Michelle Sullivan Communications

Your mother .. and my father .. were right: blogger relations revisited

At PodCamp Montreal last September, I was part of a panel called “Managing the PR Beast : Building Relationships with PR Practitioners While Maintaining Credibility with Your Audience”, along with Kim Vallee, Rayanne Langdon and Eden Spodek. I have to say, PodCamps and other unconferences are a great place to meet people who become valuable members of your personal and professional circles. One such person is Jennifer Blais of Black Eye Design, who, today, was kind enough to forward a great blog post that passes along many of the same helpful tips we tried to communicate that day to bloggers and PR professionals looking to work with one another.

Eric Karjaluoto is a prominent Vancouver-based design blogger. His blog post, How to keep bloggers from hating you, an open letter to PR practitioners written from the blogger’s point of view, should be basic reading for anyone thinking about venturing into the social media waters. Eric caps off his best practices blog post by reminding everyone that basic manners DO count when doing blogger outreach. Yes, the manners your mother taught you. Like please. And thank you. And remember when she told you to sit down and be quiet because you were being annoying? That one too.

The PR landscape is definitely changing and we all need to keep up. Having done blogger outreach for about three or four years now, I’m pretty sure I have the hang of it, but always take a moment to run a checklist before hitting ‘send’ on any email:

  • is this content likely to be of interest to this particular blogger?
  • do I know this blogger? Have I met him face to face at an event? Have I built a relationship up with him over time through blog comments? If not, have I at the very least taken the time to read through a minimum of a half-dozen blog posts, including the first, to be sure I’m not wasting his time?
  • is my email personalized? Does it show I’ve taken the time to understand his interests and objectives? Am I helping him deliver content that will be of interest to his readers?
  • is my email interesting, as well as short, efficient, and to the point? Does it respect the blogger’s time?
  • am I being clear that I am not ‘purchasing’ visibility? Will the blogger understand that he or she is treated with the same respect as a journalist who may also be reviewing the product for traditional media and will benefit from the same freedom of expression?
  • am I reaching out to him or her in the best way? Might Twitter be better than email?
  • is this a win-win situation for both my client and the blogger? And to the blogger’s readers?
  • is my campaign a credit to my own consultancy as well as to my industry?

The last point is an important one for me. It pains me every time I hear about bad practices in the PR industry. It’s easy for bloggers to paint all PR industry professionals with the same brush. We owe it to our industry and to our colleagues to strive towards implementing best practices. I’m constantly trying to improve, stay current and be sensitive in the way I enter into relationships with journalists and bloggers. If a journalist or blogger tells me once that they’d rather I contact them through Twitter, I take note and do everything I can to respect that request.

You may have noticed that respect is the common thread here. Respect a blogger’s time, interests, individuality, readership and requests. No one likes to be treated badly, without consideration, with impatience or like a number. Be respectful at all times.

Rules a mother would want her child to live by. Better yet, it’s nothing less than what my father — he who lived by the Golden Rule — would expect of me:

Do unto bloggers as you would have them do unto you.

Words to live by.

If you haven’t already, and you’re interested, you can listen to my PodCamp Montreal panel session here.

And for your reading pleasure, profiles of Eric and Black Eye Design, taken from their respective blogs/websites:


About Eric Karjaluoto:
My friend Eric Shelkie and I run an interactive agency called smashLAB, where we make neat things like MakeFive, shiftCMS, and Design Can Change. We’ve just launched a new service for those in advertising, marketing and design called undrln. I also have a personal site. But it’s personal, so don’t go there.

About Black Eye Design:
In business for well over a decade, Black Eye Design is an award-winning boutique design studio based in Montreal. Black Eye specializes in champion creative for book covers and interiors and other publications, and has developed a one-two punch database-into-layout system to streamline the workflow for event listings design. Step into the ring with our team, and you’ll find out why our credo reads « Knockout Creative. No Sweat ».

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