7 golden rules to successful blogger relations
Bloggers are a key part of “new journalism”, driven by the rise of social media. They offer a highly credible source for people with similar interests. Indeed the high degree of trust they build among readers, the scope for rapid word-of-mouth content sharing, and their subsequent ability to influence purchase decisions, makes them an important audience for companies. But blogger relations are delicate. Different rules apply to bloggers compared with ‘traditional’ media audiences, and if bloggers are handled in the wrong way, it can misfire spectacularly. So what are the key things we should be aware of?
1. A blanket PR approach won’t work
Bloggers are not usually journalists, rather enthusiasts who share their passion for a particular topic in their spare time. They are generally not interested in packaged press information, company brochures or a flood of background information. It is irritating for bloggers to receive irrelevant information, so make sure you do your research. You need to know the content of their blog and the subjects, which are most important to the blogger. What is important for them is material that is specifically relevant to their blog that gets to the heart of the matter, summarising the information they need for their articles.
2. First contact: Don’t be over-familiar
Just because bloggers are less formal than journalists doesn’t give you the right to start from that level of informality; they are not your friend (yet!). For the initial contact a tactful approach is called for.
The tone of the first mail should be polite and professional, without being too corporate. First and foremost be genuine – everyone appreciates a friendly, honest voice.
3. Keep a record
Always keep a database of all conversations with all bloggers. That way you’ll know which ones don’t want to be contacted in a particular way, or who have made specific requests in previous communications. The advantage of contact through an agency is that the agency will manage this, and the blogger has an easily reachable person who will devote sufficient time for cooperation.
4. Provide real value
The key to cooperation with bloggers lies in being able to provide genuine value. You need to provide bloggers with a reason to engage with you. This can mean a lot of work and the time required should not be underestimated. Each blog may need different information, use different pictures and present different products. Even with blogs dealing with the same or similar topics, it may not be possible to reuse the same material.
5. Make sure you can be fast and flexible
As a rule, bloggers work individually and for themselves. They decide according to their own discretion whether a topic is suitable for their blog, when an article will be published and perhaps whether to delay its publication spontaneously. In their manner of working, bloggers are thus very flexible and react quickly. This flexibility and speed will also be expected of their collaborators: Endless rounds of correction and approval loops are unknown to bloggers. For that reason questions should not take a week to answer.
6. Clarify any agreements in email
It is not usual practice to develop a contract for cooperation with bloggers. However, the services and sharing of information agreed should at least be set out in an email, so as not to disappoint mutual expectations and to keep an overview. This assists the bloggers as well as the agency.
7. Be ethical!
It should go without saying, but provide all appropriate disclosures (of your relationship with a brand or company) and assume the blogger will do the same publically on their blog. If you invite bloggers to events, depending on your country’s codes of practice, it is completely standard practice to cover expenses. Of course that does not mean that bloggers are paid to repeat prescribed opinions or disseminate specified messages. It simply means that bloggers are compensated for the time they invest and as appreciation for the work involved.
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