To genuinely approach blogger relations, or media relations for that matter, we must first deconstruct the process of the media ecosystem and reprogram ourselves to tap into the basic building blocks of what makes good content and sparks conversations, which in turn helps define why people should make the effort to talk with us.
Like the press release, the PR industry has been stuck in a rut for so long that the industry is content with the existing manufacturing line of building news, writing reports, schmoozing, and simply broadcasting messages to anyone with an inbox.
The main difference between bloggers and journalists is the medium they use to reach people. It all comes down to people. No messages. No pitching. Just respect and an understanding of what you represent and why it matters to bloggers and ultimately their readers.
Your campaign should never be limited to either blogs or the press, nor should it simply focus on the Top 100 list at Techmeme, Technorati, or any other service. You need to be where your customers are discovering, sharing, and talking.
The best communications strategies will encompass not only authorities in new and traditional media but also those voices in the "Magic Middle" of the attention curve, because they help carry information and discussions among your customers directly, in a true peer-to-peer approach. The Magic Middle is defined as the bloggers who have from 20-1,000 other people linking to them. It is this group that enables PR people to reach The Long Tail, and its effects on the bottom line are measurable.
Customers and people are influenced, inspired, and driven by unique channels and communities. Figuring out whom we want to reach, why they matter to us, and why we matter to them, is the ante for getting into this game. Then, to learn about how and why to reach them, we reverse-engineer the process of where they go for their information and which discussions they participate in. And, while there may be several horizontal mediums that overlap, the vertical avenues are usually distinct and dedicated.
There's much to learn about each of the conversations, the information, and the communities you wish to jump into. You'll find that more often than not you'll change your story based on the insight garnered from simply observing. It's the difference between speaking in messages and speaking with relevance and, most importantly, honesty.
It forces PR to think like a customer instead of competitor.
Brian Solis is principal of Silicon Valley PR agency FutureWorks (www.future-works.com) and blogs at PR2.0 (www.briansolis.com). He is cofounder of the Social Media Club (www.socialmediaclub.com), an original member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup (media2.0workgroup.org), and a contributor to the Social Media Collective (www.socialmediatoday.com). In concert with Geoff Livingston, Solis released Now is Gone, a book that helps businesses learn how to engage in Social Media.