James Joyner and Jeff Mascott
May 9, 2007
As recently as two years ago, many bloggers considered receiving an e-mail from a congressman a thrill.
Unfortunately, it soon got out of hand and the novelty, to say the least, is gone.
One House committee e-mailed 48 press releases in January alone. The staff of one Midwest congressman sent out 28 that month, touting every public appearance, no matter how insignificant, on their boss’s agenda.
It’s doubtful such a scattershot approach is the most effective way to reach mainstream journalists; it is definitely not a good way to reach bloggers, who will quickly tag such e-mail as spam and never read it.
Here are seven tips to make sure you’re reaching bloggers most efficiently.
1. Bloggers cover stories that interest them, not all the news that’s fit to print.
A blogger who focuses on military affairs is not going to find a message about agriculture subsidies particularly useful. Understand what they write about and send only relevant information.
2. Bloggers are lone individuals with limited amounts of time rather than large institutions with a space quota to fill.
Blogs don’t have dozens of reporters looking for stories to break or editors to please. They are usually one-man or one-woman shows, trying to crank out a few posts while keeping their day jobs. So don’t repeatedly send them unwanted e-mail. Do this to a journalist at a traditional media outlet and they will simply ignore you. Do this to a blogger and he or she might write a post about how you have no idea how to communicate effectively.
3. Bloggers write about topics in their areas of interest from a particular point of view.
Unlike mainstream reporters, bloggers do not have to pretend to be objective. Target your e-mail accordingly. Do some research before reaching out in an e-mail; read their blogs and try to understand their point of view.
4. Bloggers need material for posts rather than quotes from both sides.
Bloggers are quite happy to get newsworthy tips or inside scoops on matters that interest them. A press statement from an obscure congressman demanding the release of hostages or opposing increased spending is not newsworthy.
5. Consider giving exclusives, especially to more prominent bloggers.
A blogger will appreciate the attention if he or she is given time with an elected official or access to exclusive information.
6. Bloggers aren’t party operatives.
Just because a blogger tends to support your party and ideology, don’t assume he or she will flack your talking points.
7. Less is more.
If you have sent out seven or eight messages before noon and something on the scale of the 9/11 attacks has not happened today, you have sent at least six or seven too many messages.
Sure, it’s a whole new world out there, with online communications and new avenues opening every day to share your key messages. But communicating effectively with bloggers is no different than communicating with anyone. The key is actually quite simple: Know your audience.