Do PR freebies equal blogger relationships?

There are dozens of PR folk who now blog – but should they be a target for blogger outreach programmes?

Check out this post: Molson Gives A Crash Course In Relationship-Building (via Judy Gombita) – which is presented as a great example of the beer company‘s PR team engaging with bloggers. 

For me it raises many of the questions raised by in-house PR practitioners regarding the investment of time compared to the benefits delivered. 

The cost of giving away beer to this blogger’s party is probably negligible – but was it really worth the time invested?  From a marketing perspective, did this tactic affect the future brand choice of the 20 or so people attending the party?  It seems like micro marketing, but is it a successful strategy to reach this number of people and are they really engaged with your product? 

Okay, the approach shows a willingness to engage in social media – and the follow up of BBQ booze via Twitter stimulated a post that getting the blogger to attend an event (reported on Molson‘s own blog as involving “20 or so 2.0-savvy folks”) did not. 

Does either the event or the follow up really deliver the message Molson wanted?  Are PR bloggers any more influential in supporting the company in achieving its aims than anyone else – online or off – who could be courted in this way?

What is the point of the company seeking to build relationships with bloggers?  Indeed, has the PR person really has built a relationship with this blogger?  Are bloggers that cheap?

I’m not very clear what Molson was aiming to achieve.  By all means look at bloggers as important influencers, where that is really the case.  But having a blogger outreach initiative purely for the sake of it doesn’t seem like good return on investment. 

So why are PR bloggers the target for this type of programme?  Do readers really care what we think about different brands or companies that are outside our area of expertise?  Is my opinion any more valid than the guy you overhear on the train or in the pub? 

Just because I can leave a digital footprint, is that worthy of a company’s time in targeting me?  Is this really the future for PR online?

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31 thoughts on “Do PR freebies equal blogger relationships?

  1. I had very similar thoughts when I was first invited to the Brew 2.0 event – “why on earth are they inviting me to this? What do they expect to get out of it?” I continue to wonder despite having asked them at the event itself.

    Here’s the thing, though – I don’t think that the people that read my site particularly care about what I think of Molson. However, I do think that they may be interested in the way the company is handling its outreach. What’s more, I think the people that came to the barbecue (who weren’t all bloggers) were impressed by their actions and are quite likely to mention it to others.

    To your point about whether they really built a relationship with me, if I had only attended the event I would say no. However, I’d connected with their folks through several social networks since that event so, while it was a short relationship (and hence their outreach for the barbecue may have been a little risky), I’d say there was still one there.

    This tactic might not work for everyone and it certainly wouldn’t work for every company out there, but I think it was pretty effective here in creating positive word of mouth for a company I wouldn’t have thought twice about previously.

    (On a minor side note, the Brew 2.0 event wasn’t just PR bloggers – there were lots of other folks there.)

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

  2. Thanks for raising a few questions related to the web 2.0 event held by Molson. The underlying question that you have raised is about what we were hoping to achieve. It’s as simple and transparent as we wanted to build some relationships. Relationships are core to our business and beer just happens to be a product that continues to evoke a lot of conversation on line and in other media. Its all about opening lines of communication, getting to know folks better and offering an opportunity for dialogue. I think Tonia and Adam and folks achieved that…thus a successful event.

  3. I just found this kind of blogger outreach in sharp contrast to the best practices described in the inaugural webinar hosted by CPRS last spring, which featured Eli Singer. (Which I heard nothing but praise for at the recent CPRS conference…many members indicated that they would like a second webinar by Eli, to find out ways/means blogger relations and other social media has advanced in the past year.)

    For one of the two case studies, Eli detailed a blogger outreach campaign by the Art Gallery of Ontario, centred around a special photography exhibit. (His work was pro bono.) The AGO reached out to bloggers who blogged about…photography…and gave them the equivalent of media access to a preview event. (I remember one of the other innovations was that the blogger was allowed to bring one guest, as it was felt that a blogger would be more comfortable attending this event if they brought along a partner/family member or friend. Most bloggers did bring a guest.)

    This initiative was a huge success, as many of the bloggers voluntarily wrote posts about how wonderful they found the exhibit. They were also allowed/invited to take their own photos of the event, and the organizers were very pleased to discover that the blogger-photographers took very unusual (i.e., unconventional) photos in regard to subject matter and angles, etc., as featured on the various blogs. (Many linked to the blogs/photos of other attendees.)

    Best of all was the word-of-mouth buzz about the exhibit. Attendance was way up from the previous one, and they could measure (to a fair extent) the impact of the photographers-blogger outreach on drawing in new audiences. (I attended that exhibit because of the subject matter; it was first-rate.)

    If the Molson crew (like Eli) had taken the time to discover local bloggers who focus on beer or food or event planning, I would find this campaign more credible. Getting to know bloggers just because they are bloggers?! That’s like inviting an auto journalist to an cooking show.

    And the free beer after the fact for a personal BBQ? I’m quite certain a journalist could get fired for accepting such a gift.

    Still, I’m sure a great time was had by all. Particularly when it came to the price.

  4. @judy First, thanks for drawing attention to my post, even if you didn’t agree with the content. I’ve noticed that a few times recently – I’m glad you find the posts thought-provoking.

    I agree with you on your point about targeting – those might have been better people to reach out to than I was. There were plenty of non-PR bloggers at that original event though, so while I can’t speak to whether they did that research or not, don’t assume that they didn’t from just this post and mine.

    As far as word-of-mouth goes, Neville Hobson wrote about this one from a PR perspective from across the pond: http://www.nevillehobson.com/2008/07/07/smart-blogger-relations. From the original event, Joey deVilla (not a PR blogger) wrote about the original event here: http://tinyurl.com/6hsvtj and Eden Spodek wrote here: http://tinyurl.com/5e62cr.

    Was this a perfect example of outreach? No. I would have changed some of the wording in the original pitch and I would have perhaps targeted the outreach differently. Still, while constructive criticism is helpful, I suggest we don’t sacrifice “good” in the pursuit of “perfect.”

  5. Judy, I hope you took the time to read Ferg’s comment. That’s the spirit of this thing: Molson’s PR team reaching out to people in the social media space that they’d like to build relationships with. This event is a far cry from Eli’s AGO blogger event and many other blogger relations examples out there. That’s the beauty of social media. Everything is niche, unique and specific to an audience and a particular objective.

    I advise Molson on social media strategy and had a hand in this event and the guest list. I’ll be talking to Molson about posting a full tear-down on my blog so we can show a little more of the thinking that went behind this particular event. To be clear, the event included a very tight group of PR bloggers, photo bloggers, food/drink bloggers, etc.

    Heather, I’m not sure if you’ve got the answer to all your questions in your post, but you can contact me or Ferg and we’ll be happy to lay out the rationale for publication.

    One thing to keep in mind though, is that this was Molson’s PR team, not the brand marketers. This team is very active in social media, so what’s wrong with them seeking to develop relationships with their PR contemporaries in the social media space?

    The simple fact is relationships take work. Someone has to take the first step and give something without the expectation of anything in return. Go ahead and ask any blogger who attended if they were asked to blog about Brew 2.0 or talk favourably about Molson. There was no ask, no pressure, just good old-fashioned getting to know you over some Canadian and imported beer.

  6. Hey Judy, i’m the originator of the event and wanted to clarify a few things in your post.

    Our activity was in fact VERY targeted. We aimed to invite people who may not otherwise be exposed to beer – i.e. consumer, fashion, lifestyle and marketing bloggers. We also included food and beverage folks in the mix, though for them the evening was more of a refresher course than anintroduction.

    The inspiration for this event came from a similar event held for Molson employees called the Beer MBA. During the MBA session I learned so much about beer and the brewing process that I felt compelled to share it with others. It’s exciting. Our goals for this event were modest – gain an audience with people who didn’t previously have us on their radar and expose them to our world. It’s not unlike an old time PR approach of taking the new beat reporter out for coffee to see what they’re interested in and how they like to work. There was/still is no expectation for those who attended to post about the event or our beer – good, bad or indifferent.

    From a personal standpoint, I’m the new guy in the social media neighborhood and am eager to learn from those who live here. What better way to meet your neighbours than by inviting them over to your backyard for a social evening? In the conversations I’ve had with those who attended since it would appear that our activity was successful. Could our approach be fine tuned in the future? No question. Was it worth the time/effort? No doubt.

  7. I was at Dave Fleet’s bbq, and I’ll tell you – I mentioned Molson’s blogger outreach and the beer they provided to any of my friends and co-workers who asked me about my weekend, and stuck around to hear my story.

    I think Molson is generating word-of-mouth and good will through the program.

  8. > “We aimed to invite people who may not otherwise be exposed to beer”

    What made you assume these folks weren’t exposed to beer? If anything, most PRs I know are quite well-versed on that subject. ;)

    > “It’s not unlike an old time PR approach of taking the new beat reporter out for coffee to see what they’re interested in and how they like to work. There was/still is no expectation for those who attended to post about the event or our beer – good, bad or indifferent.”

    > “One thing to keep in mind though, is that this was Molson’s PR team, not the brand marketers. This team is very active in social media, so what’s wrong with them seeking to develop relationships with their PR contemporaries in the social media space?”

    I would agree with you on that point in targeting food and beverage bloggers. But PR bloggers? I don’t blame you for giving it a shot – but as a reader of those blogs, I do blame the bloggers for getting sucked in by their own game if they then use their blog to in any way hock a product not targeted to me as a reader (and I’m not saying that’s what happened – but what potentially could, and why this might not be the best kind of targeting). Expectation or not, I don’t think any of us (or you) is naive enough to think than free beer won’t get people talking. If you knew that they absolutely wouldn’t be talking about it, I highly doubt you would have reached out to the groups you did (I don’t buy for a second that this is just PR folks reaching out to PR folks – if that were the case, they wouldn’t have to do it through their company or client, but in a professional networking environment).

    I think the original post could have been summed up as “Hey, someone gave me shit, so now I’m blogging about it. Wow – that was brilliant.” In reality though, what Molson did was nothing new; nothing special in the social media realm. Had they done that, I would see absolutely no problem with PR bloggers specifically covering the issue, and sharing the experience with others in PR.

    Just my $.02.

  9. … and for goodness sake, people need to STOP tacking “2.0″ onto everything. At this point it’s old and screams “late to the game” (not to mention that it just isn’t cute anymore).

  10. Heather (and all) – What a great discussion this is. Thanks for firing it up.

    I was at the event and, as a marketing guy (CEO of Tripharbor.com, co-Founder of mesh, former CMO of Expedia.com) I have to say that I thought it was an excellent event. It was really well pulled together, the tone and content was very well done (a nice, light touch), it gave folks who were there an “experience” worth talking about and further exposed Molson to social media as a part of their communications strategy. Frankly, from my perspective, I don’t know what else anyone would have wanted from it – connections were made, Molson products and knowledge was shared with folks for whom it may be of interest, online word of mouth was generated in an authentic way, and everybody learned a bit about how this all “works.”

    All I’ll say is that I wish more agencies and clients would try something like this. My view: good on all involved.

    - Stuart

  11. A few questions for the Molson folks if anyone would be so kind as to weigh in:

    1. Of the bloggers that were invited to the event, did any of you have any kind of connection to them in the past? For example, have you had past interactions with them on the blogosphere through your, or their, blogs? Do you follow each other on Twitter, or converse at all that way? Have you networked at past events, exchanged emails, etc.? I’m not saying you did, or that you didn’t. I’m just curious how much of this was real blogger “outreach” in trying to meet and connect with new bloggers versus something else.

    2. You’ve said you didn’t “expect” any kind of blog coverage. As I believe I said earlier, I don’t buy that for a second. A) You don’t reach out to bloggers if you have no expectation of any kind of coverage from them either now or in the future – that’s kind of the point. And B) If there’s genuinely no expectation, you don’t draw attention to it by insisting that there isn’t any (which is what it sounds like folks did). You don’t mention it in any way, shape, or form. So obviously you were expecting, or at least hoping for, some kind of blog mentions (and kudos for getting that). My question is, if you were more overtly targeting coverage, who is the end audience you would have been hoping to reach, and in what way? That goes a long way to the targeting. For example, would your primary concern have been getting people talking about your social media efforts (in which case targeting PR and marketing bloggers isn’t an awful idea)? Or were you more interested in targeting bloggers who would be more likely to talk about the product to their blog readers in your target market?

  12. I’ll try to answer your questions, Jenn. For the first one, I’d say yes to all the above – there had been some prior contact with several of the attendees (not all), albeit cursory – i.e. attended the same conference, followed someone on Twitter, etc. There’s a big difference between seeing someone’s name on an event brochure and sitting beside them having a meaningful chat in the flesh.

    To answer your second question, again our intent was not to generate immediate blog mentions, rather it was to establish ourselves as a beer resource for this influential audience. Now, should any of the attendees ever want to write a comment or post related to beer, they know they can contact us for any info., images or any other content they may need.

    We’re in no way interested in publicizing our social media capabilities, rather we want to ensure that we’re present, and can contribute somehow if possible, when beer or related topics are being discussed online.

  13. Okay full disclosure here: I’m a shopping/lifestyle blogger who is active in the social media community. I have worked in corporate communications most of my career.

    I wasn’t invited to Brew 2.0 because of my day job. In fact, most of the people who attended the event were not PR or marketing bloggers. (I know a few agency people who were invited but didn’t attend due to scheduling conflicts.) I also questioned my invite and asked David Jones why I was invited.

    Since I don’t drink beer, I was very curious to see what the Brew 2.0 was all about and how the organizers would treat me. Besides, I’m always interested in how companies are conducting blogger outreach so I attended and I’m glad I did. The people were friendly, I learned more about Molson’s products and beer than I ever could have imagined and the food was delicious. I even had a few sips of beer.

    Brew 2.0 was one of the best examples of blogger outreach I’ve experienced for one simple reason: it was mostly the company doing the outreach! Molson’s definitely hosted this event and they did most of the follow-up with the bloggers.

    I’ve been blogging for almost two years and very few companies have commented on my posts and when they do, they do so anonymously and/or in corporate speak (a dead giveaway for anonymous posts). I was impressed when Adam left a comment on my blog and it was written in a natural, not scripted manner.

    It’s so refreshing to see Adam and Tonia actively participating in the community. We’re a friendly bunch (even when we’re critical). It’s much smarter and safer for the Molson’s PR team to learn how to engage in this space with us first before branching out.

    In my other experience, it always a company’s PR firm doing most, if not all, of the outreach. In my humble opinion, the PR firms should be guiding their clients and helping to build a strategy. At the end of the day, it’s the company that needs to be engaging in dialogue with bloggers and their other customers/stakeholders online, if they want to do it well. Brew 2.0 was a great start.

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  15. Thanks to all the many visitors from Canada – I’d read in last week’s news that those of us in the UK were being targeted to relocate – but no free beer was mentioned.

    Seriously, I think it is positive to see the PR team at Molson getting involved in blogger outreach – and agree, it is vital for inhouse teams to “build relationships” rather than simply outsource to a consultancy. Of course, only they can judge if the time and resource investment is worthwhile compared to other demands that busy PR teams face.

    Whether or not those attending Dave’s BBQ were impressed with what Molson is doing doesn’t seem to me to be that relevant – although of course, we can argue that so few companies are really engaged in social media, talking about what they are doing may contribute to a reputaton for being innovative, etc.

    Will the party goers, such as Rick, really have developed a new perception of Molson – let alone changed their beer brand choice on the back of the fact there was free beer? Probably not. Maybe the better question, is whether Dave, Rick or anyone else will now buy Molson on the back of the experience. Or did they just have something to talk about for a while?

    What I find interesting is the point about how the “freebie” blogger tactic might not work for everyone and every company. Absolutely right as there is a big difference in having a product to give away (ie marketing PR) and trying to engage bloggers in discussing more complex issues or less tangible products.

    It is easy PR when you can offer up a giveaway or event – my own specialist area is automotive, where again you have an attractive offer to engage mainstream journalists or bloggers with car loans or invitations to launch events.

    I know a lot of automotive PRs are now treating bloggers just like motoring journalists (often much to the chagrin of the latter). This isn’t terribly inventive. However, if it is effective at getting coverage (and both parties are happy with this), then why not stick with the tried and tested for online media.

    If we are to really engage with the medium and its potential, then the freebie option isn’t enough. The challenge (as with MSM) is to engage on issues such as the environment – or when your product is less exciting (such as breakdown cover or insurance). We need to look at what PRs are doing more in that area rather than simply sounding like a bunch of old motoring journalists or celebrity partygoers discussing the freebies we’ve managed to blag.

    Ferg – I take your point about wanting to build relationships – but to what end? Yes, the event gave an opportunity to build relationships – but what is the objective of building relationships. I will come back to the value of relationships in another post as I think this is something we need to focus on more robustly.

    Most relationships that are core to businesses involve some notion of exchange – offering a benefit to one, if not both parties – rather than being communal or altruistic. Let’s be honest – the conversations you’d like the bloggers to have about beer will involve saying nice things about the company – and giving you the benefit over any negative issues.

    That’s a pretty standard PR approach in terms of working with journalists since we all believe that once someone knows us, they’ll give us a fairer shot at good coverage.

    Simply getting to know people and giving away beer, without any ultimately tangible or intangible benefits should raise questions with our bosses. How are we evaluating the relationships we build and the benefit these offer?

    We also need to think about the ethical issues – it is rather disingenuous to suggest that nothing is wanted in return. That in itself is an ethical issue – what do shareholders think about PR giving away company assets for no return?

    If bloggers are building relationships with companies, then they have to think about using their “word of mouth” power in this way. Nothing necessarily the matter if there is some transparency – but where do you draw your line? Are you happy to be used in this way?

    Judy makes a good point about how blogger outreach can be more interesting than a get to know you event or giveaway, especially if the blogger is offered an interesting opportunity that enhances their own participation in the WOM medium – and delivers a benefit to the organisation involved.

    Adam – I can see that offering bloggers a chance to learn more about the company (and the PR team) is a valid activity, in the same way that facility visits are offered to any audience. As you indicate, it is great for employees to be better informed, so if you have identified bloggers as an interested party, then why not? And, as you say, it helps you as an individual get to know a bunch of people – which will presumably help both you and them in respect of future contact.

    I do think as PR professionals, we have an expectation from investing our time – even if it is not immediate blog posting. Otherwise, what is the point?

    Even when a single customer is able to undertake a facility visit (eg touring a car or chocolate factory), it is with a view to them being a repeat customer and becoming more of a brand advocate, ie moving up the loyalty ladder. Whether it is worth building word of mouth and sales a person at a time – MSM journalist, blogger or customer, is for the company to decide.

  16. Heather, brilliant post with some interesting questions. I hope you don’t mind but I have quoted some of your questions on my blog as I think they really do make you think.

  17. Thanks for the wrap-up, Heather. I can always count on you to provide a thorough and objective analysis, pointing out what worked, what didn’t and what is left ambiguous, all from a public relations perspective. Best of all, because you are a PR specialist (not a marketer, as some young students apparently mistakenly believed) from the UK, you can offer up an opinion that isn’t subjected to open or thinly veiled accusations of jealousy of not being included in the hand-picked bloggers invite list.

    For a lot of the individuals who commented here (or on other blogs where the author very quickly offered undiluted praise for the “blogger outreach” initiative) there is a vested interest: organization entering social media, agency of record adviser, invited blogger/guest to either this specific event or personal BBQ or bloggers who frequently accept/blog-about freebies. I think more “persuasive” communications would have resulted if the resulting online discussions were less defensive and included a recognition that (at least) some of the criticisms were valid. Plus that lessons would be taken to heart for the next initiative. (Adam had my confidence initially, but he did lose marks with the “next time you’re in Toronto beer’s on me” bit. Even with a smiley.)

    What can I say? I won’t be pointing to this social media initiative as a “best practices” one with my CPRS (or other) colleagues. And part of the reason for this is because I don’t believe much of the resulting conversation(s) were genuine or totally transparent. (It felt like there was way too much back channel lobbying.)

    I look forward to your coming post.

  18. Fair enough, Judy. Let me get this straight.

    - You start the conversation with a back-channel e-mail to Heather regarding Dave Fleet’s post.

    - The various parties involved come here to join in and give you their respective points of view and fill in some blanks/answer some questions.

    Your analysis now as a member of the Canadian Public Relations Society is that there is something wrong with this initiative because:

    - These parties don’t necessarily agree with the criticism or the “lessons” offered from someone whose sole understanding of the event was from one blog post and the resulting discussion on this blog.

    - People who were actually involved and at the event came to this post to offer their take because they were alerted to the conversation via a back channel e-mail. And that makes their input invalid.

    Judy, you’re tilting at windmills here.

    With all due respect to the august CPRS, I think a more valuable discussion will be had the next time the Blog Council meets and Molson can discuss with its peers who have faced similar challenges and criticisms in the past and may again in the future.

  19. As a former beer marketer (not PR person) for Molson’s direct competition in Canada, Labatt, I’d like to weigh in and say that this whole event is standard beer marketing. As employees we were constantly given “beer chits” and encouraged to bring Labatt beer to any parties or BBQ’s we were attending. The beer companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on in-bar events where they hope to impact a few people into becoming hooked on their brand. Yes, it’s all worth it because the margins in the beer business are razor thin and a rainy day during patio season can hugely impact profits… as well as part of beer marketing is to gain brand loyalty. Sending a case or two of beer to a guy who has a large circle of friends is hardly a big deal or outside the norm.

    For the record, I was invited to both Brew 2.0 and to Dave’s BBQ. Unfortunately I was unable to attend either.

    Talk about mountain meeting mole-hill with this post.

  20. Judy/David – I don’t actually care about the vested interests regarding this activity as everyone always comes at something from a perspective. (And, yes my source on the initial post was Judy – but I reported that and certainly am no mouthpiece or puppet in terms of deciding what I will select to write about here).

    Whether or not those who were at the event agree or not with my opinion about the value of freebies within a blogger relations strategy is up to them. But my questions on the general principles (as I took them from the initial blog post) remains a valid reflection for PR practitioners who have to make decisions about where to spend their limited time and resources.

    Tamera – I agree with you that offering up freebies is a pretty standard FMCG marketing approach and ditto, holding an event to which you invite possible contacts or influencers is at least a century old as a business concept. The idea of building relationships and getting people to talk about your “products”, “sample” them and generally develop a positive impression undoubtedly dates to the caveman trying to attract a mate.

    In some ways that is my point – what Molson did doesn’t reflect some exciting new approach in PR. Whether or not a bunch of mates chatter about getting a free crate of beer is equally nothing revolutionary, even if the company sent it because they heard about the party via Twitter.

    Doing favours is no big deal – whatever form, they makes the PR world go round. There can be ethical issues – but generally that’s between the recepient, the sender, anyone reading about it – which may quite probably soon include the taxman.

    I still think there’s an issue in respect of how much time and budget is spent by the PR team on blogger relations. This is a question that I hear from PR practitioners a lot – they are already busy and wonder if engaging with bloggers is worthwhile. Clearly Molson feels its party for bloggers and monitoring their Twitter chatter has been a good use of resource, although it is probably too early to tell what the value of the relationships initiated will be.

    My initial question was whether freebies equal blogger relations and I still think the answer is no. Good relationships, with mainstream media, bloggers and other influencers requires much more than simply coughing up the freebies. In fact, from my experience there’s normally an inverse relationship between those interested in freebies and the value they offer. Ask anyone in automotive PR about the quality of media phoning to see if they can blag a large car for their family holiday this Summer.

    Ditto, I believe that a good online strategy that seeks to really innovate and engage with the blogging medium should involve much more than what I’ve seen in this example.

  21. Heather, I agree with you. Freebies do not equal blogger relations. However, I do think blogger relations entails a wide-spectrum of activities that may or may not include freebies. It all depends on the nature of a company’s business and their objectives. Only they can attest to it’s value.

    Judy, yes, I often write about bargains and the occasional freebie but does that mean my opinion doesn’t count? I’d like to think I’m more than a mere puppet of PR consultants and their clients who invite me to events or send me the odd product. As you may have read in my post, I am not a beer drinker. I literally had a few sips of beer. I brought my own coolers to Dave Fleet’s BBQ. As for my initial comment on this post, Google Alerts brought me here.

    I blogged for more than a year before I received any freebies. Swag was definitely not my motive for becoming a blogger nor is it what motivates me now. Sometimes it does help me become aware of companies, products or services that otherwise would slip under my radar. Isn’t that what blogger outreach is all about?

    Would I have blogged about Molson had I not been invited to Brew 2.0? Probably not, but I suspect some of the people who attended the AGO exhibit may not have blogged about had they not been invited to the exclusive event. As for them being allowed to take photos, that’s a given at any blogger event. Is there really a difference between being invited to an exclusive free event at the AGO and getting some free beer from Molson?

  22. As a blogger in a non-PR niche (political mainly, but also media, tech and to an extent some others) and I’d add a couple of points:

    You probably want an established blogger to help you map the ground – preferably from your own staff. If that sounds like a suggestion that organisations need to be liberal about allowing staff to blog – yes that is an implication. Learn from the English Government not the Welsh One, and makes your rules principle based no nitpicking and any guidance of the “quiet word” not “final warning” variety.

    I’d also suggest making it clear that you prefer anyone commenting to declare what hospitality (if any) they have had from you. Taking a blog approach from Day 1 will be well-received.

    There are some figures around about blog vs newspaper website UK traffic share that may be of interest.

    Rgds

    Matt Wardman

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