I've been an avid follower of Church of the Customer ever since I read Citizen Marketers a few months ago. Today, Ben McConnell has a great post on The Myth of "Cultivating Bloggers." I spend every day thinking about better ways to connect with Influencer's on behalf of my clients. My goal is to lay the foundation for great relationships and hand them off to my clients to provide inside access to the blogger within the organization. For anyone who thinks this is an easy task.... guess again.
Like Ben points out, sending traditional PR pitches is a waste of time and effort. As many A-Lister bloggers will attest, they are already inundated with PR people sending out canned pitches that are irrelevant to their focus and audience. For example, Joseph Jaffe recently posted about a good pitch he received and the approach that was used to get his attention. The writing is on the wall, people!!! They are telling you exactly what to do, which is something you won't find in other industries.
However, even though the writing is on the wall, effectively pitching an A-Lister takes time and effort. I follow over 50 of the top bloggers to identify what they are talking about and what their specialty is. Where do they work? What do they do in their spare time? What do we have in common? My goal is not to have these individuals cover my clients (sure, it would be great if they did) but my goal is to learn from them and develop solid relationships. Through them, I can help lead the agency I work for in effectively communicating with these valuable Influencer's, without interrupting them and wasting their time.
I agree with Ben's comments on helping clients "cultivate relationships with well connected customers" but would go a bit further in suggesting that your client won't always have this luxury. At times, you will have to build relationships with Bloggers who aren't well connected because your brand is unknown. You will have to pitch bloggers you don't know because of the current false expectations of the space. Everyone is looking for numbers. How many bloggers did you pitch? How many covered the organization? What was our conversion rate?
Unfortunately, many brands are lumping Social Media in with either PR or Interactive Advertising and it is necessary that we begin to educate them on expectations and separate new media from old media. The conversations on this have been started, but are they making their way beyond the blogosphere and into the boardroom?
For additional thoughts on this topic, check out BL Ochman's What's Next Blog here.