Jun 22 2007
As an Australian blogger, how often are you getting “pitched” to by web startups or PR firms? How receptive are you?
I’ve noticed the number of pitches are increasing for me. Some I write about, others I don’t. The pitches can be anything from a really awkward attempt (filled with broken links, shocking grammar and punctuation - but I won’t embarrass the author) to a really slick professional approach (don’t have to do much work, here’s all the details including photos, screen shots and logos).
Zest Digital wrote about a blogger relations campaign last month and pointed to an excellent post on Sensual Gourmet called blogger relations 101, a must read for anyone considering pitching to a blogger. This includes tips such as approaching bloggers similarly to journalists, personalising the approach, watching your tone, not to spam, watching spelling and grammar…
I see this as a trend that is only going to increase in Australia, as larger corporations attempt to embrace the “social” aspect of the web, and tap into the Aussosphere as a PR channel.
Yesterday Laurel wrote about ROI on Engaging Bloggers. Toyota in Greece got 15 bloggers to test drive their new Auris and report their findings. The results were extremely interesting. The point Laurel makes at the end is very important
Actually, I guess one area of concern is that traditional media know what side of their bread has got the organic butter on: bloggers only allegiance is to their passion and their conscience. So if your car (product/service) sucks, a magazine might be ‘even handed’ in their review. After all, you also pay for advertising, and they want to be invited to press events again. Bloggers will simply say it sucks and lists the reasons why. And that is the crux of the matter - why people trust social media and complete strangers to ‘expert testimony’ and ‘trained journalism’.
“Bloggers only allegiance is to their passion and their conscience”. I like that phrase.
But I wonder if that will change with commercialisation of blogging, such as the introduction of “pay per post” type reviews, sponsorship and the controversy of the Microsoft Ferrari saga last year. My feeling is that, for the most part, a blogger’s reputation is of paramount importance - both to the blogger and the reader of the blog. This reputation is built on credibility, integrity, transparency and impartiality.
Being self-employed (or self-unemployed!), allows us the freedom of choice to write about whatever we damn well feel like. This is what differentiates us from those paid to write, we don’t have to worry about biting the hand that feeds us.
But as blogging increases in exposure, in viability as a revenue source, and becomes more attractive as a PR avenue, what will happen to this credibility? Could your opinion be bought?
Update: Ross Dawson examines this issue in The Increasingly Tight Limits of Propriety for Bloggers. He writes
The bloggers in this campaign have not done anything that would affect how any reasonable person would perceive their integrity. They have not endorsed anyone. They’ve shared their thoughts on a topic. The fact that some of these bloggers have now shied away or even apologized shows that their sensitivity to potential perceptions is extreme. The degree of propriety expected of bloggers now goes far beyond that expected for mainstream media. That there is transparency and debate on the limits of propriety is good. However it is crazy to say that sharing opinions and ideas is wrong, when these could apply to any company, any product, and any service, and are not linked to any of these.