Back in May, I wrote about a Golden State Warriors PR professional who had commented anonymously in a popular Warriors’ message board. As I stated then and continue to believe, sports PR professionals should always comment publicly because leaving anonymous comments can and will backfire like what happened in May with the Warriors. Today’s installment in the Sports Blogging 101 Series will address how to comment on sports blogs and message boards so that you can avoid occurrences like the example listed above.
This is what I had to say about the situation back in May:
If done properly, I have absolutely no problem with someone from a team’s PR department commenting on sport blog posts or message boards. However anonymous commenting never seems to be a good idea when it comes to this issue. If you don’t feel comfortable associating yourself and team with the comment, you probably should opt to forgo the comment altogether.
What to Avoid
- When you are commenting on a blog entry or a message board thread, please please do not type out a pitch or release right there. It’s a huge turnoff for bloggers and if they moderate comments, your comment will never make it past their scrutiny. Any pitch or press release that you want to get to the blogger needs to be e-mailed directly to them.
- If you can’t uncover their e-mail address, you can leave a comment asking for an e-mail address to reach them at and then offer your own address so they can contact you directly. Anything more than that and you will just annoy the blogger. Unfortunately some bloggers hold a bad stereotype for the PR profession and leaving a pitch in a comment will only further that stereotype so please avoid it at all costs.
- Try not to make the comment all about you — that goes back to sounding spammy and it’s just not a good idea.
- This seems obvious, but I just want to briefly remind everyone. Don’t be rude toward other commenters or the blogger. If you don’t think you can keep your composure in a particular instance, simply don’t leave a comment. Never swear because you don’t know who that may turn off of your brand.
- Sports PR pros do not have to avoid commenting on message boards. However, I think there is a higher likelihood of making a mistake by doing so versus commenting on a blog entry. Message board users are a certain subset of your fans and they’re a very passionate, vocal group. Unless you wanted to post something about an autograph signing or event to meet players, I would recommend simply monitoring message boards rather than interacting.
What to Do
Here are some tips you’ll want to keep in mind and follow when leaving a comment:
- Remember that the goal of commenting is to develop a relationship with the blogger and even the readers of the blog. I recommend commenting on the blog at least a couple times before sending an e-mail pitch or press release, but if you are pushed for time you have to do what you have to do.
- Know the blogger and his/her audience. Some blogs follow a more newsy, journalist-type format where any well-thought out comment will likely be welcomed. Other popular blogs are full of wit, humor, and snarky comments. These blogs are harder to interact with as a PR pro because if you come off too PR-esque, you’ll likely get ripped apart by other readers. If you try to sound too much like the other commenters, you may not be representing your organization in the best light so it’s a fine balancing act.
- Always comment on the topic of that particular post. Don’t comment on something completely off topic because it will come off as spam.
- Make sure your comment adds value to the other readers and blogger. It’s easy to tell which comments have required some thought before posting and those tend to attract the eyeballs of fellow readers, which is what you want. Think quality over quantity.
- Be transparent with who you are. Let’s say I’m leaving a comment on a Red Wings’ blog on behalf of the organization. I would want to leave my name and that I’m with the Red Wings. Be sure to enter your work e-mail address and the team’s website URL in the comment forms.
Tomorrow we’ll have a list of 25 sports blogs that we recommend checking out and if it seems like a good fit for both sides, you can even start leaving comments there.