Blogger Relations: What is it About? [en]

[fr] Les relations blogueurs: qu'est-ce que c'est, et en quoi est-ce différent des relations presse/publiques? (Je pense qu'il va falloir faire un article là-dessus en français à l'occasion.)

I thought I’d write a post to quickly explain what I view as a particular field in social media: blogger relations. I prefer to view blogger relations as a speciality of community management rather than a speciality in PR, because it has much more to do with human relationships and communities (sometimes very small) than with managing a public image.

Blogger relations is what I call the work I’ve been doing for Web 2.0 Expo Europe, Le Web in Paris, and now Solar Impulse.

Companies and organizations are starting (well, they have been “starting” for the last five years, so some of you might get the feeling this start is dragging along) to realize that there is a population out there in social media that produces content, is very connected, and sometimes pretty influential. I single out bloggers and podcasters because despite all the excitement around Twitter and Facebook, publications in those mediums are too transient. Three weeks later, the tweets and status updates are long gone (Storify might yet change that, so I’ll be keeping a close eye on that service).

Though some online publications are very close in organisation and tone to traditional media, most bloggers and podcasters out there are better not treated as “press”. And they have value to bring that justifies treating them slightly differently from the general public.

Bloggers and podcasters are similar to press in the sense that they produce content. But they are also similar to the general public in the sense that they show interest for something by passion and often in their free time, and not based on the agenda of their employer.

As I see it, blogger relations imply a more “balanced” and “open” relationship between the parties, where it’s possible to lay things clearly on the table. Offer and demand are in my opinion more present in defining the power balance than when dealing with the press. Are bloggers desperate to attend your event or follow your project? You can be selective, and put conditions. Are bloggers and podcasters not yet aware of what you’re doing? You might want to bring slightly more to the table to make it worth the investment for them.

All this, of course, requires one to know what is and is not acceptable in the blogger world. Ask for a blog post, or to display a badge on one’s blog? Should be pretty much OK. Try to exercise editorial control? Not so good.

Maybe some of the above is valid with the press, too. But again, I’d like to stress a big difference between bloggers/podcasters and press: in general, the blogger or podcaster will be coming to you on his free time and of his own accord, whether the journalist will often be sent by his employer or client, on his work time. This changes things.

I like to define two types of situations in blogger relations: floodgates and outreach. The strategy for both of these is quite different: in one case you need to filter through a large number of incoming requests. In the other, you need to reach out to those you want to interest.

I’m planning to blog more on this topic (I’ve wanted to for a long time), but for now I just wanted to lay down some general thoughts.

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