Earlier this week I discussed whether PR professionals are better new media marketers than traditional marketers. I still contend that PR pros have the better mindset for new media marketing. The variable, of course, is whether the PR pros have taken the time to understand the new media culture. I have seen one such case in the last few weeks where a PR firm didn't (and likely still doesn't) understand new media. Here's what happened...
On August 6, I received a "Blogger Alert" in my email from a "full-service media and public relations agency founded in 1994 to 'restore faith in media,' provide 'value-added P.R. that defines values' and give Christian messages relevance and meaning in mainstream media."
This "alert" was an HTML email sent with the following headline:
CREATE A "CULTURE OF STEWARDSHIP" IN YOUR CHURCH
The email was to notify me of a new 30-day small group stewardship study by a well known church stewardship consulting firm and that this product now has a promo video on YouTube and GodTube. Nine days later I received another email from this same organization but this time it wasn't a blogger alert, rather a standard news release.
So...where to begin...ok, here's the beginning of my issues with these emails:
1. I don't know this PR firm. I have heard of them but have never talked to anyone from their organization.
2. I don't recall ever signing up for any news alerts from this organization. I don't see anywhere on their website where I could sign up for news alerts if I want them so I assume I never signed up for anything. Both emails I received from them had links to unsubscribe from their list, but how did I get on it to begin with?
3. What do they want from me? Both the alert and news release didn't say what they want me to do if in the off chance I am actually interested in what they are promoting.
4. Is this really newsworthy? So an organization created a new product and they posted a video on YouTube and GodTube? Is that it? Am I missing something else here?
I have to admit these emails really frustrated me because they're coming from a Christian PR firm that just seems lazy. I really hope it's simply a case of ignorance and that they will learn there are better ways to promote to bloggers. In an effort to follow up a little ranting with a little help, here are some things for new media marketers (PR folks or otherwise) to keep in mind when they want bloggers to promote something for them:
- Remember that bloggers are individuals not organizations. If you want a blogger to promote something for you, you MUST build a relationship with him or her before you do anything else. It's the most important thing you can do.
- Be direct. If you want something, don't beat around the bush. The blogger is already expecting you to ask for something, otherwise you wouldn't be emailing him or her. Bloggers are generally pretty nice folks. They may turn you down, but if you're direct and personal they will still probably respond (and not write a blog post about how you don't know what you're doing.)
- Don't be a spammer. When you send an email blast to bloggers you're spamming them. Spam is unsolicited bulk email. From time to time I get personal emails from organizations and individuals to mention something on this blog. If it's a personal email I try to always respond. If it feels canned, fake, or otherwise less than authentic, I delete it. If it's a bulk email I delete it also...except in this case when it just seemed like it was time to talk about it on this blog.
- Bloggers would rather make and break news than react to news. Give us a chance. Don't give bloggers the scraps. Was the fact that this client has a video on YouTube really newsworthy? If you already know it's not newsworthy in mainstream media then don't bother sending it to bloggers either.
- Study the individual blogs you hope will work with you. If you have never read the blog that you want to use, don't email the blogger. Take some time to at least read the most recent four or five posts and look through their archives to see what makes the person tick. You will almost always find something that you can relate to what you're doing...otherwise why do you want that blogger in the first place?