Friday, May 8, 2009

Blogger Outreach. Tread Lightly.

It's official. I'm a publisher and here's how I know.

I'm getting a lot of requests (several per week) to publish others' ideas, studies, services, etc. via my blog. Strange thing is, I'm both honored and annoyed. Here's why.

On the one hand, being asked to publish other folks' work means that "I've arrived," i.e. my blog now has enough visitors (thanks to you dear reader) to make it a worthwhile promotional vehicle.

On the other hand, it's crystal clear to me that most of the folks who write me aren't interested in me. They're just interested in me writing up their stuff.

Here's an example of one such request sans identifying markers.
Hi Jocelyn,

In light of Obama's decision to include $70 million in funding for neglected tropical diseases in his Global Health Budget, I thought you might be interested in speaking with X, Managing Director of Y. Here is what X had to say today,

“We applaud the President’s decision to include funding for neglected tropical diseases in his Global Health Budget. The return on investment for the American people will be enormous.

“For Americans who question the need to spend this money abroad when there are so many pressing needs at home, we only need to look as far the global impact of the H1N1 outbreak to understand how the rest of the world’s health impacts us.

“Cost-effective investment in life-saving medicine for the world’s most vulnerable populations will not only improve health but strengthen our relationships with countries in strategic parts of the globe.”

Feel free to share this statement with your readers. If you'd prefer to speak with X, I'd be happy to put you in touch with her to further discuss the impact of this funding.

Just let me know how I can best be of assistance.

Hmmm. What's wrong with this picture?

1) I don't know anything about Global Health. (Hint: That's why I don't write about it.) The goal of this blog has always been to share my thoughts (and hopefully yours ) regarding new ways to market in the Connected Age.

2) I don't know X and X doesn't know me so from a relationship point of view I have no incentive to publish this post.

3) X isn't reaching out to me, her publicist is. The problem here is that the onus is on me to do the work to connect with the publicist (who I don't know either) who will then put me in touch with X. But I'm not a newspaper with a research staff. I'm an n of 1. This is why it's so important for me to know and trust my "sources."

Blogger outreach isn't a bad idea. In fact, it may make a lot of sense for you to incorporate it into your PR strategy. BUT (and it's a big BUT) public relations on- or offline is still about RELATIONSHIPS. And blogs are more personal than MSM (mainstream media) so unless you're pitching the Huffington Post you must approach blogger outreach in a personal way.

I'm honored that people view Marketing for Nonprofits as a good platform for spreading their news and I'm happy when people forward interesting and relevant information to me. But I'm still a person first and I'm much more likely to publish your stuff after I get to know you.

So send me a PERSONAL email. Read, share and critique what I write. Comment. Seriously, thoughtful comments are worth their weight in gold. (I'll be indebted to you forever. :)) In short, make a genuine connection with me BEFORE you ask me to promote your stuff.




Julie Anne Reda said...

Absolutely agree. Evening in 2.0...there's a "and who are you?" question, and common etiquette.

tomjd said...

Great post, very clearly articulated. As someone who does some blogger outreach on behalf of a non-profit I'm very mindful of not just being a PR flak (because I'm not) - making sure that I'm familiar with the blog and that anything I offer is
a) relevant
b) interesting (genuinely)
c) focused (when I do contact bloggers I'll usually be no more than 10 who I think would enjoy the opportunity - if you're sending it to 100 people you haven't bothered to check if it's relevant to their blogs, hence your example)
d) creates value for them, not just for us.

Bloggers are fantastic potential allies, not just a place to re-publish a press release!

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