Last night I was on a panel at for Social Media Club LA. It was called “Meet the Bloggers” and I thought it would be about the intersection of blogging and marketing but it went into a direction I hadn’t expected, which was just blogging.
Since I had my own agenda I tried to address the fact that bloggers aren’t journalists (I think the moderator disagreed with me). There were three other people waiting to speak so I didn’t get to quite finish my thought which was that bloggers are not journalists and therefore should be approached very differently.
Liz asks a really great question. What is the difference between a blogger and a journalist besides the medium?
Since bloggers aren’t journalists they don’t need three independent sources to verify a story. If you’re a publicist or a marketer this means that your pitches to have your expert chime in on news stories are much less likely to be relevant. If you’re trying to get coverage for a client on a blogger’s site it might be a better approach to have your client talk about the blogger rather than the news. You’ll have to actually read the blog and find out what the blogger writes about. It’s a little more legwork than pitching a reporter who has an assigned beat.
Solo bloggers don’t have editors or deadlines and therefore do not need story ideas with the same frequency as journalists. Every day I have a handful of emails that say STORY IDEA: blah blah blah. The reason I’m sure they say blah blah blah is because I’ve never actually needed a story idea and when I see Story Idea in the subject line I delete the emails. If you’re a publicist who loves to pitch story ideas it might be worth your while to email bloggers and ask them if they are ever looking for story ideas and if so what type. Then folks like me will say “no thank you” and bloggers who are looking for story ideas will be able to tell you how you can pitch them. It’s a little more work but if it keeps you out of spam folders it’s time well spent.
Journalists are not allowed to accept gifts, cash or swag. Bloggers might take everything. Well, this is up for debate and I hear plenty of stories about journalists who are rewarded generously and bloggers who refuse to accept swag but the reality is that if you’re pitching an old media journalist you can pitch them the story. If you’re pitching a blogger you can pitch them the “how does it benefit you” angle. This may include a swanky party, payment (sponsored posts or tweets), keeping the clothes/tech/device/accessories, junkets or simple affiliate opportunities. It’s entirely possible a blogger is interested in none of these things but it does differentiate them from Journalists and it’s important to note the difference.
There are as many ways to blog as there are bloggers and group sites can be newsy (think HuffPo) but the pitch has to change if you want to reach the bloggers. Liz, that is why I really wanted a room full of marketers and bloggers to understand that bloggers are not journalists.