If you haven’t started engaging bloggers for your PR or marketing effort yet, here’s a nifty little article that helps you think about what to do just before you start: How To Talk To Bloggers via Media.Asia. I really like how the article starts right off the bat by deconstructing a common assumption: “Talking to bloggers is only more hassle than it’s worth if you don’t know how to. If you think all it takes is giving away a free gift, you’re never going to make any progress with your blogger relations.” That is, it isn’t easy to get a blogger to blog about you, if you’ve not done your home work and that it’s not all about the freebies (well, not ONLY about the freebies, at least).
The key steps to engaging a blogger:
- Listen to what your target blogger is saying and listen very closely. This golden rule of communication is underestimated by too many. Most bloggers see their blogs as an intimate avenue of self-expression and thus their online musings offer good insights and clues to their likes and dislikes.
- Don’t just target base on audience size – look for brand synergies. Too many brands make the mistake of targeting bloggers simply because they have a large readership base, but that alone is not good enough. More importantly, you should consider whether they are relevant to your brand.
- Engage bloggers as people – because that’s what they are. There’s no point running a blogger outreach programme if you don’t spend time engaging with the individuals themselves. Provide them with an overview of your product, show them how to use it, give them an opportunity to ask questions and find out what’s so great about it. Make yourself useful by sharing some good tips and tricks.
- Start by taking small steps to build a relationship. Show bloggers that you want to get to know them, read their blog posts and leave pertinent comments. Saying “great blog post!” is not enough. Sincere and thought-provoking comments count and, trust me, bloggers can tell. Always, always be honest and authentic. And if they are on Twitter, which most influential bloggers are, follow them and engage in conversation on this microblogging platform too.
Don’t just rely on the virtual world, get physical too. Attend blogger events, meet-ups and tweet-ups. Identify and attend regular events in your local market. For example, in Singapore, there’s a Social Media Breakfast (SMB) event where bloggers, PR practitioners and anyone else gather to network and talk about all things social media. It’s a great event to start building contacts and identify potential brand advocates as well as naysayers.
Don’t just collect a few namecards and call it a day. You’ll need to build and grow the relationships over time. Continue to engage with them both online and offline, don’t just leave it to the next time you have a product launch.