Blogger Relations

July 20, 2009

in Blogging, Mobility, PR, Storytelling

On Tuesday this last week I found myself in a learning lab at Fort Mason and then later out on the Marin headlands at…….. I’d been asked to be both fly on the wall and scribe. It was an opportunity to take a moment out, on my time and yet get exposure to thinking, reporting¬† and consider the evolution of blogger reporting and participation.

What’s the catch? So we are upfront, I was asked by Andy Abramson [@andyabramson] and Comunicano to participate in an evolution of the Nokia blogger relations program. I saw it as a unique opportunity to explore new issues when some on-site visits were presented to me. What captured my commitment was not the phones but the emphasis on mobile initiatives. To look first hand at how groups supported by Nokia (and in this case The Pearson Foundation and Lonely Planet) are working on innovative new approaches to how we learn.

Mobile Social is definitely my interest area and yet the chance for me to see school kids in action creating documentaries and understanding more deeply the impact of mobile on education forced me to both wrestle with what was I doing there and considering how I would end up more informed.

I’m a big believer in synthesizing things and jumping at opportunities that may at first seem a “why should you do it” or using them to start new conversations. I think there is a new program in the making and perhaps even I’m part of an experiment on how to take Blogger relations to the next level. I realize some debate may ensue. Yet I wanted to share how I am approaching this. For it is in some ways real close to the market research that often pays for my living and yet I can’t always talk about.

I was asked to be a scribe, provided access, provided with personal briefing by both Nokia and Pearson. For all it is something new. It’s a recognition about how stories may be told and how bloggers may be engaged in their telling.

This week I’ve had ready exposure to document and see what I want to see and my opportunity to put my own stories and slant into it. In the end what I write may or may not be used, and linked to by Nokia, Pearson etc. That’s up to them. For me I’m going to get some material that will get me blogging.

  • Their content will be released later. I’m not trying to provide a pre-release or tell their story although elements they’ve shared with me will no doubt be incorporated in my words.
  • They’ve freely shared their time with me and access to things I might otherwise not see. I regard the investment of my time in it as simply my own personal learning journey, something that will add value to other things that I do, whether market assessment, product development, or frontline research.
  • I’m willing to share and give something back. My observations, and to tell some new stories or find elements that are worth having a conversation around. My POV is not their POV’s. There’s an upside in everything I saw.

What’s happening here?
Perhaps we are beta testers for the PR department. If so it makes sense to pull in early some of those that may have a keen interest in the subject, the outcomes, or the issues.

  • Bloggers are given access to an event, research, field trials. It takes time on both parts. The costs of attending are covered. Thus the conversation opportunity is enabled.
  • We were selected. That’s both an honor and responsibility. It starts with the desire for a positive experience and is required for both sides.
  • I was not alone on the blogger Social Media journey this week. Jonathan Greene who writes a great blog was definitely on the same wavelength when it came to the tools we both use. Check out his blog Atmaspheric. I’m also sure we will have different takes on what’s what.

Why write this post and not just jump into what I learned? Well next week I’m off to Brazil, specifically the Amazon where Nokia has been running an innovative data gathering program out of Manaus. That’s a big trip, and not a place I thought I’d be going 10 days ago. Like the educational project I’ll be seeing first hand what’s happening in the field and I’ll be looking at it in terms of how it might change lives. And it is that point that I think really matters.

The blog posts that are likely to emerge are likely to be more category than product specific. That’s the sign of a more mature type of outreach. Sure I’ll use an N97 on site but in this case it is not about the phone; it is more about what we are learning about mobile and I am appreciative of the experience.

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