One of my, let’s be frank, many bug bears, around the social mediasphere and PR is that people are often quick to point the finger and tell us exactly where we are going wrong, without actually providing any substantial thoughts about how to change it. The recent campaign by RealWire, ‘An inconvenient PR truth.’ did go some way to address this, giving a comprehensive Bill of Rights, which could really be summed up as guidelines on ‘how to be less shit at you job’. Looking at the activist list I can’t also help but feel that the campaign was preaching to the converted. That said, it’s a start. Perhaps the progression could be to get public buy-in from agency heads to stopping spam and upholding industry standards.
Usually though the PR call-outs take the form of naming and shaming, which helps relieve the frustration of the poor sod being spammed, but does little to address the root problem. Sending out vast amounts of inappropriate material is just one of the issues that PR industry has to tackle and Darika from Grapevine consulting has decided to address the various areas where PR is being perceived to fail. The first post of the series looks at campaign v brand strategy and states:
It’s not possible to build trusted relations and have brand conversations in the short-term. Three months, the traditional quarterly budget or common campaign cycle, is not long enough.
If PR does succeed then what happens after the campaign has gone? Who looks after the abandoned profile or answers requests from a new blogger ‘friend’ who has suddenly moved down the list of importance?
Which is a bloody good point. Journalists are happy to hear from a PR once in a blue moon as they usually cover a wide remit and have plenty of sources, as well as other PRs, to provide information.Niche bloggers might well not have the same range of places to get info and may well also feel a bit used and abused after the short campaign finishes. Which made me think that perhaps we shouldn’t look to engage bloggers at all on a proactive basis.
This is not to say that shouldn’t work with bloggers but perhaps instead of spending hours working out who is the most influential, deciding the best strategy for engagement, carefully drafting the pitch, waiting to see if you’ve cocked it up and will tale a starring role in their next post about incompetent PR agencies, we should take a different approach. Perhaps we should concentrate more on the mainstream media, for that is where most bloggers source their material from, and then on making lots of information and various assets available on line and easily findable. A more laissez-faire approach if you will. We should also make it easier for bloggers to know how to work with PR agencies, make it simpler for them to contact us directly for information. I think basically I’m advocating a hybrid approach between traditional media relations and a self-service canteen here, which would lead to bloggers being self-selecting about working with PRs rather than being bombarded with love and then dropped when the next campaign starts.
Update: The Peter Pan of PR, Jed Hallam, has posted a rebuttal to this post –Blogger Outreach: Why you should do it, I suggest you bimble off and take in his side of the argument too.