PR-Squared's Social Media Tactics Series: Blogger Relations

Blogger Relations Bookmark from SHIFT CommunicationsThe “PR people suckmeme of this week – which whacked several PR firms (ours included, dammit) - got me thinking.

I’ve said before that “sunlight is the best disinfectant” … The public outing of bad PR practices that seems to occur with increasing frequency will, eventually, cow the best among us into doing an ever-better job.

I say “the best among us” because the good agencies do care about doing a good job.  The bad agencies don’t care and won’t change.  They will continue, as all spammers do, to play the odds via lots & lots of bad pitches.  (“Dear Site Owner…”  Ugh!!)  

However, despite the good agencies’ best intentions and whole-hearted, in-depth training efforts, mistakes will continue to happen. 

The field is filled with young, eager, aggressive people who move too fast sometimes.  They can be trained for weeks on end, but they’ll still make mistakes.  As all parents know, sometimes the only way a kid learns is by falling flat on their face.  It’s too bad that these mistakes increasingly lead to public humiliation and mortally-wounded career prospects.

But, we can guide our industry.  Just as it’s easy to skim a list of bad PR pitches from any reporter’s email log and append them to an angry blog post, it’s now also easier than ever for PR pros to share best practices.  Rather than bemoan our fate, our industry is becoming increasingly proactive (p.s., each link in this paragraph is well worth your time).

If you’re like me, though, you can read (and even bookmark) some good advice you see online, but when you’re rushing to finish an assignment, it’s tough to take the time to dig up those helpful tips online.

So here’s one small contribution (pdf):  it’s a list of “Blogger Relations” tips, published in a handy bookmark size intended for hardcopy printing. 

Print it; grab a pair of scissors; cut along the dotted lines and voila – you’ve got a handy-dandy bookmark on Blogger Relations.  Post it to a cube wall, laminate it into an actual bookmark, etc.  In fact, here at SHIFT we’re going to post them at every workstation, to supplement the lessons that our staffers learn in their on-going training sessions.

As per usual, it’s free, no copyright restrictions, etc.  Slice off our logo, or superimpose your own on top of ours.  Don’t care.  If the distribution of our Blogger Relations Bookmark results in just one young PR pro not humiliating themselves, that’s all the payment we’d need.  Hope you find it useful.

Note: these are just quick tips… you can’t fit a training manual on a bookmark!  Still, following these simple guidelines could ward off the most egregious Blogger Relations errors.

Posted on: November 1, 2007 at 9:58 am By Todd Defren
9 Responses to “PR-Squared's Social Media Tactics Series: Blogger Relations”


  • Ted Shelton says:

    Thanks for this wonderful post — it is something we talk about all the time here at The Conversation Group and I am happy to say that our whole team now has your tips (with the Shift logo intact :-) ) on their desks.

    But this isn’t enough. Even cautious and respectful practices are not going to stop some people from seeing red when they get an unsolicited email from someone about a company, product, or service.

    Personally I am really struggling with this. Our experience (over many programs) has been that 20-25% of the people actually respond positively (pretty impressive response rate for email). But 2-3% of the people respond negatively — and the majority (over 70%) we don’t hear from. So we don’t know if they are negative, indifferent, or if our emails were lost in the spam filters (or intentionally caught by the spam filters…)

    I’d love to hear more thoughts from people on this emerging practice of contacting bloggers — success stories, failures, ideas for how to serve bloggers as much as we serve companies…

  • Todd Defren says:

    Thank you, all, for the kind words. I’ll be sure to check out the links you’ve shared.

    We WILL get better at this stuff. The commitment is there. I haven’t met anyone yet who *wants* to screw up, after all.

  • You just keep giving and giving, Mr. Defren. Nice format. Keeping it simple means people might actually USE it!

  • Todd, after learning about Chris Anderson’s spammers post, I rushed to read about it. I can see the logic as to why the list was posted….PURE FRUSTRATION!

    As a PR college student getting ready to take the leap into the chaos of this field, I realize I have so many things left to learn. And only first-hand experience is going to teach these lessons to me. You mention how even the “good agencies” make mistakes, but that these are the people who will learn from them and change their practices. I’m sure once I get out there in the thick of things, being young, eager and aggressive may get the best of me once or twice. I now know to take a step back and realize mistakes happen. And as added incentive to do so, I know that my e-mail address may be blacklisted if I don’t learn and quickly!

    I applaud you for taking the situation with a grain of sand and making the best of it. The best practices bookmark provides basics that any PR professional needs to know. Let’s just say I’ll have it laminated and in my portfolio at all times.

  • Kami Huyse says:

    I get spammed all the time. But this gives me an idea. From now on I am gong to answer the offenders I think are redeemable and append this bookmark.

    As usual, you deliver useful stuff when the rest of us just moan about it.


  • Csalomonlee says:

    Thanks for the bookmark Todd. I plan to add it to my growing list of how to pitch bloggers page at

  • Mike Doyle says:

    I worked on a similar set of blogger relations tips based on national blogger outreach work I’ve been doing that was adopted by Chicago’s Community Media Workshop this year (they’re the midwest’s grassroots media training shop, similar to San Francisco’s Spin Project).

    You hit the nail on the head: be part of the community, read the blogger’s blog, don’t bullshit–bloggers (full disclosure, I’m one myself, a local blogger in Chicago) can smell baloney, not to mention an impersonal, e-blasted “news release”, from a mile away.

    The worst for me, email calling me “Mr.” Doyle. Those releases go straight into the trash. If you don’t know the blogosphere runs on a first-name basis, you really haven’t done your homework.

    I love the Social Media Press Release template, myself. It jibes with my biggest suggestion to those I work with: for God’s sake, have an Internet presence (i.e. be a blogger) yourself. If I can’t link to you and you’re not writing regularly updated web content about whatever it is you’re pitching me, there’s just no relevance–my readers will have nowhere to go for more information.

    Nice work with the bookmark! (If you’re interested, CMW has the best practices I worked up on their site, freely available to do with as you please or not, at )

  • Hey Todd,

    PR people don’t suck. Spam sucks.

    You don’t suck for example. You helped me to make my work better. And you introduced me to your clients who I have written about. Thank you.

    However, PR people who practice the art of spamming most definitely do suck.

    A few minutes ago I got yet another spam email from a PR person. I replied with a link to my most recent post.

    That got the PR person’s attention and I got an email apology back immediately.

    Cheers, David

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