Everyone you talk to in the public relations industry knows that the field is evolving. The most often cited proof people point to is the fact that consumers have more power to share opinions with one another and the idea that "media" is shifting to include content created by regular people. If you do happen to work in the public relations field, and have your own blog … you will likely be familiar with the very strange occurrance of getting pitched stories for your blog. Usually in the PR industry, the only way that a pro could bring this type of experience to their job is by having been a journalist. We have many team members like that, but once they choose PR, they usually give up their journalistic role. Most bloggers continue to blog even as they do their day job.
This has led to a very interesting phenomenon which I would have to term "circular public relations." Put simply, this is the idea of getting pitched by a media outlet at the same time that you are pitching them. While it may not always be the exact same media outlet, the point is that in today’s world of PR, you can simultaneously be focused on earning media while you foster your own role as a media creator and get pitched by other PR pros trying to get featured in the media you create.
There are three different ways that circular public relations happens:
- Client coverage – This is the first and most obvious, which involves covering something that one of your client’s is doing on your blog. It does raise the obvious ethical questions about essentially whether it constitutes a slightly different version of blogging for pay … but happens frequently nonetheless. I will blog about something that a client is doing only if I think there is a marketing lesson within it that will be interesting for the readers of my blog. Luckily, I think I’m also not famous enough to have lots of clients asking me to blog about stuff.
- Media releases – Being included on media lists is an interesting experience with a good and bad side. The bad, of course, is that you can end up with many clueless pitches that shake your confidence in whether smart PR people even exist. The good is that you have a steady stream of content to learn from, as well as the knowledge of what is being announced in a particular industry (which is often useful competitive information).
- Blogscratching – On its most basic level, this is the blog equivalent of backscratching (coined by Guy Kawasaki, I think) where I blog about your thing and you blog about mine. It is essentially a trade, and though it may not happen on a one to one basis, this happens all the time in the blog world. It is coverage based on content and relationship. To a degree, it is this phenomenon of blogscratching that I am counting on to drive some buzz among my fellow marketing bloggers when my book comes out later this month.
Being the owner of a media property yourself clearly offers a lot of benefits to any PR pro who wants to do his or her job better. It gives you a chance to learn from other pitches, build relationships with other media that pitch you and give you a platform to help your client (assuming you are willing and the content fits). I wonder why more PR pros aren’t taking up blogging?