Blogging, blogged, blogosphere, blogumentary, blogebrity….. And the list goes on. With the media world constantly evolving, PR agencies shouldn’t be surprised at the new blog-o-phenomenon.
With the birth of digital technologies, the world has unprecedented access to tools of production and dissemination, weakening the power of traditional media conglomerates. The internet has created a global marketplace, not only for goods and services but also for thoughts and opinions. There is now a new age of journalism where consumers not only look to traditional trusted sources for information but also towards opinion leaders both online and offline, and bloggers are now a part of the media revolution. Businesses are thus becoming increasingly concerned by the proliferation of comments which can influence consumer decisions.
With the not-so-recent onset of the blogosphere, it is questionable that despite knowing the value of online chatter, PR agencies are unsure and hesitant about jumping into blogging headfirst, preferring to wait for others to test the water and then observe if these “adventurers” sink or swim.
The Blogger Clout
Print publications and the opinions of your loved ones are valuable news sources. But with the advent of social media, average people are motivated to post online, allowing their thoughts to be verbalised on the digital landscape. Some eventually garner the support of a large majority, turning them into avid bloggers. They have earned the trust and credibility of others, transforming them into the voice and tastemaker of the community.
Today, bloggers have turned into brand powerhouses. They are a passionate bunch of skilled, articulate, and bold individuals who jump headlong into the great self-publishing movement. In this digital era, they have more direct power and influence than ever before.
Bridging the Gap
With the rising influence of bloggers, PR professionals cannot disregard them in pitching for their clients. Focusing on mainstream and social media while ignoring the reign of bloggers’ could be damaging. Instead of dabbling, PR professionals need to first understand, support and respect bloggers and the work that they do. Getting coverage from them will take more than just a good pitch. In light of this, here are some tips for PR professionals to successfully build relationships with bloggers:
Do your Research
Explore their content and following them socially. You can see what kind of writer they are, what kind of approach they are receptive to and what makes them tick. Listening to their voice is one of the most critical pieces to the media relations puzzle.
Be an Active Member of their Community
Make an emotional investment in bloggers. Engage with them directly about their industry and share interesting dialogue about topics they are interested in as well as other relevant topics.
Invite them for social events; Show genuine interest, interact and get to know them better. Understanding them will put both parties on friendly terms. It’ll be easier to get them to pitch and reduces the risk of sending out irrelevant PR stories.
Employ a “What’s in it for them” Thought
Correlate your pitch with their interests. Every blogger has a theme they stick to and attract followers that will only be interested in the topic they cover. Take a step back and try to imagine the blogger’s feature on your client; it has to be as newsworthy to them.
Keep Communication Consistent
Reply to all emails, even if they decline. Follow-up pitch emails. This ensures that all bloggers have a running dialogue with you and you don’t upset anyone in the process; it’ll be difficult to claw your way back into their good books.
Adjust your expectations. Unlike journalists, bloggers are not constrained by tight deadlines. Not every blogger will feature a PR story at the same time. This is why you need to get to know the bloggers you reach out to and their blogging time scale.
The media is every PR’s bread and butter. Being in the PR line is about building mutual and beneficial relationships with all stakeholders and PR professionals need to amass the support of a strong and robust media to build their clients’ reputation. Bloggers are now part of the media family and adopting the above best practices could very well be the winning formula to securing tight relationships for the future.
Posted by Stephanie Robert, Advocate(PR), CorpMedia