21/10/2011

By Louise Findlay-Wilson, Creator of PrPro and owner of Energy PR

A senior director at a US PR firm committed a cardinal sin recently, and I wanted to share it as it has lessons for anyone who is targeting bloggers or journalists.

The VP from Brandlink Communications sent an email to colleagues referring to a high profile blogger Jenny Lawson (the author of TheBlogess.com who has 168,726 twitter followers) as a $&#*%&# bitch.

This was because she had sent one of his employees a terse reply when they pitched an irrelevant story to her. Sadly the VP managed to include the blogger on the circulation list for this email, thus offending her and sparking a massive online spat.

Believe it or not, this is not the cardinal sin I want to talk about. Yes it was deeply stupid of him to do this, but the whole sorry mess kicked off because he did something much worse first!

He got annoyed with her because he assumed that, and I quote:

“You should be flattered that you are even viewed relevant enough to be pitched at all instead of alienating PR firms and PR people — who are actually the livelihood of any journalist's business.”

In other words, he suggested she should be grateful to receive story ideas from his firm!

He clearly holds bloggers and journalists in contempt, expecting them to roll over at whim — and that’s his sin. It’s plain wrong on many levels.

- Firstly, media and bloggers worth targeting (i.e. those who are rated by their readers and listeners) will only judge your story on its merits. If your story isn’t newsworthy or relevant to them please don’t pitch it to them.

- Journalists and bloggers are not to be taken for granted — if you don’t prioritise them and treat them with respect why should they be interested in what you have to say?

- You need them more than they need you!

- Bloggers are not some kind of amateurs that you can mess about — or buy off! People follow them because they are unbiased. They may be self-starting and not have a media empire behind them but that doesn’t make them any less influential or worthy of your respect. In fact their lack of commercial interest makes them more credible to their fans and therefore even more important to you.

So yes of course be careful who you copy in on internal emails, but better still be careful about how you think about bloggers and the media. This is particularly important if you head up your business. Everyone takes their cue from you. If you belittle or badmouth journalists and bloggers, suggesting they are not worthy of your precious attention, no one in your organisation will prioritise them or take them seriously.

Trust me, that will be a $&#*%&# shame!


Follow Louise on Twitter @louisefw

If you are looking for a PR agency or want to do your own PR, contact Louise Findlay-Wilson on 01993 823011 or one of her businesses. For training and tools so you can DIY PR visit www.prpro.co.uk If you are looking for a PR agency visit www.EnergyPR.co.uk


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