Bloggers can add great value to a PR campaign as they are at the forefront of digital opinion forming. Readers of blogs tend to be loyal and are more likely to be convinced by a blogger’s opinion than any advertising they see.
When building your relationship with bloggers, it’s first crucial to identify those who are most relevant to your audience, to avoid wasting your time and theirs. Stuart Lambert, director of consumer technology at PR firm Weber Shandwick says: “Choose those with greater influence in terms of online hits, Twitter followers and reach via other social media channels such as Facebook, Google+ or YouTube.”
Before making your approach, Lambert says this should be simple and transparent, establishing upfront that the communication is coming from a PR officer on behalf of a brand, and it should lay out in clear terms what is being offered – whether that is simply information and assets (images or video, for example), or something more hands-on, such as an event invitation or a product loan.
And don’t expect the same reactions as you would get from journalists. Helen Nowicka, UK head of digital, EMEA social media strategist at PR firm Porter Novelli points out, “While journalists need to demonstrate impartiality and balance, many bloggers voice strong opinions that help them attract and grow an audience, so if they don’t like your product or even how you’ve approached them, they’ll say so.“ Nowicka says it’s harder than it used to be to attract a blogger’s attention as they get so many approaches from PROs these days, so you have to prove you are worthy of their time: “Ideally, you’ll have been reading their blog already, but if not, get started. If you’re asking a parent blogger to review baby food when they have a two year old, the chances are you’re going to burn your bridges before you’ve begun. In summary, think about the three Rs: build long-term relationships; be relevant; and show respect.”
Five top tips for working with bloggers
Suggested by Daryl Willcox, chairman of media communications specialist DWPub:
1. Choose the right blogs
Identify the most influential blogs in your sector. Although popular blogs can have huge readerships, approaching them just because they have a large following isn’t necessarily going to yield good results. Most bloggers write about specific things – choose blogs that are relevant to your company’s sector.
2. Don’t send press releases
Bloggers are not journalists and always be approached in a different way. Automatically sending a press release to a blogger will make you look out of touch and you’re unlikely to achieve good results. Instead, send tailored pieces of information that the blogger will find interesting.
Speak to bloggers on a personal level. Approaching them with “Dear Blogger” or referring to them as their blog name is only going to cause annoyance. Research – find out what the blogger’s interests are and spark a conversation surrounding them. Praising a recent blog post they wrote, and you found interesting, is also a good way to break the ice.
4. Show support
If you see a blog post you find interesting, Tweet it and ask colleagues to reTweet it. Showing support will help the blogger to see you as a valuable contact.
5. Strengthen relationships
In order to maximise your opportunities it’s important to strengthen your relationships with bloggers. Always show appreciation and say thank you when a blogger has used your information in a post. If you’re ever in the same area, why not take the blogger for a coffee, or even better out to lunch? Having a strong relationship will ensure best results are achieved.
What’s the best way to work with bloggers?
Jeremy Walters, independent PR consultant: “Any PR serious about blogging needs to attend at least one London Bloggers Club meeting. Even as a blogger I picked up many, many tips. And, of course, all the bloggers are there in person.”
Pamela Lyddon, CEO of digital agency Bright Star Digital: “It’s really important that you know their blogs, what they stand for, what they like and don’t like so when you contact them for your brand/event you know there is a good fit. Many a tale has been told on how bloggers have been emailed with random requests when it doesn’t fit with their blog or ethics, treated badly with broken promises, such as expenses and trips withdrawn when a company has found out the blogger lived too far away from the event – quite frankly it’s disgraceful.”
Habib Amir, head of digital at PR agency Clarion Communications: “Don’t dictate to a blogger what you’d like them to write; allow them to be honest – it’s their blog after all. And always bear in mind that no blog is too small – the blogging community is very supportive, and a young blog can grow very quickly.”
Written by Daney Parker