In a world where Tinder exists starting a relationship online shouldn’t be that mystifying. Still, the Internet is saturated with horror stories of companies and their disastrous attempts to court bloggers online. You can find lots of advice on what not to do, what not to say, but how do you own a successful blogger strategy? We’re glad you asked.
You don’t need us to tell you about how much sway bloggers have in today’s consumer market. Blogs are the third-most influential digital resource for consumers when making purchase decisions, only behind ecommerce sites and brand sites. They rank in the top five most trustworthy sources of information on the Internet. If you are still unsure of the trust, popularity and influence bloggers hold, just look at The 2013 Digital Influence report from Technorati.
Let’s start with the golden rule: Blogger outreach isn’t a tactic you apply when you have something to promote, forming online relationships should be an ongoing strategy for your business.
Get it right
Avoid ‘spray and pray’ tactics. Make it relevant
“Too often, companies are not selective when they approach bloggers because they are playing a numbers’ game. This means they are not targeting the right audiences”
When researching bloggers to work with be selective. It’s all about finding the right people for your company. Don’t concern yourself with superficialities such as Twitter followers or Facebook likes. Spend time engaging with the blog and the writer behind it. Is this person a good fit for your brand? (And vice versa) Will what you have to offer genuinely interest them, and more importantly their audience?
Add as friends
Make Friends not foes
When it comes to forming a new relationship with a blogger, it is always best to follow Sally Whittle’s rule of three C’s:
“Comment on their posts and Tweets; Call them by name and if in doubt, send them Chocolate”
In other words, it’s important to be nice. You wouldn’t ask favours and make demands of Joe Bloggs on the street. Get to know them, and let them get to know you. Establish a rapport with the person, take time to comment on blog posts you like, follow and engage with them on Twitter. Not in a spammy way. If you’ve done your research and this blogger is a good fit for your company, chances are you have some stuff in common, and that’s the best way to establish a relationship.
How not to make a pitch
Make it unique
Remember, bloggers are used to getting tonnes of pitches. So avoid carbon copy emails, as Kat Molesworth from Housewife Confidential observes:
“When I see a PR email drop into my inbox, more often than not it represents a drain on my time. A poorly pitched offer which doesn’t fit in with my audience. The good examples shine out like diamonds as they are few and far between. It sounds bleak but there is hope if people adapt.”
And adapting IS easy. When you first write to them, demonstrate an understanding of their blog and what they are about. Offer true value. Show you’ve thought about whether your product or service will be interesting to them and their audience. And above all, be creative with the ideas you pitch them. They’ve probably received 10 product review pitches this week already.
Make it mutual
Great blogger relationships are those that are based on more than just getting you coverage for your brand. Make it mutual. Don’t expect all bloggers to work with you for free. Paying bloggers for their efforts has been the norm for a while. Despite this, many bloggers are still willing to work for free on the right project.
Be transparent about your aims, if you are unable to pay them, be honest. Money doesn’t always talk. Initiate these partnerships with unique opportunities instead – they could trial a test product, be an expert on developing a project, share something exclusive to their audience.
Ultimately, the best advice we can give you is not to go and create a ‘blogger outreach’ strategy, but instead to start building long-term working partnerships with bloggers/influencers in your industry, and as Sally rightly observes, a little chocolate never hurts!
If you’re keen to start your own blogger outreach campaign, but are a little online-relationship shy, get in touch with the team today. No-cheesy chat-up lines necessary, we’re experts at sparking genuine conversations between businesses and bloggers, and building lasting partnerships.
This post is one of a two-part series on blogger outreach. In the next installment, we’ll give you the dos and don’ts of online PR directly from a blogger’s point of view.