public relations, social media

Like it or not, bloggers are reporters too

One of my job duties, in addition to working on content creation (blogs, YouTube, etc) and writing stories for the university newsletter, is handling press calls.  I really like dealing with the press, especially out here because I get along with so many of them, including the local bloggers. I can hear some of your now:

Bloggers?  You have to deal with bloggers?

Yeah.  And I’m always working to get answers to their questions, or send them information about what’s going on around campus without forcing them to jump through additional hoops that the members of the traditional media don’t have to deal with.  Many bloggers covering your organization want to be given the same treatment and respect that you will give other members of the mainstream media.

Back when social media was called “new media” it was being heralded as a new way for people to engage in civic journalism – turning average people into journalists.  Now those people are taking advantage of these tools to write about their own communities, loves, and hates.  As PR professionals, we have to be ready to treat them like any other journalist, because you never know when that one blog post you didn’t respond to will be the one that the NY Times journalist will read and base a story around.

For those of you who haven’t read The Long Tail yet, run – do not walk – to read this book.  One of the concepts I came away with was the idea that a blog post can travel up the Long Tail graph, from a blog with relatively few readers, to one read by thousands or hundreds of thousands of people a day with a few link referrals.

Instead of blowing off these bloggers, even those who disagree with you, think about engaging with bloggers.  Answer their questions when they send them to you.  Send them information via Twitter – no hard sell, just a quick tweet asking if they would be interested in XYZ.  Follow them and pay attention to what they say before you need to contact them for anything.  Engage with them, on their terms first (via their blogs) and then on your blog after you develop it.

What do y’all do to engage these new reporters?  Have you held an event for bloggers only?  Is this something you’d be interested in?