I commented a couple of weeks ago that "blogger relations" was an immature art at most vendors. Nathan Gilliatt makes an attempt at formalizing blogger relationship management. He lists various types of bloggers - journalist, customer, opponent etc - and ways to deal with them - ignore them with silence, converse with them, respond using your own blog, back channel with the blogger, respond using more traditional media.
Not sure what type he would call me - I guess a customer sourcing adviser is the best description. I would add physical contact to his list of ways to deal with bloggers - as SAP did by inviting several bloggers to Sapphire, or as Sage did with Dennis Howlett this week.
Each blogger type does require different handling. I know James Governor's clients use him effectively to get their messages out through his blog. He has a vendor centric model and that works fine for him. While I like to talk to vendor references rather than just to vendor pitches, I tend to look at things critically from a buyer lens.
I recently had what Nathan would call a "back channel" contact. An attorney for a vendor I blog about (and which usually gives me Nathan's "silent treatment" above while visiting my blog 2-3 times a day) contacted me about being an expert witness in a court case. Nice conversation - I told him my market perspectives, that it was buyer centric and I tended to be hard on most large vendors, including his client. He said that was exactly the independent POV they were seeking in the expert (having been one in a few cases, it is what the judicial process encourages). I told him I was not sure the executives at his client liked my blog. He said that was proof of my neutrality but that he would check with the executives. Never heard from him again. Hopefully the case was settled amicably and the need for an expert went away.
One unresolved issue in formalized blogger relations would be that of funding. Does it come out of AR, PR, IR budgets or is it incremental? The issue, I suspect is even more acute on the blogger side. One hour of his/her time is a far bigger relative investment than an hour or two on the vendor's scale.
Lots of interesting issues to consider if blogger relations gets more formalized, as Nathan would like to see happening.