Bloggers: How To Approach Companies

    October 5, 2006

Alright, timeout, we need to fix something….

For all the enthusiasm and energy that I and so many other PR folks have put into blabbering about social media these last few years, especially blogs, our zeal for participation may very well be our undoing – or at very least, the cause of many gray hairs.

This undoing comes at the hands of an emerging crop of “citizen journalists” that have developed an unrealistic sense of entitlement and have ceased asking and are now demanding, at least in some cases, the same level of access and information from companies that has long been the exclusive privilege of mainstream journalists.

Now let’s be clear, what’s broken here has little to do with *who* should have access and information, rather it’s *how* people, especially bloggers, exercise this new privilege. Frankly, I’m finding that some bloggers just don’t know how to ask for what they want from companies – and that’s frustrating for the blogger, for the company too.

So, in the interest of alleviating some headaches, I’m throwing out a few simple tips to keep in mind when initiating contact, especially if it’s through corporate PR:

Who are you?
While most companies are getting better about following blogs, there are still, you know, 50 million or so. Introducing yourself never hurts.

What’s your schtick?
What’s your blog called? What’s the link? Some basic info to help us understand what “Bob’s Musings” is about would really help.

Whaddaya want?
Are you doing a science experiment with our product? Do you want to have lunch with the CEO? What’s on your mind?

Also, why?
Just a basic explanation will suffice, but make your case, don’t assume a request without justification will fly.

When can I get back to you?
Yeah, I know you want to post *right now* but it’s 1:30AM and I’m pretty certain we’ll need a few hours to respond. Give us a practical timeframe for getting back to you.

How do I reach you?
Email’s great but we may have to actually talk, so give me a phone number too (and note my fellow geeks, Skype doesn’t count).

Now, there’s a final tip here, it’s my own really, but it goes a little something like this: Don’t be a d—.

PR people in general have pretty thick skins and I think most will make a concerted effort to address an incoming request, but man, I’ve heard some horror stories lately of bloggers with just zero tact or respect, trying to use strong arm tactics to bully and manipulate (and blackmail) companies for info and access, and that’s just ridiculous – and totally unnecessary.

There’s a middle ground here, it’s obtainable too, it just requires a little patience, understanding and communication from everyone involved.

Mike Manuel is the founder of the award winning Media Guerrilla blog. Media Guerrilla is an insiders take on the practice of technology public relations with a focus on the issues, tactics and trends that are specific to the tech industry.

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