Eurobloggers are not the Brussels press corp

This entry is prompted by a recent post by Julien on his mistrust of Brussels PA/PR agencies and their attempts to connect with him; and an even more recent conversation I had with a consultant who asked how to best “harness” Eurobloggers (p.s. I told him to not hold his breath.) Yes, Brussels communicators are trying to engage with Eurobloggers to push their stories. Will it work? No. Eurobloggers aren’t journalists. They blog because they’re into politics. If pitching journalists is hard, pitching bloggers is much harder because they usually only have a personal, not a professional stake.

Lost opportunity? No, blogging is important, but for Brussels communicators, it shouldn’t be about the Eurobloggers, at least when it comes to a blogger relations strategy. It should be about getting clients to dip their toes into blogging etc. themselves and then trying to tentatively build relationships with people who write about their issue, not those most likely to be read by MEPs. As a consultant or communications adviser, your role should be guidance, not doing the blogging yourself.

Here’s an extract of the comment I wrote in reply to Julien’s post in which I describe in brief how best practice blogger relations should be carried out (and in turn how it should mean Brussels agencies won’t be pestering him for much longer!)

I work on social media strategies for clients… I can honestly say that my approach to blogging, Twitter et al (and ZN’s too) centres on how I can best help clients use the tools themselves… Why? Frankly, it works better… you’re far better off helping clients build constructive relationships themselves, and generally not with eurobloggers but preferably with issue or sector experts…(.)

Although some agencies no doubt make the mistake of simply transferring media relations to the web and seeking out people most likely to be read by legislators, I suspect this practice will fizzle out. Why? Because an article in the FT is undoubtedly worth more in “PR dollars” than a far better article in a relevant trade publication, whereas online, impact can be determined more by quality than by reach because of search, hyperlinking and aggregation.

To spell it out, here’s two (very simplified!) scenarios I could propose to clients (no prizes for which one I think is most likely to work.)

1) We’ll write a post on our blog saying you’re great. We’ve hooked up with Julien Frisch and the other 30 popular eurobloggers – maybe one of them will pick up your story (but don’t hold your breath, none of them have ever written about your issue.)

2) Your 3 experts could blog or tweet (assuming they want to.) We’ll help them out with the dos and don’ts, but they have to do the writing and it has to be honest. We’ll do some research to identify other people (academics, scientists, companies, pressure groups, students etc.) writing good content on your issue (whether for or against) and run them by your experts. In due time, we can add them to our blogroll, your experts could link to them in posts or comment on their blogs, and maybe we can build relationships with them if they’re interested, and hyperlink to their content or maybe even get them to be guest bloggers.

The difference is obviously that it’s the organisation’s experts and not the agency that is telling the story, and you’re promoting good quality content and interaction rather than throwing a story at someone who happens to have MEPs amongst his/her readers and hoping that it will stick… (.)


4 thoughts on “Eurobloggers are not the Brussels press corp”

  1. I broadly agree with you, but it depends what sort of audience you want to reach – if you want something even more specialist, even smaller in its reach than Euractiv or EUObserver, then a strategy to work with some EU bloggers might work. You can manage to generate a more detailed and nuanced debate around an issue among bloggers than you can with more traditional media in Brussels. Plus from time to time things can catch on – there might be an EU equivalent of the Atheist Bus Campaign…

  2. Yeah absolutely, but the key is to engage with the right bloggers for any given issue. What I’m saying is that agencies that try to engage on client issues with bloggers like yourself won’t get anywhere (I assume!)

    If they (or anyone else – media, a think-tank perhaps) were to try to engage on non-client issues where you guys have got a keen interest and expertise like, say, the make-up of new committees at the EP or the appointment of Barroso, I’m guessing you, Julien etc. might be interested. If an agency were to ask you to comment on (hypothetical) oil & gas giant X’s latest CSR initiative I’m guessing not.

  3. It depends if the message matches…

    Look at it this way: I have a daily readership of somewhere between 800 and 1200 unique visitors. Those people come to my blog, and keep coming back, because they know what they will get from me – centre-left, federalist, knowledge of the EP etc. It’s essentially a global microbrand – there are not that many people out there interested in that geeky stuff, but those that are more or less find me.

    So if you’re a comms person, what sort of messages might appeal to me? Something to do with the environment, green power, carbon capture…? From my own point of view I’m not going to reject messages from corporates *because* they are from corporates. I’m going to reject a message if it’s inconsistent with what I stand for, and inconsistent with what my readers expect from me. I’m probably more pragmatic in this regard than Julien is.

  4. Yes certainly, but I think we’re on the same wavelength i.e. when engaging in blogger relations, communicators should make sure they approach bloggers who are relevant to the subject matter (as opposed to those who have the “right” audience.)

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