Tag Archives: blog

Save the Ghosts for Halloween

ghost

A few days ago, my friend Susan Iskiwitch asked for my thoughts on PR agencies ghost blogging for clients. The timing was interesting since I had just been asked a similar question by Scott Meis as part of a Q & A post for his blog.

PR folks have been ghost writing for clients forever – bylined articles, quotes in news releases, speeches, key messages, opening remarks, etc. To be honest, I’ve never thought twice about it. It’s part of the job. It’s what we do. We determine the best way to communicate strategically and then set out to painstakingly write prose that delivers.

But…

It may seem like splitting hairs, but in my mind there’s a difference between ghost writing the typical items mentioned above and ghost writing blog posts, Twitter “tweets,” and blog comments. That’s because there is a different expectation in place when it comes to social media engagement.

When reading a newspaper article with quotes or watching an interview on your local TV news affiliate, there’s no expectation of interacting with the person being interviewed. It’s passive.

Not so in social media. People engage with the tools because they want to connect with people. If you don’t tell people that in fact an outside party is blogging on your behalf, then your social media efforts are a sham. And when you’re found out, you will lose trust.

So let’s say you are up front with the fact that your agency is blogging on your behalf. That’s not ghost blogging, but I’m still not a huge fan of it. Chances are good that no one will get upset about it since you’ve been transparent, but you miss out on one of the biggest benefits of social media, which is its ability to humanize your brand. In my opinion, the best way to bring your organization’s humanity to life is with voices from within the company.

Agencies can bring a lot of value to the content their clients’ create online in numerous ways, but I don’t think ghost blogging is one of them.

Am I looking at it the wrong way? What do you think about ghost blogging?

*Image by Stephen Groeneveld.

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How NOT to Pitch Bloggers

I’ve seen a LOT of bloggers calling out PR pros specifically in posts the past couple months. When you’re finished reading this, scroll back up and check out this example for your reading and learning pleasure from Eric Karjaluoto that he posted last week.

They all share the same tips for approaching them the right way – read their blogs, start a conversation, contribute through comments. It’s the same thing offline reporters have been telling PR folks for years –read my past articles, know what I cover.

The challenge is that many clients care more about quantity than they do quality. The only PR stat many CEOs or board members look at is total number of impressions (circulation, audience, readers, etc.). They base their perception on successful PR on that one little (or big) number. So clients want to see massive call reports and the bigger the better. They want as many emails sent and phone calls made as possible within each hour. That approach doesn’t give the account team time to research the people they’re pitching.

Our industry jokes about “smile and dial,” but that’s one of the reasons we get a bad rap among reporters. We’re doing the same with email blasts when we “spray and pray.” The difference – and it’s a big difference – is that managing editors aren’t going to give up precious editorial space for a reporter to vent about bad PR pitches. Bloggers, on the other hand, have much more liberty to draft a negative post to vent their frustrations.

What Eric and others are asking for – dialogue – takes a strong investment in time and energy by either clients, agencies or both. And the relationships aren’t built overnight.

As we all find ourselves beginning to target blogs and other social media, my question is “Does this change the way we reach out to bloggers going forward?” I believe it should if we want to give ourselves the best chance at success and lessen our chances of becoming the subject of blog posts about “PR Idiots.” But that will take a shift in focus from both clients and agencies that values quality over quantity. At the least, they should be valued equally.

Do you think we need to change our approach? Do you completely disagree?

*Image by Stefano Brivio.

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