I have been working in public relations, marketing, and communication for over 16 years. I have also been a blogger for over seven years. In that time I have been privileged to witness the social media boom with a view from both sides of the fence. Knowing what bloggers need and understanding the needs of PR pros and brands has helped me find success with social media efforts for my clients.
Based on my personal work experience as well as sourced from a group of bloggers, here are my top 10 tips for working with these professionals.
- Get to know bloggers the way you get to know traditional media. Anyone wanting to work seriously with bloggers should know who they are. Research and understand each of their blogs and social media channels before you “pitch” them anything. Just like you wouldn’t pitch a business reporter the new fashion trends, you should be clear on what topics each blogger covers before approaching them.
- Working with bloggers should be part of your overall public relations and marketing strategy. Too often bloggers are approached as an afterthought. They are presented press releases and invites meant for traditional media with no thought to compensation, appropriate materials, and calendars. It’s obvious to them and makes them feel less inclined to work with PR reps and brands that won’t put effort into working with them. You will be most successful if you understand their needs and lead times. These can vary from blogger to blogger, but if you’ve done your research you should know which blogs fall into which buckets.
- Plan to compensate. Unlike traditional media outlets that have a budget and means to pay staff, bloggers not tied to a traditional media outlet are not compensated outside of deals and efforts they negotiate. So if you’d like to be taken seriously you must approach them with compensation in mind although it doesn’t always have to mean cash. Compensation can be products or services equal in value to their efforts. It can be for the blogger and / or for their readers. It’s simple. If they are going to spend time and energy to create quality content about your brand or client and share that with their social media channels they should be compensated.
- Be professional. While this should go without saying the reality is mistakes in spelling and grammar are a turn-off for bloggers just like they would be for general media. Take the time to send a well thought out and well-written email especially during first contact. It will earn you bonus points or at least not put you into the first round of deleted emails.
- Realize that there is more to a blogger than their blog. If your only goal is to get them to write and publish a blog post then you are missing the boat. Bloggers are social media creatures and their total influence over all their social media channels might have a bigger impact for you or your clients than a post. Find ways to engage them on as many platforms as possible. It can be Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Vine, FlipBoard, or some other space uniquely qualified for them like HomeTalk, Houzz, FoodGawker, Trippy, etc. They can engage audiences in ways you may not have thought of.
- Rate their influence and relevance higher than impressions. Depending on your campaign goals, ratings should be adjusted and weighted from your research not through an Alexa / Klout algorithm. If your campaign goals are to increase event attendance or sales of a local product with relevance in a specific space, you want a hit on a blog with 3,000 page views a month to a local audience. A hit on a blog with 10,000 views a month, but an audience spread around the globe is worth less. This could be a whole other blog post so I will not get on my soapbox. If you know the blogger’s audience, their social media influence and topics of interest you’ll get further with your overall goals.
- Understand what they need to create quality content. Provide as much material as you can to give them power to create quality content. Valuable information, such as research, Q&As, and new findings, gives bloggers material from which to create content. Other items you should always provide include quality images (think Pinterest), bullet points, trackable hyperlinks, and suggested write-ups to share on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. Include your brand’s hyperlinked social media channels, hashtags, etc.
- Be honest about expectations and timelines. Setting goals and expectations such as how long a post should be, when it should publish, or what social media channels you need them to share on will help save your sanity and the relationship. But don’t confuse setting goals with giving orders. Be respectful of their time and realize that you can’t control their opinions and timelines any more than you can that of any traditional media outlet.
- Don’t underestimate a blogger’s experience or knowledge. While some are not journalists most are professional. Some come from corporate backgrounds. Lots of others made the transition from PR or media. In our group of almost 400 bloggers we have lawyers, engineers, show producers, ex-military, writers, homeschoolers, teachers and former teachers, etc. Keep that in mind when communicating with them and omit the dreaded “mommy” title from your vocabulary unless it’s the title of their blog or you’re speaking to your mother. Just like you wouldn’t consider a tech blogger who writes about STEM programs for his kids a “daddy” blogger you shouldn’t consider a lifestyle, fashion, education, etc. blogger a “mommy” bloggers simply because she has kids who are sometimes referenced in the blog.
- It’s about relationships. Invest the time to build real relationships with bloggers. Go to lunch or coffee, and engage them on social media. Call or email them with ideas. Once you work with bloggers you’ll find that their social media influence and conversations about your brand are priceless. Amplification through bloggers can be an extremely effective PR tactic and bloggers who feel respected and appreciated will be long-term brand ambassadors.
Special thanks to the following bloggers who served as a resource:
- Kassie Buck, The Life of Bucks
- Marla Zickefoose, Saving U Green
- Melanie Mendez-Gonzales, Que Means What
- Pam Lutrell, Over 50 Feeling 40
- Sara Doodle-Phillips, Sensibly Sara
- Tanvi Ashish Rastogi, Tanvii
- Teresa Vincent, Joyful Journeyist
Do you agree? Did I miss any big tips? We would love to hear best practices and advice from others.