Talking to some of the PR bods at SNW Europe was enlightening and especially the fact their customers find it incredibly hard to know how to deal with the independent bloggers. In fact, some of them actually seem to be scared of us and would probably rather that we went away. So as one of these scary, random and opinionated independent bloggers; I thought I’d reflect on how I think you should interact with us or at least with me.
Now, I have no pretensions to being a journalist, a hack or any other kind of professional writer; I do this for pure fun and my own interest, a gentleman amateur may be? So for example, take SNW this week; although SNW picked up the bill for the hotel, flights and much of my sustenance; I was not paid and indeed I took leave from my day job to attend. Chris Evans who was also attending with me is self-employed and the days he spent at SNW were days when he wasn’t earning fees.
So first thing; you are interacting with ‘Martin Glassborow, blogger’ not with ‘Martin Glassborow, an employee of a large media company’; this is not your chance to try and sell to me in this role. Now obviously my day job does give you some context as to what I do and what my experience is but if you want to try to sell to me as a corporate employee, you would be better trying to book a meeting with me when I am on the clock. You can try to frame your product in a term of reference that you might think is relevant to me but to be honest, you’ll probably get it wrong.
Funnily enough, if you are trying to use my status as a blogger to try to influence my employer’s buying decisions; you are very misguided. I have little influence on those decisions but I do have influence on what my readers look at and consider. Admittedly my influence is probably quite low but I do have a fairly wide readership and for some strange reason, people seem to listen.
And may be that’s because I don’t just write about this stuff, I use this stuff; I think this is the core difference between the bloggers and most journalists. We have the scars from actually using products and these scars aren’t from paper-cuts. We can be a lot more critical and confrontational if you pitch something which is plainly stupid, wrong or just won’t work in our opinion. We are the poor suckers who might end having to make it work; we don’t simply move onto the next story. It’s not personal but we deal in reality, not press releases.
Yet even that statement is not really true, if you want to find out what the latest speeds, feeds and features of the latest products, I don’t really do that. My blog is my soap-box, it is full of opinion, conjecture and speculation; I write about my reality, not the alternative reality which is vendor wonderland. But my reality is certainly not everyone else’s.
When pitching to me as a blogger, remember that this is going to be a conversation and I will be expressing opinions; if you get this interaction right, you might well learn as much from me as I do from you. Certainly defend your position but don’t get defensive! By the way, most of the storage bloggers tend to be pretty smart guys and if they don’t get your product; you are probably pitching it wrong or you’ve just had an ‘ugly baby moment’!
I will often bring up rival offerings from your competitors; I’d prefer it if you didn’t look blank, didn’t just simply dismiss it as inferior or generally try to position your product as somehow unique. There are very few unique ideas about and many of those products which are in some way ‘unique’, there may well be a reason why this is the case.
As a blogger, I like to put things in context and not just as a product; for me, often the why is more important than the how. I want to know the question for which you believe your product is the answer. If I can’t see the question, I’m probably not going to blog on your product.
Anyway, just some thoughts which will probably develop on how to deal with this tribe of irritants which will hopefully grow; the independent blogger…or as EMC like to call them, Chad’s Reserves!