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Blogger Outreach and the Specialty Food Industry

Food is a hugely popular blogging topic. According to FoodBuzz, a resource for all sorts of information related to food blogging, there are over 4,223 popular food blogs registered on that site alone, at the time of this writing. And Technorati, a much more authoritative resource when it comes to blogging in general, lists some 15,405 independent food blogs, ranging from extensions of huge brands to the smallest mommy food blogger that ever was.

Make no mistake, food, and blogging goes together like PB&J and a glass of milk. In my line of work, I speak to a lot of foodies, and one foodie even said to me that she wished she was a food blogger, just so she could sample and review my client’s food.

And that is the essence of what this article is about. Blogger outreach and specialty food, and what one has to do with the other.

Along Came a Food Review

Food blogging hasn’t been around long enough to be saying things like, “remember when,” but there was a time when food blogging meant writing restaurant reviews or posting recipes, and that was it. Now, restaurant reviews are nothing to write home about. They’ve been around as long as society sections have been in newspapers. Everyone is used to restaurant reviews.

Food reviews are now commonplace as well, but they are (or, were, before blogger outreach) largely isolated to food magazines or major publications.

If you’ve ever tried to get into a food magazine or into a major publication, you know what I mean when I say, good luck. Even the savviest PR professionals have a tough time pitching to food magazines, which pride themselves on being able to sniff out the coolest products on earth using their super-sharp sense of new food smell.

But when bloggers started reviewing foods, these same savvy PR pros caught on to the potential. Sure, one blogger writing about your food is cool. But what about 10? What if 100 wrote about it? What if all 100 wrote about it all at the same time?

What if all 100 wrote about your new food at the same time, and that time happened to be just before the holiday shopping season began?

Tapping Into Potential

Too bad blogger outreach isn’t as easy as my last paragraph suggests. Finding 100 bloggers who will sample and review your food – in a positive, helpful way – is no cakewalk. However, it is worth it. And the beauty is that anyone can tap into this potential, from the smallest artisan food producer in Wyoming to the newest brand in SOHO.

Part of tapping into the potential of blogger outreach is understanding what blogger outreach really is. We’re going to break down blogger outreach into three main purposes as it pertains to specialty food:

  1. Exposure and Awareness
  2. Reach
  3. Endorsement

Exposure and Awareness

Since Blogger outreach is more than food reviews, it’s important for me to talk first about the potential for exposure and awareness. Remember this: no matter how small you are, you can seem huge when you learn how to maximize the Internet.

Whether you are seeking 100 positive reviews, or seeking to put your banner ad on 100 blogs, or seeking to personally connect with 100 prolific food bloggers, you will dramatically increase your exposure and awareness using blogger outreach.

Take the 100 blogger number, and then multiply it by 100, which can be used to represent their readership. No one really knows what the average readership is of a food blog, but let’s just go with 100 since it’s just as likely to be more than 100 as it is to be less. Readership, in the way I’m using it here, means visits PER DAY. I’m not talking about subscribers here or social media followers. I’m talking about people who actually go and read something on that blog every day.

You should now be able to imagine how powerful blogger outreach can be for exposure. If no one has ever heard of your product before, they certainly will after successful blogger outreach.

Reach

Reach is the real, actual number of times someone will come in contact with your brand as a result of blogger outreach.

First, consider the number of bloggers you reach out to. Try to make it 100. That’s huge, and it’s okay that it seems grand. The more, the better. Remember, Technorati lists over 15,000 food blogs. Surely you can make contact with 100 of them.

Second, consider the number of people who will see that blog post into Internet eternity. See, a blog post lives on long after it is published, usually. Years, even. Blogs are not like newspapers. Their “news” isn’t really news most of the time, and most food-related posts are evergreen. If someone goes looking for your product three years after a blogger writes about it, he or she may happen upon that blog entry, read the review and decide then and there that the product is worth trying.

Third, consider the number of people who will go on to write about your brand after seeing someone else do it. I don’t mean this in a derogatory way, but many bloggers are copycats. They quickly pick up on trending topics and scurry off to write about them on their own blogs. And many, many food bloggers will notice another blogger writing about a giveaway or promotion, and then rush to contact the brand so that they can get in on it, too.

Put all three of those numbers together and what you get is some exponential factor. The point is that you cannot possibly know how big the effect of your blogger outreach can be.

What you do now know is that you cannot afford to miss out.

Endorsement

Maybe you think your brand is the bee’s knees. Maybe you even say that in your branding. Maybe you’ve got your wife and kids and their friends and your real estate broker to tell everyone that you’re the bee’s knees, too.

Here’s the problem: No one really cares all that much about what you and your family think about your product. But they DO care about what Susan from Wisconsin and Jerry from Boca Raton and Maria from Dallas think about it. They care a lot. Because maybe ‘they’ are friends with one of those people, or perhaps they read their blogs every day and have come to know, like, and trust the opinions of Susan, Jerry, and Maria.

Let’s go back to the number 100 again. 100 endorsements. Now, not all reviews are going to be amazing, positive, or even worth the time it would take to read them. But let’s just say that 87 bloggers agreed with you that your specialty food was the bee’s knees.

87 raving endorsements!? Are you kidding me? Do you have any idea the kind of visibility you would have with that many published reviews all over the place? There are 50 states, and if you managed to get a review from all 50 states and then several handfuls from the popular metropolitan areas, you could officially start a trend.

Think big with blogger outreach because it is worth it.

The Reality: It Takes Time and Effort

I’ll close with this. Blogger outreach, especially food blogger outreach, takes a lot of time, a lot of effort, and sometimes it takes a lot of money (postage, packaging, materials, production time, etc.). It’s not easy to do yourself, and you need a strategy for how to find bloggers, how to know which are good, how to find contact information, how to reach out to them, and how to follow up.

But it’s simply not one of those things that you should pass up anymore. Take the opportunity to imagine the possibilities and what your brand could look like after a successful blogger outreach campaign? Could you be the next Pop Chips or Chobani?

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