Working with bloggers is a new and exciting form of public relations that has been fast growing in rage.
Bloggers are as influential as they seem – and many brands are getting to understand their true value. They are part of massive communities and they speak to one another on a daily basis. But on the flip side, one regularly comes across negative chatter from bloggers about how the PR professionals approach and interact with them.
A few months ago I had blogged and questioned whether PR agencies in Pakistan knew ‘how’ to work with bloggers in comparison to working with the traditional or mainstream journalist – and had outlined the good with the bad of our industry. Bloggers are not part of the traditional media and journalists that PR professionals are used to working with – but that does not mean they are not professionals and are in it for ‘fun’ or to be ‘pushed’.
10 things that (real) bloggers want companies and brands to remember when working with them.
- Blogging is not just a hobby! Most bloggers see their work professionally, it is disheartening and discouraging when PR professionals send messages that sound like an order. If the relationship is build respectfully, bloggers are fantastic brand partners and, on a long-term ongoing brand champions.
- Respect the bloggers time. Bloggers put a lot of time into writing, photography, and scheduling posts is more intensive than most realize. Provide a blogger enough time in advance to produce the best work possible; nobody likes feeling rushed or being told to do something ‘today’.
- Unlike journalists – blogging is not the primary job! Bloggers may have another job – in addition to producing great content for their blogs. So if you do not get a reply to that email you sent within an hour…do not worry.
- Do your homework. Read their blog first – and as a PR person know why you are pitching to the blogger in the first place. Consider the demographics and behaviors of the targeted bloggers and ask why a blogger would want to partner with you.
- Bloggers are individuals. Remember these three words whenever communicating with a blogger. Customize your outreach and never send emails and messages starting with “Dear Blogger”! Get to know them. Ask to speak with them on the phone; do not hesitate to ask them a little bit about themselves.
- Share valuable and timely information — Without solid content, a PR person doesn’t really have much hope of securing coverage. Q&As, product reviews, research findings, new data — these are all strong potential content options. Before pitching a to blogger, make sure you’re offering something valuable.
- Consider a blogger’s full social media footprint. Digital PR is not always about getting a blog published. A few tweets from someone may carry a lot more weight than a blog post in terms of actual influence – so consider partnering with dynamic influencers who uses multiple platforms to engage with their audience. And think creatively about ways you could leverage that network.
- Bloggers priority is their readers not the brand! Expecting anything but honesty about a product or service from a blogger. The people who read blogs are looking for transparency and honest opinions, if the writer cannot deliver then reliability is lost – so don’t expect a positive review. Let the blogger tell the brand story in a compelling way. Don’t try to control what is written.
- Compensate. When it comes down to compensation, bloggers feel that they are being “cheated” sometimes. Understand that it is a professional arrangement and compensate the blogger for their time and effort. Compensation doesn’t always have to be cash (product may suffice), but the offer should absolutely have some monetary value. Hiring a blogger has to be seen as an extension of the marketing/PR efforts.
- Build meaningful relationships. Invest time in nurturing relationships with bloggers. Instead of approaching blogger outreach as a one-time activity, take a long-term approach. How can marketing/PR people work with bloggers to create mutually beneficial relationship?
Bottom line: getting influencers to talk about your brand is an extremely effective PR tactic. The time to plan and carry out blogger outreach programs can produce significant payback.
This article was originally published in March 2014 issue of Brands Magazine – and this is the unedited version of the same.