Monday, June 16, 2008

Guy Kawasaki on the impact of bloggers on PR and buzz

In his June column in Entreprenur, Guy Kawaski's makes an important point about the importance of blogging relations.

"Blogging has flipped traditional PR on its head. It used to be that ink begot buzz. Life was simple then: You sucked up to the The Wall Street Journal, one of its reporters wrote about your company, and the buzz began."

One of his tips is to "Give swag" -- a point that Chris Abraham emphasized in a recent interview. The reason is that blogging is often a second career and there are few perks so swag can make a difference to get bloggers to respond.

One of the most important tips was this:
  • "Make connections before you need them. Mediocre marketers try to befriend bloggers when they need them. Good marketers befriend bloggers before they need them. Great marketers befriended bloggers while they were working at their previous companies. Make lots of connections. Today's egocentric, self-indulgent blogger with five page views per day may well be tomorrow's Technorati 100 stud."

The challenge in following that tip is that clients may be reluctant to engage in a blogging outreach campaign if there isn't a short-term payoff.

But here's a point I think worth keeping mind: short-term payoffs are unlikely. If social media is about conversation -- something that PR is supposed to be better at than advertising -- you've got to start the conversation as a monologue before others will start talking to you.

For clients, and their agencies, it's about having faith that it's the right thing to do. Which is a tough sell. And it's not the right bet for every client.

Still, Kawasaki's tips are worthwhile -- even if they help you decide not to engage. Check out his tips at "Mind Your Manners To take advantage of free buzz from bloggers, make sure to follow the code of conduct."


Chris Abraham said...

I didn't say, "give away swag," at all -- what
I did say is this

"Gifts don’t have to be free stuff — like books or iPods — gifts can be in the form of knowledge, intellectual property, insider access, or blogger exclusives; gifts can be informational, gifts can solve a community problem, or customer service issues.

What a gift needs to be is super-valuable to the recipient — the value of a gift is based on perception. You need to be willing to give the gift that the blogger wants and not the gift you are prepared or want to give.

What is not cool is half measures or crappy, throw-away gifts, the Internet version of key rings and a bowl of candy. Offering throttled, limited or restricted demos (without access to the full version when it is released); offering a single book chapter (without the whole book being an option); or granting “exclusive” access to something that is already released is just plain lame and will result in severe negative consequences.

It is pretty bad to not give a gift when you reach out to bloggers just because you feel entitled or represent a fancy client but it is worse to be stingy about the gift you do give. Make sure the gift is generous — give until it hurts."

Stevie said...

Swag is the name of the game in Los Angeles– in a city that lives and dies by celebrities getting swag and quite frankly are the least needy for that - because they have the $$ to pay for anything given to them.

Yet they give the products to those who can afford them and won't give a darn thing (really -- I have been dissed to my face because I am press-- particularly online as bloggers are thought to carry no power. Really? You would think that some pr people would be aware of the power of immediate press and going viral but not so)

Swag has a bad connotation because it smacks of pandering and frankly payola. However when it comes to blogging– depending on the topic of course–one can hardly blog about a skincare line if one hasn’t tried it — or has tried it for only one week and doesn’t own up to the fact.

Gifting is somewhat different. Sometimes it’s a holiday or birthday gift that really is a “gift” between a corporate entity and the blogger for the support (if there has been support and I don’t mean Perez Hilton type support that has been advertised) that the blogger may have given. Or it can be something that the corporate entity has done to gain the attention to the brand in such an unusual and interesting way that it definitely gains the immediate attention and enthusiasm of the blogger– like a video iPod that has videos of fashion shows or make-up tips from NY Fashion Week .
In LA, there is a gifting process that is quid pro quo but typically, for the more visible press— which means stylists who bring in celebrities to a suite whose promoter gives them a trip or a great big fat goody bag of stuff (the same goody bag given to the celebrities)
However, that being said, even the stylists are shunned despite bringing or sending in celebrity friends, clients or contacts.
Some PR and brands don’t think that bloggers count. Trust me– we can reach people faster if you are kind, polite and friendly.
Agreeing with Chris here that offering me some worthy information is well worth it — whether it’s to be written about or giving me some heads up on a trend or event that’s about to launch.
I have pr people who slip me the 411 on celebrity clients wearing the brands they represent before anyone else has it. You can bet I run that information and pronto!! Others tell me about new things just because they know I can help support that when it launches– because I can “plan” for blogs around it.

It all depends on how and what you value. I have yet to see anyone gift me something so amazing that I would jump. Been promised things (cars to come get me and other trinkets), but they never come through– suddenly bloggers are persona not so grata.

What's really interesting is that when you are persona not so grata that when they *NEED* you particularly when they want you to cover something at the last minute-- a day or the day of or 2 -3 days before when they have all the 411 at least a couple weeks before.
Bloggers have schedules too and to be so "off the cuff" and treat a blogger as "less important" most of the time but then come to them at the last minute to get some coverage-- how cooperative do you think that blogger will be? Karma baby, karma!

Norman Birnbach said...

Thanks, Chris, for the clarification; I've highlighted your comments in a blog posting today. Thanks, too, la story. I think you're right -- but not just with Hollywood types. Too many people don't understand the value of bloggers, and think they can jump on a dime. Given that for most, blogging is a second career, clients have to understand that bloggers can't just cover an event with such short notice. Plus, the viral nature of blogging can be as important or even more important in generating buzz. I will post more about that later this week.