The goal of blogger relations is to build long lasting relationships, not just get a few hits for one program. Even when you have a great story to tell, doing blogger relations right is a careful, time-consuming process.
It starts with reading the blogs. Regularly. There is no substitute.
Directories? I don’t use them for blog research. I prefer to do the digging myself. It is okay to start with a list from another source, but I think you miss out if you don’t do original research. Follow some links. Inhale a few blogrolls. Make some decisions about the bloggers that you want to reach based on what you’ve read, not on how they are categorized on some list.
You should develop a pretty tight “definition” of the blogger you are trying to reach. A good story will only be a good story for a limited number of bloggers. When you try to tell it to someone who isn’t that interested, it becomes a bad story. It’s not about what you say. It’s about how they receive and perceive it.
Before each project, I always take the time to update my list:
- look for new blogs and bloggers that might be interested;
- update my email addresses;
- make sure that a blogger isn’t facing anything (crisis, poor health, death in the family etc.) that would make outreach inappropriate.
When you are contacting a reporter with some bit of news, you generally do not have a window into her personal life. Not true with people who are writing about their lives. You do have a way of knowing. The blog. There is no excuse for not checking. Is it time-consuming? Sure, but if you don’t do it, you aren’t doing blogger relations. You are emailing spam.
Even good news may mean that it’s not the right time to contact someone.
This holds true for business bloggers too. Even if the focus of the blog is a business topic, not the person’s life, major events tend to get noted. For example, business blogger Debbie Weil’s daughter is getting married this weekend (congratulations!) Probably not the best time to reach out to Debbie. She’s too busy.
Now, I know we all read lots of feeds, and we can’t read everything by everybody every day. And still get our work done. I very regularly mark ALL READ when I get way behind. But, even if you can’t do tight monitoring all the time, you must do it for a period before your outreach. It is well worth the time; if you aren’t willing to put the time in, don’t do it at all.
How many bloggers? In a recent project which had pretty broad appeal, I built an outreach list of about 40 bloggers. Some of you are probably thinking, why so few? In fact, this is a pretty large list for a blogger outreach. Typically, I recommend about 20 well targeted blogs. If you have more than that for your "thing," whatever it may be, you may not be targeting tightly enough. Not all mom bloggers write about the same things. Not all food bloggers have the same interests. And so on.
As my friend Elise Bauer says, don’t send a cake mix to a scratch baker.
There’s also a practical reason for keeping the list small. Every email is done individually. Sure, I build a doc with the basic information, but every email is addressed to the blogger by name unless the blog is anonymous.
This is important, marketing and PR bloggers, so pay attention: NO MASS EMAILING. You’ve done all this work researching and reading. You comment on the blogs when you have something appropriate to say. Don’t screw it up by using a mass email program. I do each and every email by hand, adding personal information and referring to recent or regular topics on the blog. For every blogger relations program I do.
Finally, it is critical that your story actually be interesting to the blogger. No one wants to get regurgitated press releases. Just about everybody likes contests. Especially when they have great prizes. But they also like information about things they are interested in. They like being asked to evaluate products. They like being asked to participate. Be creative. If you don’t know what they’d like, ask them!!!
The first few campaigns in any given space are the tough ones. But if you do it right, you’ll build authentic relationships with a core group of influencers that will pay off, for you and for them, over the long run.
Tags: blogger relations