Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Talking to PR people about blogging

My reservations are that you can send stuff to bloggers and then have it ripped apart! This doesn't happen with traditional media as unless they are hugely passionate about wanting to rip apart what you have sent them they won't bother doing it as they don't have a lot of column inches at their disposal, whereas bloggers have the freedom and space to write what they like to any extent that they want to...

I appreciate that this is the real value of blogs but it's not fun to face down a client who's spending money with you explaining why their product/service/event is the ridicule of the online community! This hasn't happened us (yet, touch wood!) but I'm sure it will and I've seen it happen to others!

There's also this impression that PR people are all pushy blonde bimbos who have surgically attached mobiles to their ears and carry clipboards and we aren't ALL like that - though I would agree that some are. I think that PR people feel that bloggers are unapproachable in many cases so it's interesting to hear that it's the bloggers who are asking how both parties can connect. I'm delighted to hear this!
Aileen Galvin, Director/Business, entertainment | architects

The second Collision course - a meeting of Irish PR people and bloggers takes place tonight.
We’re going to get the PR and Digital Marketing people to mix more with the bloggers and to share their experiences during the time we have. We’ll split into three groups... each will be given a campaign to work on and present their ideas. The purpose is to cross-train/cross-share their opinions and insights and in doing so, get to know each other even more.
Prompted by Emily Tully's recent post on Online Press Releases, how do you like yours?, where she asked bloggers how they'd like to receive information from PR people, I contacted some friends and contacts in PR, events and marketing that I know to ask them questions inspired by those Damien raised in his summation of the first Collision course:
  • Could bloggers help you spread the word about your particular events, clients or promotions and are you interested in them doing so?

  • How should a blogger interested in doing so go about contacting you or your clients for more information?

The replies I've received have been as follows:

Cillian Barry, Owner, Feep Marketing
Answer: Online PR is becoming a must have marketing discipline for brands but there are many deep and dangerous pitfalls so it needs to be approached with some caution. Bloggers, better than most, understand the dynamics of online communications and can therefore provide a useful service to brands looking to enter this space.

As with all things relevance helps, just take the time to approach each person individually whether you are a blogger approaching an agency or brand or an agency or brand approaching a blogger

Julie Momboisse, Communication Executive & Audience Development,
Temple Bar Cultural Trust
Answer: We organise lots of cultural events during the year. If you attend a TBCT event you will discover a whole different world in the heart of Dublin’s city centre: outdoor markets, concerts, circus, street spectacle, fire artists, comedians, magicians, musicians, movies, painters, sculptors, opera, public artworks, workshops, talks and walks.

We know that more and more people find out about our events online. We strongly believe that people's habits are changing and that we need to take a step further and engage with the blogging community. In that sense, bloggers can help us spreading the words about our events but also, getting closer to our audiences’ expectations.

Answer: If you blog, are interested in what we do and want to share it with your readers, please get in touch! You can contact me through our blog; send me an e-mail at or even call into the Temple Bar Cultural Information Centre - it’s right in the heart of Temple Bar at 12 East Essex Street.

Mark Duckenfield, founder, Emergent Events and Street Performance World Championship
It's surprising how many people hear about the festival through blogs to the degree that a good few people are coming to the Championship from the UK this year directly because of them.

I have just done a quick search in the festival inbox and there are 257 results from 77 people. Now that's huge especially considering that we have never have used blogs...

You might think that 77 from a festival of 100,000 is not that big... but you have to remember that not everybody will have mailed us. It would be great to a way of figuring out how many people come to the event because of blogs.

I honestly do wish that I had more time to concentrate on things like a blog, Bebo and Myspace... Our office is small, as you know, it really is only Conor and me and any of those things takes up a huge amount of time. I tried to manage the Bebo page in the first year but I just didn't have the time... my brother tried to do it in the second year (but he is 17 with the attention span of a gnat). We know that we can utilise them all better this year... it is just figuring out how. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them.

As a final note, I'm sure that you are aware of the Event Guide weekly email. It really good, and really effective... but... I think that it is too unstructured. Its just too long. I love the idea of it but I cant see thousands of people reading through a mail that size. I wonder if the blogging world could help that out.

Emma Kytzia, PR & Communications Exec, National College of Ireland
Absolutely, National College of Ireland would be delighted for bloggers to help spread the word about the college, our full and part-time courses, our open days and our public events.

We're a little unsure how to go about approaching other bloggers though, and would be uncertain as to the reaction we'd receive.

Shauneen Armstrong, Press Officer at The Labour Party

The basic answer to your question is yes. We do engage with bloggers, many are on our mailing lists, they have been invited to our events including conferences. In addition we make as many things available online as possible.

Our last conference was streamed live on the internet, the second year in a row that we have done that. Also through our Flickr and You Tube sites not only are we engaging with the people who take the time to comment but we are also providing content for people's sites if they wish to use it.

In addition to using Twitter to point people to different things that we are doing; highlighting campaigns and engaging with those have followed us, we have also used the site to give followers sneak peaks of various materials, and events that are not yet publicised. More recently we have had new members recruited through Twitter.

From what I'm seeing in both the events and charity section, there's a huge need and drive to understand and embrace the online medium. I found the first Collision course extremely interesting as a starting point of dialogue between PR professionals and bloggers and am sure the second will be even more involving.

I contributed yesterday to a seminar for charities, communities and voluntary organisations. Organised by The Wheel, this Social Media for Charities workshop introduced the 40+ people there to the potential of blogs, social networks and engaging with people online.

Nathalie McDermott from On Road Media, a London-based social enterprise that trains marginalised groups and organisations in podcasting, video blogging and social networks spoke to respresentatives from groups as diverse as the Ballyfermot Advocacy Service to Barnardos to the Catholic Institute for Deaf People to the Irish Georgian Society, Samaritans Ireland and the National Concert hall on how best to get their message across.

It was interesting, informative and highlighted the need for courses such as these, to educate and explain in a non judgemental, no-question-is-stupid, we-all-had-to-start-somewhere kind of way. From what I've seen even since yesterday, there was positive reaction and action, with many of the organisations setting up Twitter accounts yesterday afternoon. A small step but one in the right direction.

I was also invited recently to the launch of the St Patrick's Day Festival 2009, to the launch of the 2009 Temple Bar programme, to talk to the Abbey Theatre about their events and am aware of other events this year looking to blog, to talk to bloggers engage with the online community. The pre-launch event for one of Ireland's largest companies that was on last night confirmed how it's not just the "new, young and hip" brands, companies or services who are engaging, but older, established businesses who are taking a new look at the way they do things.

While I can offer absolutely no professional advice on the whole PR/blogger communications, I can say based on personal experience of having blogged about so many events that the more information I get, the better able I will be to make the decision about whether I'll blog about something. A press-release is only a small part - any official photos, previews of ads, programmes, videos or contact details - basically anything that will help me write a post is appreciated. There's no guarantee that I will use it, but if it's something or someone that I'm interested in and I believe other people will be too, then chances are that I'll post it.

All you can do is ask nicely. It's what I do and am always positively surprised by the result.

1 comment:

  1. Darragh, I'm too tired to read all the quoted/comments but Adland ireland told me that Bord Gas had actually gone out and contacted Bloggers prior to launch. I am excited about that ! And I found some volunteers for a charity launch/collection via FB and The Blog. My GBF Imelda of Well Shod originally set up his blog to teach clients how important social media is (he is in PR) and it has overtaken the print glossies in up to date shoenews.
    I am very excited by this, I hope I can stay in the race.