I’ve been thinking about PR and blogs quite a bit lately after giving two presentations on the topic. For both I emphasized two general approaches: to understand and strategically engage the blogosphere, or the larger task of utilizing the medium yourself for promotion purposes. During one of the presentations I found myself giving several examples of how companies have successfully engaged bloggers. The first was the Sprint Power Vision Ambassador Program which is sending free phones to bloggers to generate buzz for their new multimedia phone technology. Another company, Soda Club, sent me a free soda-making machine to test for DCist. I know of at least one friend who purchased a machine as the direct result of seeing mine in action, and I have no idea what impact it had in DC after I ran the review. With over 10,000 hits a day and many more using the archive, even if they sold just a handful in the city their initial investment would have paid off.
The last example is one which has put me into a small ethical quandry. As a result of DCist I was added to the distribution list of addVice Marketing, a Brooklyn company that does outreach for several indie bands including Bloc Party. Their promotion work involved occasional emails with concert dates, photos, and MP3s (take notes kids — all of this is material for blogging) and also demos and new release CDs in the mail. For the CDs I found in my mailbox, I would take a listen and rip the tracks into my iTunes for the music I liked. Until last week I had no desire to blog about the music: it was either already heavily promoted on DCist (Bloc Party), or not exceptional enough to warrent mentioning. However they recently sent me a CD by a British band named the Guillemots that has piqued my interest. Their eclectic sound is quite good and I found myself listening to a couple tracks in particular — “Trains to Brazil” and “Whe Left the Lights Off, Baby” (you can hear both on the band’s Myspace page) I found it somewhat troubling that I would definitly not have heard of them until much later, if at all, if it werent’s some hipster MBA’s in Brooklyn. Alas.
Also, in the off chance some PR types come around here, I can’t resist listing some tips. As a result of my affiliation with DCist I have had the opportunity to witness a lot of PR professionals trying to work with blogs. I have a few suggestions:
1. Don’t send me a PDF or Word attachment unless the text of the document is in the email as text. And on that topic, I prefer plain text to gaudy rich text.
2. Don’t format your emails in an unprofessional manner. Just because email is “hip” doesn’t mean you can skip the a salutation and a brief note of introduction. Who are you, and why are you writing?
3. Don’t send me a press release. We will rarely publish them unless it is newsworthy in its own right, so just send me the who, when, and why.
4. Send links and photos. Virtually all blogs are a series of links explaining and interpreting information. It makes it easier for me (I can link to your site for more information) and provides me the raw material of the blog.