I thought I’d devote a post to the subject I’ve been working on for several months while writing my Master thesis: blogger relations and its role in PR. I’ve been meaning to share my experiences and knowledge with you for some time now, but never got around to do it.
To begin with, blogger relations, or blogger outreach, encompasses more than just favorable posts about a certain product or brand written by famous bloggers. Webloging, videoblogging and microblogging – can all be part of a successful blogger outreach campaign. Blogger relations ideally should be combined with other social media tactics: bloggers and their readers would most likely want to know more about your brand by looking for online pictures, videos, podcasts and informative and interactive website.
However, do not use all possible social media applications unselectively. Do a thorough research beforehand to find out where and what your target audience might be spending time on. A good principle to keep in mind: less is more.
When to use blogger relations as a part of marketing mix:
1. Your primary goal is a long-term reputation management, rather then short-term sale-success.
2. Your product or services are not self-explanatory, and require informational cognitive approach to marketing, rather than visual appeal.
3. You’re niche-positioned brand which appeals to a certain segment of publics. The smaller the segment is, the more you should consider blogger outreach (or social media strategy in general, for that matter). One of the brilliant explanations for this is a Long Tail theory. Read more here.
4. You’re committed to invest time and resources in online marketing in the time to come. Blogger outreach demands higher degree of commitment, and is more time-consuming than traditional media relations.
5. You are proactive in your corporate strategy, thinking dynamically rather than incrementally.
6. You are struggling with getting MSM coverage, and you want to get into the journalists spotlight.
7. You have ambitions to dominate the world in your industry sector.
So how to get started?
1. Start by monitoring the blogosphere to find the influencers in your particular sphere of interest.
2. Start listening to these conversations on the regular basis.
3. Try blogging yourself, or introduce a team/corporate blog on your website. Note: blog must include the opportunity to easily comment on it (without requirement to log in, or to register beforehand). Some companies have gotten this wrong: just posting articles on your website is not blogging.
4. Comment on other blogs. Make your comments interesting, which add value to the blogger and the ongoing conversation.
5. Link to your website/your blog wherever possible.
6. Never bribe the blogger to give you a positive coverage. For one paid-for positive post, you’ll get hundreds of negative ones, and you risk loosing credibility forever.
7. Instead of waving with free-products (which is actually quite ethical unless you demand to get a ROI for it), appeal to blogger’s ego: bloggers love to be among the few chosen ones to review a product or a company.
Why to get involved in blogger relations?
Employing blogger relations in your marketing campaign will sufficiently improve chances to increase the scope of your campaign. Today blogs are enjoying readership that rivals that of traditional media, and this tendency moves in the direction of blogs. Blogger outreach is an excellent step towards achieving WOM and online buzz about your brand. As journalists increasingly monitor blogosphere for their topics of interest, your chances to get into the mainstream media without any effort on your behalf are getting higher. Variety of multimedia channels fragmented media users, and now it is much easier to reach exactly your targeted market – you don’t have to guess who and where they are: successful blogger relations will get your target to come to you instead. Interlinked nature of blogosphere gives you potential to spread your message to millions of audience (potential customers and brand ambassadors) – hence, the chance to dominate the world. If you’re good enough for that, now you have a chance to do it with almost no expenses involved.
Once you’ve made your official appearance online, you should maintain it: it will cost you a good deal of time, so think twice before you get out there.