One thing to come out of last week’s conference on how colleges can obtain publicity is that very few college and university PR people are pitching bloggers. We’re still trying to get our stories into a shrinking news hole in print, TV or radio. Meanwhile, more and more traditional journalists are also writing for their organizations’ websites. (Case in point: Newsweek science writer Sharon Begley, who was the subject of last week’s Friday Five. She’s posting a few times a week on her blog, in addition to writing for the offline version of the magazine.)
During one of the roundtable sessions at the conference, I asked how many at the table (a dozen or so PR pros) were pitching their stories to bloggers. Nobody was.
Why aren’t we pitching to bloggers? At the conference, I heard two primary reasons:
- It just hadn’t occurred to us. We don’t think of bloggers as sources for our news.
- Bloggers lack the credibility of traditional news outlets. We don’t think our supervisors, alumni, etc., will be that impressed by a blogger picking up our story.
At least colleges and universities haven’t gone to the extreme of some PR agencies that have been called out and publicly humiliated for routinely spamming bloggers. Still, there are plenty of legitimate blogs that would make tremendous outlets for our stories. They are influential in certain circles, and they can also become a vehicle to more mainstream media coverage.
Why not give it a try? But first, make sure you don’t send out something that could end up here. Know your audience. Be smart about your online PR approach, just as you are with your offline pitching.