Blogger relations is a popular topic of discussion these days, not just on the blogosphere, but within the HR departments of PR agencies and businesses alike. It’s something new and perceived to require a very different skill set than most PR and communications professionals possess.
Therefore new job positions are opening up in an attempt to hire people who understand the art of blogger relations and, if that doesn’t work, hire anyone who blogs – regardless of industry and communications experience. After all, if you blog, then you must understand company value propositions, marketing, customer relations, and ultimately why all of this matters to the people you’re trying to reach right?
Well, not exactly.
Several companies that I work with, advise, or simply know of, have hired bloggers to handle blogger relations, even if they haven’t engaged in the process before. Their thinking? Bloggers know the game, so they must understand how to get posts written on their behalf.
I can tell you from personal experience, that anyone half decent in media or blogger relations will tell you that it has less to do with the mechanics of publishing media and more to do with story telling, an understanding of what you represent, why it matters to those you’re trying to reach, and a genuine intent for cultivating relationships.
I’d love to simply say that Blogger Relations is about common sense, but we all know how uncommon common sense really is.
In order to genuinely approach blogger relations, or media relations for that matter, we must first deconstruct the process of the media ecosystem and reprogram ourselves to tap into the basic building blocks of what makes good content and sparks conversations, which in turn helps define why people should make the effort to talk with us.
Like the press release, the PR industry has been stuck in a rut for so long that the industry is content with the existing manufacturing line of building news, writing reports, schmoozing, and simply broadcasting messages to anyone with an inbox.
PR is experiencing some of the greatest innovations and advancements in quite some time due in large part to all things Social Media. But instead of embracing a new and improved commitment for creating and sharing news with people, we’re using the same old marketing ethics and tactics to spam our recipients.
Well like good media and analyst relationships, blogger relations is about people.
First and foremost, blogger relations is about respect. It all starts with understanding what you stand for. Seriously, how many PR people actually take the time to really “get” what it is they represent and why it matters to the rest of us. And, more importantly, how will it help me?
Here’s a test.
Quickly, the timer’s running.
Tell me in one sentence why I should write about you and why my readers will care.
It’s amazing at how many “PR Pros” can’t pass this test. Trust me. I am pitched every day, and it blows me away at how few people take the time to read what I write and match their products/services to the most important part of this blog, you.
That’s right. It all starts with listening and reading.
The next step is to really think about why you should reach out. What is it about what you represent that will compel someone to share it with their community. Remember, a blogger has a responsibility to their readers in order to maintain credibility, along with the trust of the community. In today’s attention economy, they must actively compete for their precious time, so you can bet that any good blogger is going to be selective.
Oh trust me, I know you’re thinking, “Who has time to do this? To dedicate one-on-one time with bloggers in addition to traditional media exceeds the amount of hours in a day!”
Let me say this as clear as possible, “make the time.”
Just prioritize the people you want to reach.
Which reminds me of a discussion that recently played out at TurnPRon, a conference in San Francisco where I recently presented on a panel discussing the future of Public Relations. At one point, someone had asked why we should “waste” our time chasing down every blogger that covers our markets when we could just focus on the top, the cream of the crop as he said, as they are the true influencers out there.
While there is an a-list for every market, trust me when I say that the a-list helps with the credibility of a brand, but does very little for generating new customers or enhancing brand loyalty. The true influencers are the peers of your customers.
The best communications strategies will envelop not only authorities in new and traditional media, but also those voices in the “Magic Middle” of the attention curve. They help carry information and discussions among your customers directly in a true peer-to-peer approach. The Magic Middle is defined as the bloggers who have from 20-1000 other people linking to them. It is this group that enables PR people to reach The Long Tail, and it’s effects on the bottom line are measurable.
Your campaigns should never be limited to either blogs or press, nor should it simply focus on the Top 100 list at Techmeme, Technorati or any other service. You need to be where your customers are discovering, sharing, and talking.
Blogger relations is all about people. And sometimes the greatest influencers are those who are already among the customers you hope to reach.
Blogger Relations Part I
Remix on Now is Gone
Photo Credit: Julia Allison