Individuals blog to get their opinions out there. Corporations do it, too, except that their opinions are called "messages." The problem comes when corporations try to use blogs of individuals to promote their products. It is fascinating to read the machinations of marketing firms, who ask themselves, "How do we ingratiate ourselves with independent-seeming bloggers to sell more product?"
The bloggers are also in a bind: they need continuous sources of new items to keep readers returning, and corporations can easily provide "news" content. The blogger must distinguish between news and hype. Fortunately, some blogs examine news for hype, which itself becomes news, which marketing firms then recycle as hype... and so it goes.
Marketing firms have created Web sites devoted to pitching blogs. Examples of the how-to-market-to-blogs-without-making-it-seem-like-we're-doing-it articles include:
Ten Simple Rules for Dating Blogs
"How do we court blogs with an eye toward marriage? More important, how do we do it without getting stood up, dumped, burned, or publicly humiliated? Our reputations [as marketing firms], after all, are on the line."
How to Pitch Into the Long Tail News Curve
"1) Identify leading blog influencers.
2) Plant the seed with the bloggers.
3) Hit the mainstream press.
4) Regenerate the story with other bloggers."
Sneaky PR People Discover Blogs
"I've noticed a disturbing trend in the past year or so with PR people discovering -- but not quite understanding -- blogs. Some have a handle on it, but others miss the mark by quite a wide margin. This all became very clear last month when a PR person tried to convince me to write a story about a company he worked for -- without identifying the simple (and important) fact that he worked for them. I've written up a longer article about this experience and discussed the growing fascination PR people have with blogs -- and how both bloggers and PR people should respond."
Avoid the Intimacy Trap
"You [as a marketing person] may know a lot about the blogger but he or she knows nothing about you. So it's easy to become over-personal, colloquial or even slack in your pitch. This can come across as being forward, lazy or careless, even though that's not your intent."
7 Habits of Highly Effective Blog PR
"1. Never pitch, personalize.
2. Respect a blogger's time and intelligence.
3. "A blog is not about you, it is about me".
4. Quality, not quantity.
5. Feed the food chain.
6. It's no longer just about the [mainstream] media.
7. Keep learning."
Blog Relations... the gift that keeps giving
"These are the risks of blog relations. While in the past poorly targeted pitches to 'real' journalists were tossed in the bin, bloggers can be a little less unforgiving. The secret of success is preparation. Think before you click."
How Not to Pitch a Blogger
"Never put anything in an email to a blogger that you wouldn't want to stick on your own forehead for life!"
So, when you read stuff in a blog, keep in mind it may have been planted by a marketing firm, with or without the blogger's awareness.