Earlier this year I riffed on "How Long Should a Conversation Last?" in which I asked, "[How can] PR practitioners… possibly find the time & energy to create, monitor (and) nurture … the hundreds of relationships that might (or might not) aid their clients?" — This is worth further exploration for agency types.
The premise: Conversations require on-going cultivation; in the blogosphere, that entails at-least a bi-weekly check-in (a comment, an e-mail, etc., as appropriate) with the bloggers of-interest to each client. Contrast this to "traditional" reporters, who really only want to hear from PR pros when they have a good story idea.
- Challenge #1: If an account exec (let’s call her "Mary") has 3 accounts, she is tasked with tracking at least 25+ top reporters per client. Each of those 75 reporters only want to hear from Mary on an as-needed basis: this could be as little as once a month. But for those same 3 clients, Mary needs to have an on-going dialogue with their top 25 bloggers: each of these 75 relationships require on-going "love." That is a SCALABILITY challenge. It is also a FINANCIAL challenge: will clients be willing to pay for the exponential amount of work (including "listening") implied by a robust "blogger relations" effort?
- Challenge #2: Let’s say that Mary has a client for 2+ years. In that 2-year period, Mary could be promoted from Account Executive to Account Manager, i.e., she has more management responsibility, and fewer "outreach"-related duties. Can she afford to let those hard-won relationships with the client’s top blogger contacts lapse? Some of these bloggers get a little tetchy; they might not look kindly on any attempts to "transfer" Mary’s relationship amongst different agency representatives. That is a TRUST challenge.
- Challenge #3: Let’s say that Mary has developed a good rapport with a blogger in the telephony space. She loses her telephony client. Mary has thus lost the financial motivation to "continue the conversation" with the telephony blogger. Can she let it lapse, knowing that she might win a new telephony account in the next 12 – 18 months? If Mary decides she cannot let the relationship lapse, again you are faced with a SCALABILITY issue: how can Mary possibly maintain relationships with the outlandish number of bloggers who might impact her past, present and future clients?
The challenges listed above tend to be less troublesome in the traditional media relations arena: professional journalists (on deadline) tend to be more interested in good ideas for good ideas’ sake — from any reputable source. Journalists also tend to hop around, career-wise: today’s "networking" reporter might soon become the new guy on the "semiconductor" beat at a different publication, and this careerism makes it more acceptable on both sides to form "relationships of convenience" with PR pros.
By contrast, bloggers are typically impassioned and entrenched. They are subject-matter experts and they ain’t goin’ anywhere. PR pros who forget this distinction do so at their peril.
Which brings us back to Challenges #1 – 3.
Hat-tip to Mike Driehorst, who got me thinking about this all over again.
Posted on: October 25, 2006 at 2:45 pm By Todd Defren