Blogger outreach is not new. PRs and marketing agencies have been doing it for years, but what is new, or more accurately needs to be new is the approach.
Once upon a time a blogger was what you would have called a “green inky” – someone who always has something to say, a heart-felt opinion that had to be heard.
All of a sudden there was platform that gave everyone a voice, not just the hand-picked letters to the editor somewhere near the middle pages of the newspaper – remember those? The green inkies went viral.
Why blogger outreach?
The traditional press was the bastion of free speech, the guardians of truth, and the only thing that really held anybody to account. Some well-known red tops are credited with having enough influence as to determine the outcome of a General Election. That’s power. But the power is moving into the hands of the bloggers.
It’s a question of trust. People simply trust bloggers to tell them the truth, and if you have a blog with that elusive thing called authority, that is where the marketers come in. If your message is disseminated through the best bloggers out there then you know that your brand will be exposed to a large and trusting audience.
Humans are fickle. If you read a newspaper and have a dislike for a particular columnist, you’ll just skip past the page of diatribes and take what you want from the rest.
Bloggers are different, they’re (usually) one person with a passion and you’ll find somebody who will talk about literally anything – travel, technology, food, fashion, benches (yes, benches). Pick a random topic out of the air and there’s probably a blog about it from the keen fingers of an enthusiast.
What is this thing “authority”?
To keep it relatively simple, it’s lots of regular and loyal followers. Bloggers are essentially expert columnists, with an audience who will hang onto their every word. That is why they’re so important to digital marketing, they are one of the most powerful outlets that will go directly to the RSS feed, twitter timeline, and Facebook homepage of a specific audience.
The great thing about getting a story on a blog with that wonderfully placed link, is you can actually measure how many people look at it.
Talk to them, not at them
A blogger can pick-off corporate speak from 100 yards with one hand tied behind their back. When your primary point of contact is an email address it can be easy to forget that you’re talking to a real live person.
Take the time to get to know them, know what they are interested in, get a feel for their style, simply take an interest. Be personal. When you outreach the personalised email it will elicit a much more positive response, even if they don’t want what you’re selling this time.
Rules of engagement
Well done, you sent your personalised email, you treated the blogger with the respect they deserve, and they are happy to work with you. Job done, right?
Wrong. Simply saying hello can go a long way in maintaining a relationship by letting them know they haven’t been forgotten because you don’t have a campaign to run. Engage with them. Like their posts on Facebook, retweet them, express an opinion about something they’ve said. You don’t have to agree with them, but genuine, informed banter is enough to get a friendly conversation going.
What do bloggers want?
If you struggle to think of a way to make your client’s content fit, then move on. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of sideways thinking, but it still has to be relevant. That word “relevant”, is possibly the most important in all of this. If your aim is soft of the target, firstly the blogger will be scratching their head wondering why they received your email, and secondly you’ll look unprofessional and damage future relations.
The fact is that since 2008 when we were plunged into the financial mire, we are looking for ways to supplement, or simply just have an income. However most bloggers are like you and me, they have jobs and families and if they’re lucky it’ll facilitate a lifestyle of event invitations and freebies, but the blog is their baby. If you offer them the old sweeties from the bottom of your grubby coat pocket they’re going to run away screaming and tell all their friends (the whole internet) about the big bad marketing company.
What do they say about reputations, a lifetime to build but seconds to destroy? The most valuable thing to a blogger is their reputation, without it there is no trust, no authority, and the first thing they’ll think about is how their association with your brand will be perceived. They will do nothing to undermine the trust they have built with their followers. If they say no, kindly thank them for their time and move on; few doors are permanently closed, but push them and it could backfire, and it will be your reputation that crumbles.
Underestimate them at your peril
Getting it wrong can have consequences ranging from one burned bridge to a full on internet-wide fire storm. Bloggers aren’t like the press, they are the press. Attend any event or launch today and it will be mostly bloggers, in fact events exclusively for bloggers are the norm, so when the blogger calls order in the courtroom, you’d do well to listen.