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Working with bloggers & good pr practices
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Working with bloggers & good pr practices

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    Working with bloggers & good pr practices Working with bloggers & good pr practices Document Transcript

    • Working with bloggers & good PR practicesSo… at first it seems like a typical day of getting down to work, my workout is over, I have my coffee,I’m going through emails and generally getting caught up in the book world. For me, that includes alot of book blogs, Twitter and Facebook for news, networking, researching, pitching, following up.I immediately see a Tweet that catches my eye, from one book blogger to another that involves PR-blogger relations. Uh-oh, I better check that out, and I follow the link to a post on Flavorwire: How toAlienate Bloggers and Boost Book Sales, http://flavorwire.com/17026/how-to-alienate-bloggers-and-boost-book-sales.The full post about the campaign for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a new novel by Jane Austenand Seth Grahame-Smith, is worth reading because it includes the letter the blogger received alongwith a review copy of a book. The letter contains a number of demands – and the problem beginsthere. It’s one thing to make requests, but the way this letter is worded is so unprofessional,threatening and harsh that any recipient is bound to be annoyed – perhaps to the point of notwanting to review that book or any book from this company. That’s PR FAIL, no question about it.I’m particularly sensitive to bad PR practices because I was a journalist for many years and on thereceiving end of some bad PR myself (I also had professional relationships with plenty of good PRpeople). Now that I’m on the other side of the fence, I try to do the things that I appreciated when Iwas being pitched. Lately I’ve seen a lot of griping about PR practices, so this has been on my mind.From a PR perspective, there are several problems I have with this letter, starting with attitude andtone. I’m not aware of a single successful PR pitch that included threats – such as a warning thatbloggers will never work with this firm again if they don’t do things the firm’s way. PR and bloggershave a give-and-take relationship that can be mutually beneficial – when executed appropriately.
    • Here are some of my thoughts about what seems more like a bully’s temper tantrum on paper than areview request from a PR pro:* The wording of the request for an embargo. I understand the desire to have reviews appear onlyafter a certain date, but the condescending tone is a turnoff. And I hate to be the bearer of bad news,but if you choose to send out a book (or any information) with an embargo request the recipient doesNOT have to comply with your request. If the review date matters, ask the bloggers if they canschedule the review after X date in a nice way and explain *why* that particular date is important.Then, the bloggers can make an informed decision and many, if not all, will probably be happy toagree to those terms. Yelling at bloggers in the letter, using all capital letters and ending with anexclamation point is rude, childish and pointless – unless you’re hoping to never deal with any ofthose bloggers again. In that case, congratulations, you’ve succeeded.* The admonishment about not using excerpts is factually incorrect and also comes across aschildish – under Fair Use reprinted quotes are not a copyright infringement. Sounding like BigBrother, the letter writer states: “Trust me, I’ll find it…” in reference to reprinting excerpts. That tonecertainly doesn’t result in a spirit of cooperation. Again, why not simply ask the bloggers to let youknow if they plan to use book excerpts, if there is some reason to track their use? Reviews that usebook excerpts are a plus; it’s another way to give people a feel for the book. Using a threateningtone is not going to ensure compliance – or even a book review.* My favorite line: “If you don’t abide by the above terms, we will never work together again.” In boldtype, too. I’m thinking by this point, most people are probably hoping to never hear from that PRperson/company again, and for good reason.I’m amazed at the sense of entitlement this person seems to have. Developing relationships as a PRpro takes care – every person (blogger) is different and if you’re in this for the long haul what mattersis taking the time to get to know people, their likes and dislikes, and their preferred method(s) ofcontact. Sometimes being in PR feels a lot like the Rodney Dangerfield routine – we just don’t getany respect – but it’s critical to have a thick skin and act professionally at all times. It stings to sendout a nice review request and receive an unkind comment in return (it’s happened – maybe they’vehad a bad day) and rejection is never fun (yet a huge part of being in PR, but it’s not personal). Therare unkind comment and not-so-infrequent rejections are part of the job, and taking the high road100% of the time matters. I might take a break from the unkind commenter and look for an openingto contact that person later on, but the blogger who says “no” today to one book review request maybe quite enthusiastic about saying “yes” to the next book request, so there’s no need to burnbridges.It can be tempting to try to cut corners with form letters, mass mailings and an impersonal or evencurt approach because there are only so many hours in the day and it seems difficult, if notimpossible, to get everything done. That approach is guaranteed to fail, however. For one thing, badPR practices these days will probably have the practitioner outed online almost immediately – viaTwitter and blogs – and instead of alienating one person there may be a large number of people whowill want nothing to do with that PR person/company. Clearly that isn’t going to help future bookpublicity efforts when your online footprint consists of a large number of people noting how poorlyyou perform your job.I’m also not particularly fond of sending unsolicited books to a list of people – this tactic has beenused on print journalists forever and it hasn’t been wildly successful so why it would be considered agood idea with bloggers is beyond me – unless you’ve received their permission to simply sendbooks. Otherwise, it’s a matter of getting to work, getting to know people and using your informationon their likes and dislikes to match them to your books. Besides, circumstances change all the time
    • – reviewers take a hiatus, or have to stop accepting books when the TBR pile gets too large (it’sprobably too large all the time, but sometimes a break helps make it seem manageable).I realize that there are certain growing pains in the book world, as print is ceding its role to the onlineworld and there aren’t many, if any, rules yet. There are plenty of issues to discuss as the old guard(print) gives way to the new guard online, and many bloggers are new to this arena. (I would arguethough, that the average book blogger online gets the point of book reviews in a way that the oldguard never did). That’s a future blog post or more – old guard giving way to the new; professionalstandards/guidelines, etc. – but, nothing trumps good old common sense.In the end, it boils down to one thing: respect. Mutual respect, in which book bloggers are not seenas lackeys who take orders from PR people but book lovers who put a lot of time and effort intoreviewing books and creating a dynamic online community that showcases books in a variety ofways. When PR people understand that, and treat bloggers accordingly, they will find some greatopportunities for their authors and books, and then everybody wins.For more on this issue, visit:http://heylady.net/2009/04/09/in-which-i-rant-about-fair-use/http://bethannethebookmaven.typepad.com/stilllifewithbookmaven/2009/04/the-curious-case-of-the-flippant-release-letter.htmlhttp://bethannethebookmaven.typepad.com/stilllifewithbookmaven/2009/04/the-curious-case-of-the-flippant-release-letter-part-two.htmlPosted by Paula Krapf of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.