5 ways to deal with a rogue blogger

Is a blogger with whom you work saying things he or she shouldn’t about your organization? Try these methods of calming the situation.

This story originally appeared on PR Daily in August 2014. In a graduate-level media course I’m taking, one of my classmates—an in-house PR professional—is grappling with a rogue blogger in her community. She grumbles that the blogger constantly cranks out negative, out-of-line posts related to her employer. She alleges the posts are inaccurate and slanted, and border on being libelous. “I feel like I need to walk a tightrope to build strong relationships with all journalists,” my classmate laments, “but at the same time would really like to give this blogger a piece of my mind.” My classmate and her colleagues have tried to reason with the blogger, but to no avail. Sound familiar? If you work in PR, you’ve probably crossed paths with an unprofessional blogger who deserves a piece of your mind, but you likely have held back for fear of whipping the blogger into an even bigger frenzy. In general, PR professionals advise treading carefully when dealing with bloggers like this one. “Truthfully, though 
bloggers aren’t technically held to the same ethics and standards that journalists are, in the current ecosystem, most bloggers are extremely 
talented writers who either work as digital journalists or aspire to work
as digital journalists,” said veteran blogger Kate Rice, senior media relations manager at ComboApp, a mobile marketing and communications 
agency in Chicago. “Bloggers are sensitive to upholding journalistic 
standards,” Rice added, “and they follow those standards because they are concerned with being
 viewed as a legitimate source of news and opinion.” Here are five tips for handling a blogger who isn’t following those standards. 1. Treat the blogger like a traditional journalist. If a reporter from a traditional media outlet regularly made errors, you’d definitely point them out. Use the same approach with a blogger, too. “If a blogger is misrepresenting or falsely
 reporting on you or your client, you have the right to diplomatically inform
 them they are incorrect while offering resources that may help them better
understand the situation,” said Katie Foley, director of PR and client relations at lotus823, a PR and digital marketing agency in Eatontown, New Jersey. Maureen Murray, president of PR firm Precise Communications in Morris Plains, New Jersey, said this tactic can work. For instance, she said, a radio host once criticized one of her client’s products in several online posts. After Murray corrected the host’s misperceptions about the product, he stopped bashing it and now “is one 
of our best media contacts,” she said. 2. Connect with the blogger. An email or online comment addressing the blogger’s concerns can
 soothe his or her outrage, said Natalie Bidnick, digital strategist at Elizabeth Christian & Associates Public Relations in Austin, Texas. If this sort of outreach fails to do the job, a public response is in order, Bidnick said. “Keep it courteous, informative and specific,” she said. “The 
public response should live on the brand’s blog, and be linked to from their 
website’s homepage and all social media channels for maximum reach.” 3. Consider the source. Remember that a media report that twists the facts does much more harm if it appears on a well-known, well-read website than a less-known, less-read blog, Rice said. If the latter is the case, it might be best to ignore the erroneous blog post and let it “disappear into the ether of the Internet,” she said. 4. Consider cutting off the blogger. If the treat-him-like-a-traditional-journalist stance doesn’t do the trick, then it might be wise to limit or halt all communication with the rogue blogger, Foley said. Chances are, you’re not going to change the blogger’s opinion. “Once they display unconventional journalism etiquette, it
 would be wise to scale back on communication,” Foley said. “Defending your case or arguing with a blogger has the potential to add fuel
 to the fire. … Waiting for the storm to
 pass could be the best route to take.” 5. Do not get into a war of words. ComboApp’s Rice recommends being professional, respectful and neutral in your communication with an ethics-challenged blogger. Resist the urge to spar with the blogger in a back-and-forth exchange. “Keep in
 mind that some bloggers want ‘clickbait,’ as that will drive advertising
 revenue for their site. Bloggers who want this are less concerned
 with the truth than they are concerned with driving eyes to their stories,” Rice said. “If you engage in slinging mud via email or comments, it’s likely
 that they will publish the exchange on their site as further ‘evidence’ of
 your transgressions.” John Egan is editor-in-chief at Austin, Texas-based SpareFoot.


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