is fairly unique.

Now let me say first off that I realize Chris Brogan is smarter than me, he is much more well known and respected than me, hell, he is even better looking than me. My issue isn’t with Brogan – he does a great job – (this concludes the ass-kissing portion of this blog). My issue is with the PR folks (and clients) that accept his blog as the (only) authority on blogger outreach when in my opinion he overlooked the reality of high tech B2B blogger outreach.

Here are a few questions to ask before conducting blogger outreach.
Is that even a blog?: A blog in Network World or Dark Reading that is written by an editor is not a blog – it is for all intent and purposes a column written by someone that should be on the media list already. Some columns in leading IT trade publications are written by publication outsiders, BUT they are often executives at other companies or industry analysts.

Is that a blogger or industry analyst that happens to blog?: There is a difference. For a long time two of the only security bloggers that were worth most security companies pitching were former industry analysts, Mike Rothman and Rich Mogull. Rothman’s Security Incite blog was very influential, and Mogull’s Securosis was immediately considered an up and coming blog of note as soon as he left Gartner. But, both were operating as independent industry analysts so they were usually pitched as part of any industry analyst program. NOTE: Rothman and Mogull have recently merged operations.

Did I almost pitch a competitor?: In the IT security industry many of the most notable bloggers like Chris Hoff, Alan Schimmel (no longer with StillSecure) Martin McKeay, Michael Farnum, and Amrit Williams are associated with vendors. This doesn’t mean they are off limits to outreach, but it does require a different approach.

Here are a few tips for working with bloggers:
Enlist company (client) executives: While it is difficult to admit, PR folks are not always the best contact person. If pitching an executive at a non-competing company it can be best to have a similar level executive conduct the outreach.

Don’t pitch bloggers just for pitching sake: While clients hate to hear it, sometimes the best advise is to NOT pitch bloggers at all. This will differ from announcement to announcement, but PR folks need to know when NOT to pitch. Forget the outreach numbers and take a step back before pitching everyone on your blog list.

Invite blogger to guest blog: Sometimes pitching an influential blogger to ‘cover’ your client isn’t even the right goal. If the blogger is an influential industry luminary consider asking him / her to post a guest blog on your corporate site. This not only accomplishes the implied endorsement you are looking for, but it also all but guarantees that the blogger will cross promote the blog post that is now hosted on your client’s site.

And finally, know that their blog isn’t about you: As noted in The Future Buzz blog bloggers may not be interested in your pitch at all. Technorati’s 2009 state of the blogosphere revealed that 72% of bloggers are most interested in sharing their expertise and 71% blog in order to speak their minds. I’m guessing that the other other 30 (give or take) percent are not interested in helping PR people.

As Brogan points out it isn’t enough just to blanket all bloggers with a pitch and hope that some will write…just like it isn’t enough for PR folks to take good advice and assume it pertains to every industry.

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  1. Anonymous
    January 10, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    Yeah. So true. I don’t follow IT security, but the peeps I work with appreciate that I’m not constantly pitching them with everything. It increases the chance they’ll actually look at what I’m sending.

  2. January 11, 2010 at 4:59 am

    Tony,

    Appreciate you shedding additional light on this topic.

    The question of how to best approach and connect with bloggers has been a reoccuring theme for some time.

    A couple summers ago Scoble posted a rant on the topic which I responded to on my own blog.

    In short, my point was that bloggers are looking for information or an angle that’s not already in the public domain. This type of interaction requires a different mindset on the part of PR people as well as an understanding from the company/client that success can’t be measured by quantity.

  3. KLK
    January 17, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Interesting points. I recently inherited a media list that contained blogs from the client’s competitors. Bit of a bang-one’s-head-against-the-wall moment, as that list was supposed to be used for pre-pitching a product announcement.

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