If your PR strategy for and tactical approach to the blogosphere consists of treating A Listers like media, you can stop reading now. Don’t worry, this blogging fad will soon go away and we can all get back to the business of PR.
But before you start thinking this is the rant of someone with 2 subscribers sitting on the outside looking in, let me finish. In a solid PR ‘blogging strategy’, influencing A Listers matter very little. At the same time, A Listers can matter a lot when it comes to tactical implementation (marketing the blog.)
An effective blogging strategy needs to start with your client’s blog. If they don’t have a blogging mechanism you are better off spending your time pitching traditional media. You’ll be reaching a broader audience, you’ll be in your comfort zone, and you’ll be producing results your client understands.
But if you are interested in good proactive counsel, sit down with your clients (or your supervisor you enterprising AE) and talk to them about blogs. Don’t sell a blogging strategy as another publicity channel, because that’s missing the point. Sell it as a channel for staking a leadership position. Sell it as a means of customer research, as a means of reaching early adopters and others who are self-selecting as being interested in what you do.
If I’m an AE I pitch blogging to my supervisor as an up-sell opportunity, a way to deepen the agency’s client relationships, and offer added value.
In talking with clients, be realistic, tell them developing an audience can be a slow build. Offer to market the blog on your client’s behalf. Be responsible for finding other blogs that pertain to what you are selling and make good use of comments trackbacks. Here is where a little A List love helps, but not in a make or break way. If your client's area of interest overlaps with the posts of an A Lister, by all means make effective use of trackbacks. But don't shoehorn what your message to fit the area of interest of an A Lister (in other words don't ever get accused of being a troll).
Offer to add more value by serving as an assignment and copy editor for your client's blog. Walk your client through the process of creating a fast responding feedback mechanism, offer more value by managing and even supervising that process. Make yourself integral to the functioning of their blog and your client relationship will deepen as their view of blogging broadens (as it should in a well executed strategy.)
Research the risks and how to mitigate them. Define inappropriate content together and talk about how to handle that sort of thing.
Explain to your client how if done well, the blog will serve as a media relations and executive visibility tool. That by creating for the company a blogging personality or personalities with a track record of provocative and leading thought we simply have even more tools available to give media and conference planners what they need – quotes that help sell papers and live discussions that put butts in seats.
But most importantly, don't think of PR's role in the blogosphere as simply limited to pitching blogs as one pitches traditional media. Remember, A Listers don't matter nearly as much as you probably think. There's a reason Steve Rubel's practice is called Micro Persuasion which thanks to the spread of social networking tools makes micro persuasion economically feasible on a marco scale.