Are bloggers and journalists the same?

As PR pros, why do we feel like we need to treat journalists and bloggers the same? (Image credit:










The other day, I was driving home listening to my favorite sports radio station and I caught most of an interview with AP sports reporter Doug Tucker. Doug has been a staple of the Kansas City AP since 1969 and he’s retiring later this summer, so Kevin Kietzman at 810 had him on to discuss the Kansas City sports landscape and how his job has changed since he started it more than 40 years ago.

Doug had a lot of interesting insights to offer, but a couple of them stood out to me:

  1. He said that if a journalist today isn’t using Twitter, he/she isn’t doing their job.
  2. When asked if the way people consume news today is a bad thing, he said it isn’t really a good or a bad thing…it just is what it is. And we have to learn how to work with it.

Doug is right. And I want to concentrate on the second point specifically. No PR pro or journalist stood up one day and said: “From now on, bloggers will also be part of the media or the marketing mix.” It just happened over time. Because industries evolve. Because people figured out new ways to use technology. But most importantly, because the public demanded that bloggers be included.

Over the last six months I have heard so many of my peers say that bloggers need to act more like journalists. Or we should treat bloggers more like journalists. Or we never paid journalists, how could we possibly pay bloggers. You know what I have to say to that rationale?

C’mon people! Stop trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. You don’t have any control over how customers choose to get their information. See, that’s the part that makes me shake my head the most. We go around counseling companies that they don’t have control of their messages. That frankly, they never did. And they have to adapt.

Well, we’re right. But we need to, for lack of a better cliche, take a dose of our own medicine. Our job as PR pros is to adapt, research who our customers trust and go to for information and work with those groups. In many cases that will be bloggers. And also media. And maybe other customers. Whoever it is, that’s where we need to be building relationships.

Here's what some smart PR pros had to say today when I asked if bloggers and journalists are the same. And no, I can't do cartwheels...yet.

In my opinion, and it may not be a popular one, journalists fell behind because they didn’t realize that their product was the news, not the newspaper. Or the TV show. It’s the news. And that’s what Doug was saying. Understand how people want their news and don’t ignore it because your grew up with your dad reading 10 newspapers every day. Embrace the change. Adapt. Find a new way to connect.

The same goes for PR pros and bloggers. We all have to understand how our audiences want to be communicated with and work to deliver information that way. And part of that is understanding that those preferred methods of communication are going to change. That’s our job. That’s our responsibility. Anything less is unacceptable.

There are so many roads we could go down with this topic. And we will, in later posts. For now, let’s remember one thing — bloggers and journalists ARE NOT the same. But they both need to be treated with respect by companies and each other, because they both play a role in the way people consume information.

Still, that doesn’t mean bloggers have to follow the same rules as journalists. Or that PR pros have to engage with bloggers the same way they have always reached out to the media. If you’re looking for something set in stone, watch that Disney movie where the knights of the round table try to pull the sword out of the stone before King Arthur got to it.

And then when you leave that storybook land and get back to the real world, remember that we’re talking about working with people, researching people, understanding people. The rules are going to change. And our success, as Doug said, depends on how we learn to work with it.

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tressalynne 11 pts

The "square peg in a round hole" is the perfect analogy! Just because we have a same/similar message to send, doesn't mean those receiving it want to do so in the same fashion. It's OUR responsibility to customize the message (and delivery method) to the audience. Good post, Justin. =)

JGoldsborough 189 pts moderator

tressalynne You hit the nail on the head. Customers and media don't need to adapt so we can deliver our messages the same way we always have. In fact, saying it like that makes it sound even more preposterous :). Thanks for stopping by.


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