The other night I went to the CIPR Fifth Estate/Bloggers’ Party, which was an event designed to give PR/marketing folk working in the charity sector some ideas on how to engage with those pesky blogger types. Darika from Grapevine Consulting gave a talk to raise some points on how social media could be harnessed to help charities spread their message, before a Q&A at the end.

At this point I chipped in to help answer a few questions, as did my esteemed colleague Gemma. It was interesting to note the range of knowledge of social media among the PR folk – some literally didn’t know how to start finding blogs related to their area of interest, while others clearly read blogs but were unsure of the best way to contact a blogger with related PR material. On this point Gemma soon made it clear that commenting on a post out of the blue with a related link was definitely not advisable.

It struck me at this point that engaging with bloggers does entail learning a new and foreign set of behaviours. Yes, comment on their posts – but only if you have something to add to the discussion. If you comment with a link and a tone that makes it obvious you’re just there to flog something, you’ll be sniffed out. Yes, email bloggers – but show that you’ve read their site, are interested in what they’re covering, have a little knowledge about the area. Hell, give them a little compliment if you liked something they wrote. But don’t start an email with “Hi guys” and expect a blogger to help you out.

I think the ensuing exchange was useful for a lot of people, although I got the sense that a practical demo of some of the things geeks like me mentioned might be required in order to “prove” to the third sector how easy it is to use free web tools to track brands, follow blogs and so on.

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