Now that we’ve decided blogs are potential PR engines…

Salesguy Ah, the good old days.  PR pros bombarded reporters, news directors and radio jocks with their pitches, releases, and freebies.

But it’s a new day my friends and suddenly PR firms, publishers and business owners have decided that blogs are as viable as the daily paper, when it comes to getting out the word about a new product, book or idea.

All that is well and good.  When it’s done right.  But most often, I get e-mails like this:

Hello  Drewsmarketingminute,
I found your site http://www.mclellanmarketing.com/ and I wanted to
know if you could Blog or write an article  about XYZ (changed because I am a nice guy)! You can write your own article; alternatively you may use this recent press release below. You also take a look at the XYZ samples and information on our site at http://www.XYZ.com Thanks!

This guy has never read my blog.  He found me on a list or technorati search.  He didn’t use my actual name (unless I have become Drewsmarketingminute) and he insults my integrity, suggesting that I would just run his release verbatim.

I get several of these a day.  I ignore several of these a day.

Ogilvy PR has the right idea.  They’ve created a bloggers outreach code of ethics.  I, and many other colleagues think they’ve got the right idea.  I hope that all of us who live in the marketing world and may be pitching bloggers take note.  If you want to reach out to a blogger…this would be a fine primer to study before you make that first contact. 

  • We reach out to bloggers because we respect your influence and feel that we might have something that is “remarkable” which could be of interest to you and/or your audience.
  • We will only propose blogger outreach as a tactic if it complements our overall strategy. We will not recommend it as a panacea for every social media campaign.
  • We will always be transparent and clearly disclose who we are and who we work for in our outreach email.
  • Before we email you, we will check out your blog’s About, Contact and Advertising page in an effort to see if you have blatantly said you would not like to be contacted by PR/Marketing companies. If so, we’ll leave you alone.
  • If you tell us there is a specific way you want to be reached, we’ll adhere to those guidelines.
  • We won’t pretend to have read your blog if we haven’t.
  • In our email we will convey why we think you, in particular, might be interested in our client’s product, issue, event or message.
  • We won’t leave you hanging. If your contact at Ogilvy PR is going out of town or will be unreachable, we will provide you with an alternate point of contact.
  • We encourage you to disclose our relationship with you to your readers, and will never ask you to do otherwise.
  • You are entitled to blog on information or products we give you in any way you see fit.  (Yes, you can even say you hate it.)
  • If you don’t want to hear from us again, we will place you on our Do Not Contact list – which we will share with the rest of the Ogilvy PR agency.
  • If you are initially interested in the campaign, but don’t respond to one of our emails, we will follow up with you no more than once. If you don’t respond to us at all, we’ll leave you alone.
  • Our initial outreach email will always include a link to Ogilvy PR’s Blog Outreach Code of Ethics.

What do you think?

20 comments on “Now that we’ve decided blogs are potential PR engines…

  1. David Jones says:

    I’m glad you printed this. Even though I work at a firm that competes with Ogilvy, I think this code is excellent, useful and pretty close to perfect.

    I’ve even heard of a blogger being pitched by someone at the firm they worked for. A simple read of the blog would’ve shown where the blogger worked. Embarrassing.

  2. Mason Hipp says:

    This really is an excellent list, one that I think PR agencies and bloggers alike should follow.

    When you send a recommendation or link to a blogger, it needs to be out of respect for their influence and writing, not because they are on a big list (like technorati). And, even if you follow all of these rules, they still don’t owe you anything.

    You’re basically asking for a favor from a very busy person. If you don’t do everything you can to make it easy for them, well, then you’re out of luck.

  3. I think this is an excellent list. They are obviously considerate of the bloggers they want to reach out to and honesty and transparency are always great persuaders. They are not preparing to fake a relationship and even want bloggers to say they hate the product if they actually do. There is also respect involved. I think they did it right.

  4. Lewis Green says:

    Drew,

    This is an excellent list. But do any of us believe that a pitch person who can’t take the time to learn our name will bother to read and/or use these guidelines?

  5. I’ve also received quite a few of those spam emails. I particularily loved the one that was a blatant pitch for a book on how to reach out effectively to the media–and that asked me to write about it on my PR blog.

    The email didn’t even follow the principles of the book it was advertising! Plus, I quite obviously don’t write a PR blog.

    Standards like that would be fabulous. Even if not all the PR people read them, it would make benefit the ones who did. AND make it more obvious when people haven’t and are merely self-serving salespeople.

  6. Cam Beck says:

    You know what’s scary? That companies are still sending what you received in your email box seems to suggest that the strategy sometimes works.

  7. PR people must know that there are different rules when approaching bloggers. These are excellent and useful tips that I will pass on to fellow PR practitioners.

  8. I love the folks that email themselves and just BCC an unknown number of people. That’s when you know they really care about you and truly love your blog.

  9. David,

    I appreciate you posting it as well. I found it on your blog! And I agree — it is respectful without being ridiculous.

    It’s worthy of everyone’s consideration.

    Drew

  10. Mason,

    I don’t know about you…but I don’t want to just be a piece of blog meat. If you want me to spend a little bit of time getting to know you, at least return the favor, you know?

    Drew

  11. Jen,

    I agree — they did it right. It would be interesting to know how bloggers have responded to Ogilvy pitches since they implemented this policy.

    I have to think their hit rate has risen.

    Drew

  12. Lewis,

    Part of that, I think is our (universal, not you and me specifically) fault. If the mass e-mail goons have success, they will not alter their methods.

    But, if we e-mail them back with a copy of this code, maybe they will get the message over time.

    Or am I being naive?

    Drew

  13. Katie,

    I agree. It sets the standard. Will everyone follow it? Probably not. But, over time…it will get adopted by those who want to be effective.

    Drew

  14. Cam,

    As I said to Lewis…part of that, I think, is shame on us. They keep doing it because some bloggers respond.

    It’s like I tell my daughter. People will respect you as much as you expect/demand that they do.

    It’s time we start expecting more.

    Drew

  15. Cathy,

    Some of the discourtesy we all see is because this is new territory. So kudos to Ogilvy for carving out the new path and defining how this new relationship could/should be served.

    I’m with you though….we need to spread the word.

    Drew

  16. John,

    LOL! You are so right. We should just delete those without even reading them!

    Drew

  17. CK says:

    When this same guy wrote me he wrote “Hi Blogs!”. I will say that gave me a big ol’ chuckle. But here’s the thing: bad enough they’re doing this but worse is that they’re doing it to marketers. Like, we see the ponies and the strings…we’re the ones who see this crud. Which makes it all the more wrong.

    And funnier.

  18. CK,

    At first, the mass e-mails with no effort to actually get to know who I am or how I could help them annoyed me. Now, I just shake my head.

    What actually bothers me is that I’ll see blog posts generated by these e-mails. We should know better.

    Drew

  19. Rohit says:

    Hi Drew –
    Thanks for building on this … I meant to comment earlier but am just now crawling out from under my book writing hole I’ve been in for the past few weeks.

    On your query about hit rate, I think that it has risen – but for a different reason than you may think. The code has caused many in our team to think more critically about which bloggers we reach out to and apply a higher standard of relevancy to those we do contact. As a result, our pitches are not only better, but we only reach out to targets that are more likely to care. This combination of a better pitch with more targeted selection of bloggers seems to be the key.

  20. Rohit,

    That makes perfect sense. It’s the same mantra we preach to clients. Rather than shotgun blast at anything and everything — pinpoint the target for better results.

    Your pitches are more effective because you’re talking more relevantly to the right audience.

    Bravo to you and your team for sensing that this was needed AND viable for all parties.

    Drew

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