Trylon Communications  - March 2006

Pitching Blogs Revisited

Back in October 2002, when few media professionals gave blogging much thought if any, we introduced the concept of pitching blogs for PR with a strict emphasis on transparency and disclosure being the key to any successful contact.

A blog’s credibility depends on it being perceived as an informal, idiosyncratic and personal conduit of information. Therefore, we stressed the need to be sensitive in putting a blog in a situation where its “outsider” status is compromised by being identified as a corporate mouthpiece. Needless to say, a designated shill doesn’t do anyone any good.

It should be needless to say all that. But a recent New York Times piece demonstrating the less-than-transparent methods used to pitch blogs demands that we reiterate our early points.

As the Times details, some blogs may be simply reprinting stories or posts that companies are writing themselves – something akin to a newspaper reporter taking a press release from a company and reprinting it as news. Another example of questionable journalistic ethics is the broadcasting of self-sponsored VNRs as news.

Both methods can only reinforce negative attitudes about journalism and public relations. By blurring the lines between journalism, blogging and PR, each discipline becomes diluted. For public relations, the end result is that slight skepticism on the part of your audience becomes ossified cynicism, which drowns out even the most subtle, sophisticated messaging.

Blogs have matured substantially since we first discussed the proper way to approach them. Unfortunately, in too many instances, when it comes to approaching the blogosphere, some in our profession haven’t shown similar maturation.