A different breed: what to expect from bloggers

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I’m getting ready to leave on a press/media trip to Hutchinson, Kansas;  several of the city’s public relations and marketing folks decided that bloggers and wired writers offer a different way to get the word out about their destination.

My travel-related posts will be over on my Family Travel blog and the Perceptive Travel blog, but there’s an online angle here that’s intriguing. Some in Hutchinson have already impressed me with their Web connections - over 1,100 in the Facebook group. Go, small town social media!

I don’t know that everyone I’ll encounter will be quite as plugged in, however.  Something that I noticed on the China 2.0 Tour was bouncing around in my head this morning, and as I was getting ready to send an email to one of the trip organizers about dealing with wired writers, it occurred to me that I should write a blog post instead.

That’s because someone like me thinks a bit differently than a mostly-print writer. We’d rather write a blog post to reach many than an email to reach only one, and we’d rather do it NOW.

Public. Rapid. Sharing.

That’s why we’re different, and for people who are used to dealing with print writers and journalists, there are a few other things you should know:

  • We may be talking about your organization or destination before we even get there. We talk about it on Twitter and on Facebook. Our TripIt widget on our LinkedIn profile says we’re coming your way, and we’re bookmarking Web sites using StumbleUpon or Delicious for some advance research. Can you hear us?  Do you have rudimentary Google Alerts set up? Do you know how to search Twitter?
  • We’re immediate, or at least pretty darn quick. You’re used to seeing print articles a few weeks to a few months after a journalist visit, but bloggers are different. Many of us are blogging while we’re still hearing briefings or touring attractions. We’re posting videos on YouTube. We’re uploading photos of your destination on Flickr.  We might be talking about lunch and dinner on Yelp. We’re uploading photos and comments to our Facebook page.  Constantly.
  • Where are you on the Web? Does your organization have a blog? A Flickr pool? A video channel? Are you on Twitter? Where’s your Facebook page or group? Not to be dismissive of people’s efforts, but you’re not knocking anyone’s socks off these days simply by having a Web site.  A Web site is a given, like a phone number. Please tell us where you are - if we like your stuff, we’ll be linking to it and talking about it.  Do you see our links coming in? Come on over and comment on whatever we’ve posted.
  • Everything is on the record and recorded unless you say otherwise, right up front.  Our style with speakers is a little different   -  for presenters or PR folks who aren’t used to geeks, it’s like a digital Normandy invasion. We all arrive in some conference/briefing room and swing into action. We’re crawling under tables looking for electrical outlets to plug in our stuff, we’re opening laptops, we’re aligning our Web cams to live-stream your presentation to the Web as it happens, we’re firing up to live-tweet on Twitter using our iPhone, we’re holding up our Flip video cameras to start shooting, we’re snapping photos and uploading them right then.  You’re ON, not only to the bloggers, but to everyone outside the walls who is in the blogger’s many networks (and questions will come in via Twitter and video chat boxes from those who are watching and listening outside the conference room.)  Don’t be alarmed. You want reach, you got reach!

For organizations who are used to a lot of “control” and one-way broadcast of their message, it’s a bit disconcerting to look at people who all seem to have data streams coming out of their bodies, going who knows where.

In my experience, wired writers and bloggers are generally a pretty sharing, friendly group although our communications techniques may be different than what you’re used to.  We’re big on authenticity and transparency, and we talk about things that we like.

Be the one we talk about. Be ready to engage.

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This post was written by:

Sheila Scarborough - who has written 31 posts on Every Dot Connects.

I'm a writer and speaker specializing in tourism,travel and social media. Co-founder of Tourism Currents.

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12 Comments For This Post

  1. Kara Williams Says:

    Great post Sheila! And so right on.

    As a traditional print writer turned blogger/Tweeter (who still keeps a toe firmly in the print camp), *I’m* sometimes amazed at the things I’m now doing while traveling (pulling out the Flip video camera or cursing hotel internet connection because I can’t upload a Twitpic - still no Crackberry for me).

    So, I can imagine that CVB/PR folks who have not jumped on the 2.0 bandwagon yet being flabbergasted w/ such writers on press trips. That said, it’s awesome how many social-media savvy PR folks are out there, with more and more learning every day. (And I’m learning right alongside them as 2.0 platforms are being introduced at lightening speed.)

    Again, great post!

  2. Sheila Scarborough Says:

    Thanks, Kara. I’m the same sort of hybrid; I take a lot of notes in a (paper!) reporter’s notebook or Steno pad, but it’s sitting with a pen next to my laptop with 17 tabs open and I’m shooting stuff out everywhere.

    And the iPhone-ers have it ALL over me in terms of what they’re doing.

    Because we attended a lot of presentations in China, I began to note how speakers reacted when our blogger gaggle would do its thing (including saying, “I have a question for you from Twitter” or “I have a question for you from the UStream [livestreaming to the Web] chat” and the speaker either knew what they meant or was totally befuddled.

    Just trying to decrease befuddlement, one post at a time. :)

  3. Karen Swim Says:

    Sheila, what a cogent explanation of the digital writer. You have not only captured the immediacy with which digital writing operates but you beautifully outline why companies/organizations/towns should adapt an always on mentality. The good news is being prepared for the digital media means you are always prepared for print media as well. It’s funny but I said to someone last week that even in our personal lives,when in public we should always assume we’re on candid camera! I am reminded today of the truth in that statement.

  4. ExploreMyBlog Says:

    A traditional writers both from print and electrnic media can be a very good bloggers, but for my point of view electrnic writers can be very good bloggers as compare to print writers.

  5. Nancy D. Brown Says:

    Perfect timing on this post, Sheila. I’ll be speaking at the Oregon Governor’s Conference on Tourism next week on the Travel Bloggers panel.

    Sometimes I feel like we are the animals on display at the zoo. Metaphorically speaking, some PR people walk by and glance at us, others want to get a closer look. We are bloggers, hear us roar!

    As a print media journalist turned on-line blogger, I have to keep up with the digital age. I appreciate the Convention and Visitor Bureaus (CVBs) who are setting up Facebook Fan pages, Twitter and YouTube accounts.

    Please keep in mind, that while glossy magazines do tend to impress, blogger words are indexed on Google and stay on line forever. Sometimes the editorial reach is further than print.

    Follow me on Twitter @Nancydbrown for all things travel related.

  6. Happy Hotelier Says:

    Great post Sheila.
    @ Nancy: Hope you don’t encounter what I encountered at Enter09 in Amsterdam…IFITT conference for academia, DMO’s and IT peeps….No Wifi….so it is more like being Rocket Man being stared at by dinosaurs Lol

  7. @toddlucier Says:

    Sheila, you got me smiling with this one. Indeed, my recent foray to London for the G20 Summit taught me lots about the speed with which we get the word out. It’s also valuable to note we have conversations. Our content isn’t just a one way street. There’s dialogue going on - comments on posts, twitter discussions, seesmic video conversations and the like. It’s all pretty exciting. I’ll likely copy some of what you say here for an upcoming preso and quote you.

    You Texan bloggers have a way with words.

  8. Sheila Scarborough Says:

    @Karen Swim - The “always on” mentality can be pretty powerful if it’s used in a positive way.

    @ExploreMyBlog - Writing for the Web is different both stylistically and in how the information is spread. It takes awhile to get your head around it.

    @NancyDBrown - Really appreciate your feedback. It’s a learning process for all.

    @HappyHotelier - Give ‘em hell, Guido! Solid WiFi is a bedrock requirement, not just a “geek thing.”

    @ToddLucier - Yes, it’s not simply “send it out there and you’re done.” It takes time and nurturing because it is human relationships. Happy to have you quote me at any time, with or without a Texas accent. :)

  9. Julie Says:

    What a wonderful piece! I am a Hutchinsonian who is interested in those who travelled here last week. I was caught off guard by this explaination of bloggers, and really loved it. Thanks so much for explaining what you do so well, and thanks for taking the time to come to “little” Hutchinson. :)

  10. Sheila Scarborough Says:

    @Julie - Thanks so much for visiting Every Dot Connects; I really enjoyed Hutchinson and appreciate the town’s hospitality, in person and here online.

  11. damon tucker Says:

    It was great meeting you on the Big Island. I posted a few pictures of you on the top of my blog.

    I’m the type of blogger that thinks anything and everything is worthy of blogging as long as you can write something somewhat interesting about it.

  12. Dan Roberts (Xebidy) Says:

    Great post Shelia - and I think the immediacy of what we are doing now means that we are generating through Facebook, Twitter etc so much more off the cuff emotional content - rather than getting back and finalising a sculptured piece of prowse.

    Another really valid point that those on the end of being “blogged” is that prior to our travel as you say we are inevitably Digging or Stumbling relevant content for our own records thereby further almost inadvertently spreading the word through immeasurable connectors.

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