Five Ways To Get Great PR With Specialist Bloggers

Once relegated to the most esoteric of interests (think Philately or Dungeons and Dragons), specialist bloggers are now all over the media landscape, and PR professionals are paying attention. In fact, I’ve had consumer clients who were more interested in what an influential blogger said about their product than a mainstream news publication, especially when it comes to important lifestyle niches like craft beer or mobile devices.

Like working with all media, however, there are certain points to keep in mind when dealing with these bloggers, who are often passionate experts in their fields.

Remember, bloggers are not journalists

90% of the stress or grievances when working with bloggers stem from a lack of understanding of who they are, or more specifically, what they’re not – professional journalists. Most never wrote for a publication, and even the top niche bloggers can be enthusiasts, not objective reporters.
This is not to say that the quality of work is subpar. The top craft beer bloggers I’ve worked with when dealing with a major beer brand were even more knowledgeable and detailed in their prose than journalists who cover craft beer for national publications. One must remember, however, that a love for a particular field does not make them immune to errors. Since most bloggers are the writer and editor, they may sometime miss mistakes an editor would have caught.  In addition, we shouldn’t assume the blogger knows PR jargon like”off the record,” “exclusive,” or “embargo”.

But they can be more beneficial for brand visibility

The lack of resources works both ways, with bloggers not constrained by word count or an editor’s blue pencil, allowing them to express more detailed views and opinions on a particular product or subject. They also have a unique way of getting your message across by speaking directly to their readers in a personalized, unfiltered way that is often lost in traditional journalism’s need to seem impartial and unbiased.

Be patient yet firm

Don’t get upset over minor hiccups like a blogger’s failing to cc everyone on an email or forgetting that you sent an image folder a few days ago. Remember, some have full-time jobs and blogging is only one part of their lives. At the same time, don’t let them take you for a ride. If they misspelled a name or included an incorrect image, be sure it gets fixed even if they are “off the clock”, especially if it’s a paid sponsorship post.

Incentives don’t have to be monetary

Some brands are reluctant to work with bloggers due to the pay wall barrier and view a sponsored post as essentially (an incredibly cheap) native advertisement. From a blogger’s perspective, however, a few hundred dollars can go a long way to help justify the work they put into their blogs. If however, you or your client are adamant about not paying, look for alternative ways to garner a blogger’s interest. For our beer brand, we simply gave craft beer bloggers an “exclusive” first opportunity to review a new IPA before it hit stores. This sense of exclusiveness coupled with their fascination with the brand’s history more than justified working with us.

Set expectations beforehand

Before working with any blogger, be sure to outline exactly what you hope to accomplish by working together. Is your ultimate goal to drive site traffic to a commerce site or simply gain favorable reviews for a new product? Have a detailed conversation with the blogger and be sure to include social media shares or any other key metrics you need to evaluate success.
Ultimately niche blogger relationships, both transactional and otherwise, are a powerful asset to any PR campaign, especially as part of a broader traditional media outreach. Just be sure to understand the key differences and you’ll be glad you entered the blogosphere.

7 Ways To Get More From Influencer PR And Marketing

A primary objective of an effective public relations program is visibility, of course. But often, it’s not enough. Building awareness for a new product or explaining a complex issue is a fundamental basis for strategic PR. It’s a very worthwhile one, but increasingly we are being challenged to “move the needle.”

How can PR work harder to engage customers and encourage buying behavior? One way: it can leverage influence. And a great way to generate influence is to “borrow” it from those experts or individuals who already have the ability to persuade or move customers to action.

But how should we define and measure influence? It doesn’t have to mean boldfaced names or even social media stars. One useful view of influencer marketing is Altimeter Group’s three “R”s: Reach, Relevance, and Resonance. Here are some effective ways to look at and leverage social influence in the context of a PR or marketing campaign.

Start with research

The more deeply you dig, the higher the quality of candidates will be. It’s also useful to realize that reach is a legitimate barometer of influence, and tools like Klout and PeerIndex are useful, but it’s a mistake to use reach alone as a metric. For one thing, many tools they are skewed towards social presence on specific platforms like Twitter over others (say, Quora or Medium.) More generally, index-style tools really measure the potential for influence, not the influence itself.

Measure engagement

Not just followers. Engagement often counts more than mere reach, and it can distinguish a humble “citizen influencer” such as those who have been successfully targeted by brands like Virgin Air and Taco Bell,  over bigger-name authors and speakers who are notable but  not as engaging to relevant prospects.

Think niche

Similarly, passion and relevance can trump numbers. A film buff or gadget geek may have fewer followers than socially prominent figures with a more general following, but they may be more natural advocates or reviewers for new products or advocates on issues.

Look for up-and-comers

As with the above, it’s rewarding to “discover” emerging bloggers or others who aren’t yet as well-recognized as top-tier personalities but who have the potential to generate authentic engagement and influence. In several social influence campaigns for clients, we have stumbled across seemingly little-known bloggers with a loyal or super-engaged following. They inevitably drive more traffic to client websites than more established figures and are easier to work with to boot.

Influencers beget influencers

Often a rising social influencer knows exactly who is up-and-coming in his/her community. An organic way to build a sphere of influencers is often through an initial core group which can be mined for peer contacts and friends.

Offer something

It’s not a one-way street, and any influence promotion based solely on shilling a product won’t be as effective as an integrated program based on a true connection. Beyond payment, of course, you can offer audience or category insights, great content, and access to a new audience.

Finally, create your own influencers

Sometimes loyal customers or super-users of a service or product have significant influence and don’t even realize it, or they can be elevated to influencer status. By designing a loyalty program or giving customers a voice you can create a fresh tier of advocates who will inevitably appreciate the love. Offering loyal fans or customers the mouthpiece with which to leverage a role as brand champions can be the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship.

I am proud to blog for Marketing Executives Networking group and an earlier version of this post appeared August 6 on MENGblend.

You Need A PR Playlist!

You probably have one to work out by, you may have made one when your last romance ended, or for your last vacation. But have you thought about a PR-themed playlist? Herewith, we present our take on the first few songs that might make up an industry list, curated to represent prime times in a PR professional’s life. It’s all there: the highs of winning a piece of business or scoring an exclusive, and the lows of ending a client relationship or watching a competitor get the story that should have been yours. Feel free to download our choices and add favorites of your own.

You’ve been awarded a plum PR assignment without having to submit a proposal. Because of it ubiquitous airplay on TVLand, “Golden Girls” gets a new, younger audience every year and an appreciation of its very sweet song about friendship and gratitude, “Thank You for Being a Friend” – Thank you for being a friend/Traveled down the road and back again/your heart is true you’re a pal and a confidant.

You face a killer deadline pulling together new business decks or an executive presentation. You have to have faith and persevere. So, turn to R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” – That’s me in the corner/ that’s me in the spotlight losing my religion/ Trying to keep our view and I don’t know if I can do it/…oh no I’ve said too much…haven’t said enough.

You leveraged a news hook that earns incredible exposure! Pharrell’s “Happy” still says it well, but for an alternative, look at Pink’s “Get The Party Started.” We’ve all felt this exhilarated – I’m your operator/you can call anytime/I’ll be your connection to the party line/I’m comin’ up so you better get this party started.

You and your team have prepared the most awesome results report and can’t wait to present it. Who besides Kanye could craft a song that expresses this powerful feeling? His “Power” declares No one man should have all that POWER/The clocks tickin’ I just count the hours/Stop trippin’ I’m tripping off the power.

Your client has ended a long term relationship without a solid explanation. We all know how to behave professionally and move on, but, just for a minute, you can safely indulge in anger with music. Turn to the CeeLo Green hit euphemistically known as “Forget You,” or, check out the latest from Benmont Tench, “You Should be so Lucky.” You should be so lucky/you should be so sly/as to take my fancy/as to strike my eye/yeah you should be all that/and you should have such stuff. (Last line here.)

11 Blogging Tips For Busy Perfectionists

“I have no time.” “What would I say?” “How could I keep it going?”

These are questions that staff, clients, and colleagues have asked about maintaining a business blog. And they’re all fair questions and objections. Blogging isn’t always easy. If it were, everyone would do it. And even though it may seem like everyone is, blogging has dipped a little since its heyday, and blogs aren’t quite the community hub that they once were.

But as outlined in a previous post, “6 Reasons PR People Should Blog,” it has many personal and professional benefits, particularly for communicators. As a follow-up, I promised some tips that have worked for me over the past six years. Because I’m not well versed in the technical aspects of blogging, and it’s a branding tool to support my PR business, it’s written from that perspective. (There’s a ton of great advice on blogging for profit, but this is not that.)

My advice is strictly based on first-hand experience, some of which may conflict with conventional wisdom, so — as they say, your mileage may vary.

Decide on your scope, and stick to it 95% of the time

My blog is naturally about PR, and I almost never deviate from the broader PR or communications industry. I’m often tempted to stray into other areas – parenting, politics, or recent experiences, good and bad, with big-brand companies. But unless there’s a clear PR hook, those topics represent a slippery slope. (Yes, customer service is increasingly linked to PR and reputation, but you can only grouse so much about the cable company.) To slide there would negate the business benefits of the blog and the reasons for investing the time.

But I say “95% of the time” because even a tightly focused business blog can handle a personal or off-topic post once in a while. I recall the first time I saw Laura Sholz’s first post about her struggle with depression, which really stayed with me, precisely because I’d only known of her updates about professional matters. But that’s an exception that proves the rule. One of my off-topic bugaboos is perfectionism, which is surprisingly common among PR professionals. (Hence, this post’s title.)

Don’t worry about an editorial calendar

I know, I know, an edcal is Rule #1, and it works for most bloggers and staff teams. For whatever reason, it’s never worked for me. I need to be reacting to another post, or the communications aspect of a news item, or an issue that’s arisen in the course of our work for clients. A schedule is not motivational for everyone.

But do keep a folder of great blog ideas and posts you envy

Or blurb a few lines into your wordpress (or other) dashboard and save them before you lose the thread. The challenging thing about blogging as a business owner is that, when inspiration strikes, you won’t necessarily be able to drop everything and pound out a post. It pays to capture key phrases and the emotions or questions that triggered the idea for the post right away.

Start in the middle

Beginnings are hard, especially for us perfectionists. It’s sometimes helpful to jump into the post and save the intro paragraph and polishing for later. Everyone skims it anyway.

Create posts that you’d read

Yes, you should consider your “target audience.” But if your first objective is simply to get moving, ignore the advice to create a “persona” through a deep analysis of your ideal prospect’s hopes, fears, dreams, and what car they drive. This works well for inbound marketing, perhaps, but if productivity is your goal, try blogging for yourself.

Take inspiration from other blogs

Some of my colleagues don’t do this, for fear they’ll be accused of copycatting. I think they’re missing the point, which is to enter the conversation. It can start with a single post and go on for days or weeks through reactive posts from different individuals. Just make sure you add something new and fresh to the dialogue, or advocate a specific point of view, and link to the original post.

Don’t be discouraged by few comments

If I had a dollar for everyone who’s told me they read or liked a post but didn’t comment, I could retire. In general, people don’t have time to comment, or they don’t have a strong feeling about adding to the conversation. Know that it’s okay if you’ll never be Brian Solis or Mark Schaefer. But you can gather inspiration from them and others (and cleverly link to them to show your good taste.)

Break it down. Less is always more

Example: I started the last post by sharing a couple of tips, then segued into reasons for PR pros to blog, then realized that it could stand alone, with tips or ideas serving as a follow-up. This happens all the time. Many posts are actually two or more, and it’s far easier to unpack a smaller, simple idea than to race to cover the map.

Don’t worry about repeating yourself

I used to steer clear of a topic for months after blogging about it for fear of being redundant until I realized two things: First, most website and blog visitors are first-timers. (Check out your site analytics if you don’t believe me.) Second, most people read or scan scores of posts weekly, so they’re unlikely to focus on a preoccupation with, say, misperceptions about PR, or the missteps of large agencies, to name two of my favorites. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should repost the same update, unless it’s clear that it’s from the archive and it’s newly relevant.

When you’re out of ideas…

Browse your industry-focused google alerts for interesting developments. Scan the top blogs in your area, trade newsletters and communities, or blogs about adjacent industries (for me, this means marketing or advertising.)  Look at your own meeting calendar and review the issues that arose in the past six months. Ask employees, clients, and vendor-partners what’s on their minds. Beg a colleague to do a guest-post. Or, write a post on trying to come up with ideas for a post. Others will relate.

Save the headline for last

I know, most people will tell you to blog to the headline, but my posts tend to wander, and why waste a perfectly good update just because it changed in the writing? I like to save the heads for later also because I invariably struggle with them, and if I wait until the headline is perfect, nothing will ever be written. You’ll note that the head above is long and bumpy, but this is about getting it done, not getting it perfect.

A final note for perfectionists (added after this post was published.) Blogging is ideal if you’re a compulsive editor. Remember, you can always update!

Making PR A Priority In The C-Suite

As PR execs strive to  keep public relations front and center with CEOs, consider some “prep work” that will make the case to decision-makers and keep smart, results-driven PR in the forefront.

What  defines executive-championed work? Programs that support leadership goals, like enhancing corporate reputation and increasing sales or profits. Issues that resonate with the chief executive. To successfully sell in a PR campaign,  all of the above should and can be addressed in a proposal.

Find out what matters to leadership. Some simple sleuthing will help determine leadership’s feelings about PR and how involved they have been in the past. Play to a CEO who likes the spotlight by bolstering a thought leadership campaign. You can also determine how a CSR program may best flourish by ferreting out a pet CEO cause.

Seek input from others who matter – even known naysayers.  Talk to other key staffers who have “touched” PR at the organization. Do this ahead of time so you can benefit from their experience and are  prepared to deal with anticipated objections.

Design the strategy to reflect what has been learned. Tie objectives, strategies and tactics to key learnings and research for an airtight presentation to senior management.

Create reasonable expectations. CEOs need KPIs! Without overpromising, present a thought-out recommendation with clear, manageable expectations for results.
Be willing to compromise and yes, even sacrifice. It helps to present more than one (well thought out) option, know the risks and be very clear on the objectives.

Marshall all resources. Does it make sense to have presenters from other teams help make the case? Be judicious but absolutely consider strong players with successful track records to join in the presentation.

Demonstrate skills and “stickiness” —  an ability to keep the audience tuned to the presentation. Present creatively, forcefully and briefly! Make each message count by offering compelling visuals, meaningful examples and ideas that can be easily grasped without a lot of explanation.

Have the four “A’s” in your back pocket.  Speak C-level language and offer up a plan that includes the following: a needs Audit, a sound Approach, detailed Action plan and a methodology for Analytics.

Seven Useful PR Hacks

“Hack” has meaning for many communications pros beyond those dedicated to technology PR. Sadly, the word also appears with “PR” in many negative contexts, but that’s not our goal here. In the spirit of its most positive connotation, we offer up some of our best PR hacks, or clever workarounds that beat standard formulas for solving problems or saving time.

First, use the existing hacks. It helps to mine HARO, Profnet, Muckrack, and Sourceful. You can learn a lot about prospective media contacts with a little strategic sleuthing. As journalists post to the different query sites, they reveal bits about their interests, deadlines and even how they like to work. Read each query like a detective and use it to perfect the next pitch.

Don’t waste time with press releases. The next time you have a news nugget, spend 10 minutes thinking about where you would logically see the story or item, then pitch for an exclusive. You can always do a wide release later if things don’t work out.

Record high-level client briefings. For briefings with senior executives short on time, sessions with sound-bite-prone spokespersons, or briefings by technical staff, a simple recording can save time and hair-pulling later.

Send at least one “non-pitch” note each day to a media contact. An email complimenting a recent story, link to a relevant post, or other non-sales-oriented note or tweet can go a long way towards developing new contacts or creating new ones.

Use the subject line. Yes, everyone knows this, but many of us don’t think hard enough about making a subject line compelling or specific. This is particularly important when emailing busy client executives or media contacts who receive thousands of emails…and who doesn’t?

Turn off email notifications. In our business, as in many others, internal email is overused, interruptive, and distracting. If you can’t bear to disable your notifications, let your team know you’re finishing a document and will be offscreen for a couple of hours. Productivity will skyrocket as a result.

Publish or perish. Getting published is not only doable, it’s necessary.  We all know the drill here, and what we do for clients we can do for ourselves. Develop newsworthy topics and angles and pitch yourself. A byline or guest post will improve “street cred” who may think of you only as a hack or worse, a flack (but that is another blog post!)

7 Reasons Why PR Pros Should Blog (Updated)

For public relations and other agency professionals, blogging may be natural, but it isn’t always easy, particularly if you have a full-time job or are running a business. I love to write, feel reasonably confident in my blogging, and held editorial positions early in my career (where all I did was write.) But even so, there are days when coughing up a brief post feels like drudgery, and when my husband is my most loyal reader.

So, why do it? Business blogging has changed fairly dramatically in the six short years since I started. It seems like everyone’s into content marketing, so it’s much harder to stand out. Also, the role of the content blog as a community hub has diminished in favor of social media platforms. Today, people are more likely to be commenting on Facebook, Instagram or Medium than on your blog page, so it’s less likely to result in the gratification of lots of comments. And blog comment spam is so out of control that super-blogger Chris Brogan recently closed down his public comment function.

Even so, I think the predictions of blogging’s death are premature. It’s vital for communications pros to understand the mechanics of blogging, and to be able to jump in when needed. Also, for those of us in PR who counsel clients about it, it helps to have done it. We’re familiar with the challenges as well as the upside. A blog is also an extraordinarily valuable tool for a business owner. Here’s why.

Fresh content drives SEO. High-quality, searchable content is a part of any good PR or marketing campaign, and increasing your blogging is probably the most painless way to update content without thinking about it. What it may lack in precise targeting, it can make up for in frequency and regularity.   

A blog is a key sales tool. Content extends a company’s selling proposition. Yes, there are other ways to push out content more proactively, but an industry-focused blog is the most organic way to get your message out. In our business, the talent of our staff is what we’re selling. So, why not highlight that talent and how we think, create, and work on a weekly basis?

A blog is a great recruiting tool.  Direct, unfiltered contact with important constituencies is key to a professional services company, and in our business, finding talented staff is sometimes harder than finding great clients. Since we’ve upgraded our blog, we’ve noticed a measurable increase in the quantity and quality of unsolicited resumes from new and recent communications graduates.

Blogging feeds your social stream. Finding relevant content to share on social networks is made easier with a steady flow of blog posts.

A blog is good brand PR. It shows that someone’s home. When browsing the sites of creative agencies, or just about any company, most of us note if there’s an up-to-date blog.  It says you’re plugged in to industry issues and events, and it inevitably leads to additional visibility opportunities in the form of speaking invitations and content sharing within other, relevant professional communities.

Blogging is a terrific discipline. I think of it like working out. You may dread it, try to avoid it, or occasionally even hate it. But when it’s done,  it’s a beautiful feeling and a very empowering step that propels you on to the next thing.

Blogging helps crystallize thinking on key issues. Once I started blogging regularly about some of the big topics in our industry, like outcomes measurement, or content marketing, I found it far easier to articulate a POV to clients and prospects. Similarly, a ripped-from-the-headlines post about the latest brand crisis has a way of forcing you to go beyond a superficial read of the situation, so you can wind up more well informed and confident in your judgments.

In subsequent posts, I’ll look back over the years and share the best tips for maintaining a business-focused blog, based on firsthand experience.

Slow Summer? 7 Ways To Create PR Opportunities

In the PR agency business, summer isn’t always slow. It’s actually a favorite time for prospective clients gearing up for fall campaigns to seek out agencies and create RFPs. For other companies, however, the late summer weeks can drag. But even when your business has no new product to introduce or partnership to promote, there are stealthy ways to generate buzz. Sometimes, it just takes some extra creative thinking or research. Please see below for some ways that thoughtful, strategic PR can create and seize some media opportunities.

Look to the zeitgeist! Are you scouring the news for trend stories, events and other ways to leverage a fit for your company or brand? Has a news report on “green living” sparked an idea for your eco-friendly service?  Is there a celebrity birthday (even of a deceased personality) that could present a newsworthy opportunity for a company in the gifting space? Do the retail experts at your firm have a position on a “back-to-school” study or other selling season? Check it out.

Take advantage of timely travel. Don’t let a company exec travel out of town without trying to score some background interview interest. There may often be a good reason why a Buffalo paper may want to interview a Baltimore CEO, or why a new product category is particularly relevant to a fast-growing city like Atlanta. Find that link, and you’ve generated some unexpected, yet welcome coverage for your company.

Create a robust bylined article campaign. Now is a good time to review “evergreen” editorial opportunities for your senior management to share wisdom and insight. On the B2B front, research the outlets that are most applicable to the industry you’re working in and match some thought-provoking topics on which your CEO or other leader can wax brilliantly. For brand PR programs, summer is a good time to check in with customer advocates or bloggers to plan new program.

Walk the halls.  Literally or figuratively, check in with various different departments like HR, Sales and Product Development to see what compelling projects they are working on that could lend themselves to media interest. There are under-reported stories everywhere!

Similarly, get out of the office! Insights from partners and stakeholders – like field sales reps, distributors, and others – can inform future programs.

Calling all contacts. Or sending a quick note to members of your media contact network and see where your company spokespeople can act as expert source and authority for stories in the works. A small gesture can strengthen media relationships and offer future opportunities for inclusion in upcoming coverage, or establish internal experts as background sources for category features.

Review your content. Now is a good time to dream up new ways to repurpose portions of that year-old white paper, or plan a fresh editorial schedule for the fall.
If all else fails, take a break! You’ll be relaxed and recharged when things get busy.

Can PR Firms Have Principles?

One maddening trope about PR professionals is that we’re fast and loose when it comes to truth, transparency and ethics. There’s an image of a morally dubious flack who slavishly serves client goals, even when questionable. Then there’s the cliche of the ethically agnostic mega-agency that rakes in millions by catering to corporate interests that may not serve the public.

But, hey, maybe we do have principles. Ten major international public relations agencies have told The Guardian they will not accept clients who deny man-made climate change. These Green Ten include many of the world’s largest PR firms. (Notably absent from the list were Edelman, the leading independent agency, which represents The Petroleum Institute, and Hill & Knowlton Strategies.)

The report set off a minor furor in PR-land, with many applauding the move (and questioning those who failed to join the pledge), while others blasted it as myopic or cowardly. Some even compared it to censorship or McCarthy-era blacklisting.

The blacklisting comparison seems wrongheaded, because, at least in theory, any service business has the right to choose its clients. It’s a decision we make every day, although it’s typically driven by more practical matters like budget, scope of the opportunity, and appropriate staff experience.

But the climate science stance by the large agencies is different because it rests on a blanket principle. (It also hits a nerve by wading into the perilous waters of a deeply and bitterly politicized issue in the U.S., but we’ll get to that.) In the PR biz, there’s an ongoing discussion about ethics, but it has largely to do with how we go about our work for clients, emphasizing transparency and condemning deceptive “astroturf”-style practices. Ethical standards governing how we actually choose client partnerships, and the implication that we have a moral obligation to represent a certain kind of client, have generally not been part of that debate, assuming that client companies operate legally.

But should we wear our principles on our sleeves? That requires some unpacking. The stance is good for PR in some ways. First, it acknowledges the influence of the global PR establishment in the policy debate about climate change, and by implication, other significant public affairs and issues. It also casts PR agencies as potential advocates for change who are actually driven by principles rather than passive drones in the service of client goals, or –  more damningly –  hired guns ready to switch sides for a fatter paycheck. Yes, some of us see a “green” other than the almighty dollar!

And it’s heartening to hear that the largest agencies are willing to go on record about their stance, given the complexity of global client relationships among multinational firms and the risks of alienating somebody, somewhere.

But even as I applaud the move, I see the slippery slope. An ethical stance about the positions of client companies, even on an issue where the science is overwhelming, sets a precedent. What about the many clients who acknowledge human impact on climate but still oppose environmental regulation? What about clients who embrace genetically modified organisms? Companies who sell legal yet dangerous products like tobacco or firearms? Retailers who profit from cheap labor?

And we often counsel client companies to steer away from hot-button political or social issues, particularly where they have no real relevance to the core business. That’s why most PR experts frown on a restaurant chain CEO coming out against marriage equality, or even a small-agency CEO like me tweeting in favor of gun regulation.

Many will say that the climate issue stands alone, because the scientific verdict is already in, and the peril we face ensures its relevance. I accept that, but I also know that even among those who accept made-made climate change, the implications are complex. Climate science and related policy are fraught with gray areas, and a corporate position will inevitably run into other, possibly conflicting business interests like the cost of regulation and the impact on jobs and profits. The agency “pledge” skirts all these questions.

Finally, a blanket policy bucks the longtime trend of PR reps as behind-the-curtain advocates for their clients’ positions, pushing companies to do the right thing, but remaining wisely silent should the client choose not to follow our counsel. It might even raise questions about the support of an agency partner when things get hot.

But it’s these very reasons that make me proud of the announcement. The climate science position is a line in the (eroding) sand, and like many such lines, it may move or be displaced.  At the core, it’s a symbol – a sign that concern about the climate is deep and that drastic action is needed. And yet another sign that public relations, as an industry, can have real influence and impact.

The storm evokes former PR executive Robert Phillips’ explanation for resigning his position at Edelman to forge a new path for public relations. As he puts it, “public relations is dead and public leadership is the way of the future.” There may be a fine line between sticking your neck out and having principles. But on this one, I choose to swallow my cynicism and count it as a display of something in short supply these days, both in our business and in our country. That is leadership.

Update August 8: Obviously feeling the pressure, Edelman, the largest independent PR agency, posted a statement on its website that it will not accept “client assignments that aim to deny climate change.” It had earlier told the Guardian that it accepts clients on a case-by-case basis. The Guardian reports that the agency “is unclear on its commitment to existing clients that have been involved in spreading doubt about climate change and fighting regulations to cut carbon pollution.” This seems to be a reference to its ongoing work for The Petroleum Institute, which is reportedly a $52 million client for the agency.

A Journalist’s View: 3 Questions From A PR Pro

There may be as many as 200 million blogs out there. Obviously PR pros can’t work with all of them, but there are some effective ways to work with top-tier bloggers, as well as practices to avoid in order to build better relationships. We asked Melissa Chapman about it. She wears a few journalistic hats, including penning her family and relationship blog, marriedmysugardaddy, writing for Staten Island Family, and contributing to Huffington Post. We posed three questions to Melissa and her enlightening answers are below:

The most important thing to remember when pitching a blogger is That you have read their blog posts. That you understand the content they deliver and their style. Also PR people need to understand that blogging is evolving into more of a content platform. So, for instance, just as a print magazine would do an advertorial type of post- that is a common practice for bloggers as well. And PLEASE don’t ever say the phrase PAY TO PLAY. Because it is NOT pay to play, being a blogger is a business and therefore business standards and rates should apply.

I automatically hit delete if I see Dear XX. That actually happens, and it would be inexcusable under any circumstances! A form letter is not professional. Don’t be so quick to hit send to 50 bloggers; take the time to make sure your pitch works and that you are addressing the right person. If the PR person didn’t even take the time to fill my name in the requisite slot- then that very same PR person did not take the time to evaluate if their pitch will work for my audience.

Can PR people help you increase UVM and other SM analytics and if so, how? I really am passionate about PR people finding bloggers who are true advocates for their clients and brands and working over the long haul developing meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships. By getting a blogger and brand to work in tandem with one another, incorporating social media as well- everyone’s bottom line and stats will do better.