My good friend Aliza Sherman has a great post over on Web Worker Daily about the evolution of the blogger relations model.

The model of “blogger relations” is one that is constantly evolving. I think that both sides are learning what works best for them.

Ideally, the relationship is symbiotic. We pitch, they write. Our clients are happy, their audience is happy.

I think that by bringing up alternative ways to engage bloggers shows a couple of issues at work. First is the blogger vs. journalist argument. Sponsored posts and such don’t work for the bloggers that are considered journalists. Being mindful of that, there are still creative ways to engage. Take the “media tour” of old. Instead of setting up in a metro daily’s conference room, we are bringing clients to coffee shops, neighborhood haunts and home offices to chat with this new era of influencer.

But there’s still room for the “traditional” model. Working with people who blog as part of a news reporting organization (news paper, online media etc…) The goal is to drive coverage for our clients while providing elements that are genuinely “newsworthy.” (what passes for newsworthy is another discussion) We can do so by engaging in a genuine conversation with our pub targets. My advice? I think a solid model looks something like this if you’re able to do it:

  • Obviously knowing your target is job one. Make sure they’re appropriate. If you have doubts, imagine what they’ll feel.
  • The difference between “please write about this” and “I would love to hear more about what you’re working on and how this can fit in” is huge.
  • Keep the relationship professional. This is hard. We know when our reporters get married, get fired or get scooped. But I think it’s important to keep the focus on the client and what your outreach brings to the table.
  • Be brief. Be right. Be gone. Keep your outreach focused and to the point.

So, what do you think? How is this model changing and how are we changing with it?

A word of advice: I am not a lawyer. Nor am I a registered financial adviser. This is my opinion only and should be treated as such. For guidance, consult your legal counsel.Originally posted at PRBreakfastclub.

If you are in PR, IR, corporate communications or social media, chances are you’ll run into fun rules such as Sarbanes-Oxley, Regulation FD and FINRA guidelines. One of these things these rules have in common is that they are behind the times.

But the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has taken a pretty large step in modernizing the rules that financial services companies must follow while engaging in social media and PR. You can download the FINRA social media guidelines as a PDF.

The big takeaways

The important pieces of this update are the changes to the definitions of static and interactive content. Under the new rules, “Examples of static content typically available through social networking sites include profile, background or wall information.” This information is treated like an advertisement and is subject to regulator approval processes.

Interactive content is a bit more flexible. Tweets, blog comments etc… are interactive content and do not require the approval of an approved regulator. One of the interesting challenges, however are the monitoring and archival requirements.”firms may adopt procedures that require principal review of some or all interactive electronic communications prior to use or may adopt various
methods of post-use review, including sampling and lexicon-based search methodologies as discussed in Regulatory Notice 07-59.”

Others are discussing these social media regulation changes and giving advice on how to proceed as well.

The big impact

I know this is a bit more heady than what we normally discuss, but it’s important. Our society is changing. The way brands interact with us is changing. And the need for the government to monitor those interactions is changing.

As communications professionals, we need to be able to provide sound guidance for our client. But at the same time we need to be innovative in our approach to engaging with our target audiences. To that end, the best advice I can give is know the rules and come as close to breaking them as possible.

Having a policy in place is also essential for firms looking to engage in social media. Having a set of rules that outlines approved interactions will help avoid confusion and potential violations. But in doing so, make sure you’re consulting your legal counsel.

The times, they are a-changin’…

Twitter has fundamentally changed our lives, whether we like it or not.

And people have written miles of books, blog posts and even tweets about best practices and what matters on Twitter. One of the biggest things that is almost universally agreed upon is to be genuine. So how do we as public relations professionals remain genuine when we’re asked to tweet about a client?

The precedent

Fundamentally you are free to talk about whatever the hell you want with your Twitter stream. It’s your content. It’s your copyright. It’s your reputation.

Your reputation? Yeah, your reputation. You put it on the line each and every time you post something to the public domain. When I hit publish on this post, I was subjecting myself to the judgment of past, present and future employers. It’s the same thing with Twitter.

If your precedent is to include links to client announcements or blog posts, then that’s fine. You’ve willingly shared that information. After all, without clients we wouldn’t be able to pay the electric bill so we could tweet, right? There is a conception that all posts in a social network should be neutral and objective. If you have a relationship, some feel it should be disclosed either up front or by using hash tags or other microsyntax. For example, James Governor from the analyst firm Redmonk uses “$client” to denote posts to his Twitter stream about his paying clients.

And that’s a judgement call you will have to make.

But what about when your employer says you must tweet on a client’s behalf?

Mandated tweeting

I see a potential for conflict when an employer mandates that an employee tweet on its behalf. Making a choice to share the announcement of a project you’ve worked on or a blog post from a co-worker is one thing.

Being told what to tweet and when to tweet it is another beast. The argument is that it’s not genuine. If you don’t want to post it, then why should you be obligated to? I’m all for being a team player. But sometimes you need to protect the community and precedent you have created. I don’t know what the right answer is. So, I’m asking you.

How would you respond to being given a pre-written tweet and being asked to post it? Would you? Why or why not?