By Hugh Anderson, Forth Metrics Limited
If done right, building relationships with influential bloggers can be immensely valuable as it can create brand advocates and build a real community around your brand or product. But it’s not a quick win. It requires time, effort and patience. And it requires different skills and methodologies to traditional media PR.
So what are some of the biggest pitfalls that traditional PR pros make when commencing blogger outreach? Here’s a look at four of the most common:
1. Not researching the right bloggers in the first place.
There’s not much point in pitching a blogger if what you are pitching to them is not of interest to their readers. There are over 180 million blogs out there, so someone, somewhere will definitely be talking about your subject matter, but you need to do quality research to find the right ones.
It is important to define your target audience in as much detail as possible up front, building a profile of who they are, and then thinking about where they ‘hang out’. This drives a research process that will highlight which blogs might be relevant. Then it is essential to delve deep into the potential blogs identified to establish whether they really are on-topic, what the blogger’s style and opinions are, what they have previously posted, etc.
And remember it’s not always the biggest blogs that are the most important – for your ‘niche technology’, Mashable is less likely to run a story and is likely to be less influential to your target audience than a much smaller ‘niche technology’ blog.
2. Not personalising the approach.
A second common faux pas is failing to personalise correspondence. Anything that starts “Dear blogger” is likely to go straight to trash. And anything that smacks of an impersonal mail-merged email is also unlikely to impress.
If you’ve done your research right, you should know enough about the blogger to be able to personalise the approach by referring to some previous event, activity or comment. You should also have started to build a relationship with the blogger in advance by commenting on their blog and retweeting their best tweets.
3. Providing poor content to a blogger.
The target audience of a blogger should always be considered when pitching. You must provide content that adds value to the blog, so what might be interesting to you is irrelevant if it is not of interest to the readership of the blog.
This means thinking beyond what might previously have been a standard press release. Bloggers generally don’t want to just repurpose news releases; they want to write a story with angles and opinions. So think about how you can make your news interesting, informative, impactful and (if possible) entertaining. (And of course it should always be relevant).
As blogs are digital media, you can also add color to your story by utilizing other forms of digital content such as images or videos.
4. Not measuring the results.
Obtaining tangible success measures for a blogger outreach campaign has always been a challenge for the PR industry. Firstly because PR pros generally just doesn’t like numbers. And secondly because tracking and measuring is perceived to be in the ‘too difficult’ box. So it is easy just to either ignore measurement altogether or provide high-level anecdotal feedback.
I believe it is essential that the PR industry tackles this issue, primarily as it is imperative for PR pros to be able to articulate the value that they are generating. There are various types of organization competing for a share of the pie in the digital arena including marketing and digital agencies, so it is incumbent on PR pros to protect their turf by highlighting the value they create.
This may require some education and a change of mindset, but there are now some simple, user-friendly tools that are highly affordable and easy to implement. So it’s time to measure.
The pace of change in a digital world can seem overwhelming. But to those that are embracing it, a whole new world of opportunity is opening up. “Digital influence” is a hot topic and it is clear it is only going to get hotter as consumers and businesses all look to digital channels as their sources of information.
Blogs play an important role in this as they also provide the independence and trust that sceptical modern consumers crave. So mastering blogger outreach adds an important tool to any PR pro’s armoury.
Editor’s note: If you found the above helpful, you can get your hands on the new 39-page ebook just published, “The Best Practice Guide for Effective Blogger Outreach” via the link below: http://www.inkybee.com/blogger-outreach-a-best-practice-guide/
About the author: Hugh Anderson is a Scottish entrepreneur. He co-founded Forth Metrics Limited to create new, simple marketing analytics tools. The first tool, Inkybee, helps anyone doing blogger outreach by discovering blogs, managing the outreach process and measuring the results. It is currently in public beta.