Monday, June 18, 2007

Don't be a bloghead!

So since blogging has gone mainstream I have had a lot of clients ask me to get the blogging world excited about their product or service.

I have to then educate them in the tough world of guerrilla/viral online. I remind them that these are not lemmings to be manipulated, much as some well-publicized examples tend to imply otherwise, but they are typically the most vocal, opinionated and, sometimes, cynical of all consumers. To treat them in a "post it and they will believe it" type of way is a huge mistake. I tell my clients that although it sounds great -- I mean, it's supposed to be free, right? -- it's a risky strategy that can easily backfire.

Just like the message boards that are still thriving out there, blogs have to be treated with respect. On the boards you have many long-standing "residents" of the forums, not only talking to each other, but establishing influential, trusted relationships even with the "lurkers." A strange or new voice is easily detected and agendas are easily figured out. Once you're figured out, even your most helpful online buddy will turn into Sgt. Get-the-f-outta-here.

A slightly different dynamic is present on the blogs. Sure, sometimes commenters are frequent contributors and respected members of that blog's "community," but typically the blogger him/herself is the star of the show and you can't forget that.

My tact on getting some degree of attention in this space is to treat them like a feature writer for your local paper. Remember, they're people just like you and me, maybe some have slightly bigger egos, but they are people. They are also busy people and most likely get a lot of mail, solicitations and requests. My guess is if it's relevant to what their blog's about, and you use honey (respect, generosity and even flattery) rather than vinegar (demands or trickery), you'll have a much better chance. But even then, I wouldn't hold your breath.

In a good WSJ article about blogs and other community media turning your life public, it talks about some services that now aim to "clean up" people's online reputations that have been besmirched by online media. My guess? These services used a PR person's honey (relationships, relevance, respect) to get the story.


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