Building Blogger Relations
April 15, 2009, 4:01 pm
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Blogging creates buzz. Image courtesy of Google.

I was listening to the radio last week, and I heard a conversation about Heather Armstrong, the award winning mommy blogger of Dooce. After blogging for nine years and building an audience, exceeding hundreds of thousands of readers, Armstrong has positioned herself as one of the most influential woman in the parenting industry. As a result, she earns $40,000 every month for all the advertisements posted on her blog. 

Over the past couple years, I have noticed bloggers continuing to gain credibility and publicity. It seems like now more than ever, public relations professional need to focus on blogger outreach strategies rather than traditional media relations to enhance interaction with online communities.  

Blogs have transformed the way the public views traditional forms of media. Transparency in blogging has increased the ability for people to detect dishonesty, and it has given citizen journalists opportunities to enhance the way they express themselves. Bloggers have the unique ability to reach extremely targeted audiences because they post content that appeals to a niche group of people who share similar interests. More PR professionals are starting to rely on relationships with citizen journalists as part of low-budget, new media initiatives to sustain successful PR campaigns.

According to a post on PR 2.0, it is best to listen and observe before initiating any type of communication with bloggers. Building relationships with bloggers is not done aimlessly; they require traditional media relations skills, as well as planning strategic and creative approaches to promoting your client online.

PR and social media marketing expert David Parmet offered this advice:

Here are a few tips on how to get me to get interested in your clients work. Don’t pitch me. Instead, get to know me, and build a relationship, leave comments on my blog, Join the conversation. Find out what I’m interested in. Read my blog, examine the keywords, read the about page, my focus is on Web Strategy, find out what that means! I usually ignore the generic press release, it gets deleted quickly, consider a personal message. Consider not pitching a press release or announcement at all. Why not point me to relevant blog posts from the client (non marketing ones) that I’d be willing to add to my blog. Always remember that I’m thinking of my readers first, so if the content is not going to help them, I’m not going to point to it–think backwards.”

Stop and prepare the perfect pitch to send a targeted blogger. Image courtesy of Flickr.

Stop Sending Spam

Consider the following tips before filling a bloggers inbox with irrelevant information:

  • Know the blogger. Make a list of bloggers who post about events or who have written about your company previously, and then research those blogs. Building a foundation and basic understanding of bloggers and their target audiences will help when determining which bloggers to pitch and what information they’ll consider to be most relevant and compelling.
  • Be objective. Make sure to find a news hook to make the event newsworthy and of interest to the blogger. Make sure this event is entertaining, informative or of other value to the specific blog’s audience.
  • Develop a relationship. Establish an initial connection with a blogger before asking them to do anything. Always share honest, transparent information to build credibility. Make your message personal and concise, don’t send a press release to a blogger. 

Communicate Cautiously

Bloggers aren’t held to the same ethical responsibilities as professional journalists. Bloggers act as their own editors and they have the ability to post whatever they chose. Because blogging etiquette remains undefined, there is always the potential for bloggers to generate negative coverage and risk harming your client’s reputation. It’s crucial to monitor blogs and feedback from the online community to make sure and respond to criticism or negative comments. However, most of the time bloggers should work cooperatively with professionals as long as a mutually beneficial relationship has already been established. 

Social networking and blogging technologies are going to continue evolving and influencing online audiences, so interaction between bloggers and professionals should continue to improve-and eventually become just as routine as dealing with media relations for traditional reporters and journalists.