The long and short answer? Yes and no.
If you put that in a Google search, you’ll find that we’re absolutely correct!
When looking through my Facebook feed earlier this week (which is still trying to figure itself out as it serves up information upside down, backwards and from people I haven’t communicated with in years), I saw a post which was posed to a PR firm asking the question: “Should I treat online writers and bloggers like regular journalists?”
The firm responded with “yes.” Again, the correct answer is still: yes AND no.
If a person is an online writer or blogger tied with a media outlet, then, obviously, yes. One of the metro publications, the St. Petersburg Times, has staff journalists and writers who also blog. For instance, Stephanie Hayes is staff writer and reporter for the St. Petersburg Time and tbt*, but she is also one of the fab fashion pro bloggers behind tbt* Deal Divas.
In today’s social media world, everyone has a voice that may be heard. Some people may be heard by only a few people (read: family and close friends) and some will be heard by a couple hundred thousand. Bloggers are one of these voices. They are people who have an opinion, information to share and stories to tell. They are part of the community and some have their own mini-communities established. There is, however, a huge difference between blogging for a small audience and blogging for the masses. Also, some bloggers have no interest in being considered “media.”
Having a “me, me, me, hey, look at me” blog is entertaining, but not necessarily newsworthy or informative. I might learn what you and your family ate for dinner last night, but you may have failed to mention your views on the latest education policy which impacts your kids and those in the neighborhood. Also, blogging about your dinner may not necessarily spark conversation, unless someone knows you. Talking about the neighborhood? Now a few people can get in on the conversation.
Every blogger I’ve met (in person or virtually) who is worthy of being looked upon as media, is less about themselves and more about their audience. Yes, they share their opinions, their thoughts and their day-to-day happenings, but they take care to provide information that is worth the read to their audience. What does this do? This helps to build relationships, which increases readership, which makes everyone happy. (A great example are the ladies of BonBonRoseGirls, who understand the relationships they’ve created with their readers/audience, and also PR Couture, which is an information hub and knowledge center for fashion PR.)
Also, bloggers who deserve media street cred status are serious about their blogs. (The way that media are serious about their jobs.) Serious bloggers provide content regularly, respect the skill of writing and run spell check. (Good grief, it’s free! Use spell check!)
Admittedly, our blog doesn’t always do our readers justice when it comes to posting on a regular basis. For this reason, we would not try to attend the upcoming PRSA conference “for free” by trying to position our blog as a “media source” because we blog about PR and marketing topics (which are relevant to PRSA) and make claims to the overused “provide you with exposure” phrase. You know what that would be? Tacky. (And yes, the second line in this paragraph is a run-on.)
Let’s keep in mind that anyone can start a blog at any time. This doesn’t make you a journalist or online writer…yet (or may not ever). It makes you somewhat proficient with computers. (Read: It does not make you an internet genius.) When you have worked to build your audience, share valuable content and are showing love to your blog, you will come to be a coveted source for information. Readers will eagerly await your posts, and brands and PR firms will pitch you to cover them and/or their clients and invite you to attend their events. (Brands have found that sometimes bloggers who provide coverage can be better for them than the media.)
We’ll spare you one of the response posts that came from a blogger who commented on the “are bloggers media?” question. Let’s just say one of my writer friends said: “Auggghhhh! My eyes are burning from how jacked-up that Facebook exchange is! Ridonc.” The micro-blog post from that blogger was filled with typos and poor grammar. This would make a real journalist or writer crazy. It’s the reason I was sparked to write this post!
Keep in mind…we understand that everyone makes mistakes and typos happen. People are moving quickly, passionately and…wham, cyber typo spit. (Gross, right?) It happens.
Have you ever seen this from your metro newspaper or favorite magazine? Not likely. Why does it matter? If you don’t take care to spell correctly and use proper grammar, you may get personal and company names wrong, provide inaccurate information and then some. From an agency standpoint, now we are doing damage control, chasing after corrections, etc. and that’s just…messy.
Should bloggers be treated like media? Again, we say…the answer is: yes and no.
Agree or disagree?