From Blogger Relations To Blogger Relations Programs

12/07/2006

Been thinking about Blogger Relations lately. Not necessarily about 'how to pitch' bloggers to blog about your latest and greatest but how to develop long-term relationships with bloggers.  Thought I'd post my notes to self .. to test the ideas.

Bloggers Are Different From Journalists

  • Traditionally (although a business blogger may have guidelines to follow) bloggers do not answer to an editor or publisher.
  • However, the ecosystem of the blogoshpere frequently serves as the “check and balance” to ensure integrity, in terms of honesty and transparency, are maintained.
  • For most bloggers, their underling mandate is to be true to themselves .. not to an outside source or publication or company.

Blogger's Role in The Ecosystem As An Influencer

  • People who blog are frequently the ying to their reader’s yang.
  • Although both readers and bloggers share an enthusiasm and passion about a niche topic – from politics, to computers to ergonomics, it is the blogger’s role to jump-start the conversation through posts that provide insights, commentary, wit, and knowledge.
  • It is the blogger’s ability to add value to the overall conversation and her/his ability to engage with others (bloggers and non blogger readers) through comments, trackbacks, links, online and offline mentions (word-of-mouth), and often a position in an online community of bloggers that implies an influencer position.
  • The combination of these elements brings a new type of visibility and influence that may mirror mainstream media but is different.
  • Elements That Make An Influencer Blogger

    • Credibility  - quality of ideas, connections and credentials
    • Reach  - search engine pick-up
    • Linkings/trackbacks - involvement and engagement in community
    • Comments - relevancy of topic, engagement, community, reach
    • Mentions in blogs, websites, mainstream media - quality and relevancy of ideas, content, research
    • RSS subscriptions
    • Visitor time and depth of page reads
    • Ability to build ‘community’
    • Most important relevancy to reader

New Game In Town

  • However, social media is a different philosophy from that of traditional media.
  • Bloggers want more personal connections than most journalists.
  • Bloggers do not want to be ‘pitched’ … they want to be part of an on-going collaboration or partnership.

Hifive Blogger Relations Programs

  • Build on the values of social media
  • Establish credibility and trust by creating relationships
  • On-going informal conversations - comments, email, phone, face-to-face
  • Position (you/company) as resource that can provide value added information
  • Develop long-range programs that engage and develop the relationships
  • Provide "special blogger only something" - TBD by strategy and needs
  • Bring bloggers together to discuss related issues
  • Include bloggers in customer feedback circles
  • Respect bloggers' time
  • Courtesy  and appreciation - thank the blogger for her participation and help

Developing a blogger relations program is more labor intensive than a customized email request or oh no! a media release no matter how spiffed up.  However, my thoughts are that if you identify blogggers who write (and care) about your niche and involve them in an on-going relationship you create win-win-win situations. Win for the blogger. Win for the blogger's readers. Win for you/your company/your client.

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Comments

Excellent post, Toby. You hit on a lot of the things that most determine whether I write about something sent to me by someone else:
- whether I have a pre-existing relationship or knowledge of that person/organization
- whether the item falls within the scope of the issues I cover on my blog
- whether the item is truly new and different, versus being similar to something I or others have already covered
- whether there is a benefit in it for my readers, such as learning something new and useful, getting a special giveaway or discount, or being entertained
- whether I have time to write about it (so making it as easy as possible for me, by providing all the key info I need).

Someone who meets most of these criteria has a pretty good chance of being covered on my blog. I wonder whether others have additional/different criteria?

Posted by: Nedra Weinreich on Dec 8, 2006 3:51:58 AM

"Bloggers do not want to be ‘pitched’ … they want to be part of an on-going collaboration or partnership."

Great quotes, Toby. And good comments, Nedra.

I endorse Nedra's criteria, but I'd add another: I write about stuff I find personally interesting, on the assumption that my post are a filter for, well, me...(!) and my take on stuff.

Posted by: Ann Handley on Dec 8, 2006 2:27:58 PM

I absolutely agree, Ann. I guess that personal interest filter process is something that is so integral that I didn't even think of it.

Posted by: Nedra Weinreich on Dec 8, 2006 3:27:46 PM

I relate to the 'ying/yang' suggestion - I hope it's true.
Best wishes

Posted by: Maddy on Dec 8, 2006 4:48:53 PM

I think the sheer likeability of the person approaching you makes a difference. Everyone can tell if they're being approached by a media machine with a boilerplate query letter or a real human being who's assessed the blogger's content and audience before composing an email.

I've been on both ends, and I can say with certainty that being appreciated and appreciating others makes a huge difference in whether the relationship will become a productive one.

I have been approached over and over by a media company that wants me to review DVDs, TV shows and video games. They obviously tucked me into a database, but don't bother to mark down whether I've run stories for them before. I therefore get no followup emails. Every query letter is the same, as if I'm a total stranger. And every time, I'm "clearly an influencer". That's earned them a giant eye roll from me every time. And the eye roll shows in the blog posts that I write.

Posted by: kristen on Dec 8, 2006 7:26:31 PM

Likability, personal interest, Nedra's excellent list .. this is great. Reinforces that to engage bloggers you have to, at the minimum, know their passions and be "real" yourself .. unless you are into eye ball rolls. And building relations with bloggers is a long-term strategy that builds over time.

Posted by: Toby on Dec 8, 2006 10:49:07 PM

"building relations with bloggers is a long-term strategy that builds over time."

YES! That is the key there, in many situations. It takes time. Time to get to know them, time to develop the relationship before asking for their help and time for the results to materialize. Getting the relationship and the great input still is just the beginning. There has to be follow-up and continued contact... and patience. The results are not instantaneous is almost every case. It takes time for that momentum to grow to something tangible and measurable.

Great Post Diva!

Posted by: Tim Jackson on Dec 8, 2006 11:45:50 PM

As always Toby, your ideas are fresh and welcome additions to any discussion of blogs and the blogosphere in general; and to business and corporate, marketing, promotional, and public relations blogs in particular. Bloggers are different from the traditional mainstream media and definitely require a new and fresh approach. The old ways of doing business not only will fail when applied to bloggers, but are likely to backfire entirely. Keep advising the world Toby. Your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions are an important part of the conversation. :-)

Posted by: Wayne Hurlbert on Dec 10, 2006 9:19:37 PM

I've been thinking about alot of this stuff, too, Toby (esp. after coming home from WOMMA)...

I would though caution about counting links and subscriptions to blogs. While this is valuable in some ways, as the long tail continues to grow, and more niches are created, measuring influence in this manner might be a bit difficult.

A suggestion was made at a WOMMA panel to only hand out p/r info to bloggers with more than 1,000 relavent links--but, quite frankly, if one looks at the Technorati stats, the only bloggers at that level are the "A-list."

If p/r and marketing efforts are only targeted to the A-list, then it's kind of perpetuation of the status-quo, don't you think?

I would suggest looking more at the content--what the blogger is writing, if they give any indication why they write it. Transparency (which helps evaluate credibility) is also important--do you know who the blogger is?

And you are absolutely spot on about the labor-intense aspect of blogger relations. IRL it takes time to get to know a person--we have to listen to what they say, but also evaluate subtleties of body language and such. With blogging, we have voice, but we're missing other things that, IRL, would make evaluation a quicker proces.

Fascinating, though, how all this is evolving :-)

Posted by: tish grier on Dec 14, 2006 12:47:22 PM

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Posted by: Georgy Bezborodov on Dec 14, 2006 2:54:53 PM

Hi Toby,

We met about a month ago here in the blogosphere when you made a comment on one of my posts about your blog. I teach Internet Communications, a required course in the Public Relations and Advertising program, at Chapman University in Orange County. We're part of the presitgious film school that just opened a $41 million facility, with more development on the way. (A working back lot, a mixed use retail/student housing complex) Orange County loves us, and so does Governor Schwarzenegger.

This semester I revamped Internet Communications, focussing on blogging. Every student created a blog that confronted an issue, company, or public personality. They posted thrice weekly over a course of two months. Also, I made Naked Conversations required reading. This is how I discovered Diva Marketing.

I love your blog! Over break I am going to incorporate it as a case study into my curriculum for next semester. Seventy per cent of my students are women; your blog is perfect for them.

Next time you are in southern California, please accept this invitation to speak on campus. We might be a small, private liberal arts school, but last year we took fifth in the nation in the American Advertising Federation's National Student Advertising Competition. Our students are smart, ambitious, and creative. I think they will love you...and you they.

Sincerely,
Cory O'Connor
Assistatant Professor of Advertising and Public Relations

Posted by: Cory O'Connor on Dec 18, 2006 1:04:18 PM

Great blog and posts, guys. I agree with the recurring theme re: developing real relationships and not throwing blind pitches at bloggers.

I already get 25-plus RSS feeds but I have to subscribe to this one - guess one more can't hurt!

Thanks! Vince

Posted by: vince on Jul 16, 2007 4:51:56 PM

Thanks for the good sharing .I love your blog! Over break I am going to incorporate it as a case study into my curriculum for next semester.
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Posted by: Steven Harmision on Dec 27, 2008 1:55:25 AM

Well done for that blog.It is developing real relationships and not throwing blind pitches at bloggers.
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Posted by: James Addison on Jan 5, 2009 5:46:07 AM

Nice. I especially like the idea of engaging bloggers in real conversations...

Posted by: realistic on Feb 11, 2009 12:25:15 PM

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