In certain aspects, targeting bloggers is no different from targeting any other members of the media – reporters, analyst, critics, and the like. You send them information, and if you are persistent enough, and with a little bit of luck, they mention you or your business in their writings. Public Relations 101, essentially.
But it is not quite the same entirely. You do not reach bloggers like you would to newspaper or magazine writers. There are some subtle differences that you need to be aware of.
Like any PR effort, you need to first establish bloggers as real people, not contacts on your list. Sending blanket emails or making cold calls is not going to work. You need to establish the personal relationship with them. Get to know a bit about them, starting with their names because the last thing you want is to communicate with them without knowing their names. Find out what they like, what they do not like. An easy way to this is by reading their blogs. From there, then you will have an idea of their temperament, what excites them, what turns them down, and so forth. The goal is to get inside their minds.
Once you have a grasp of how the blogger thinks, it is time to introduce yourself. Not over unsolicited emails or press release, but by leaving comments on the blogger’s posts. This establishes you as part of the blog’s community and not an outsider trying to seek PR favors.
So, the right approach is to know the blogger via his or her posts and let him or her notice you through your comments. Then, you can attempt to have a direct contact, usually via email. A good start is by introducing yourself and make references to some of his or her posts and your recent comments. Also, let him or her know that you are happy to provide information that may be useful to them. The goal here is to start and nurture the relationship.
And when the time comes where you have some information to publicize, call in your favors. The best way is to email the bloggers to share news relevant to their interest. At the same time, let them know about your product or service with a suggestion that they might want to mention them in their upcoming posts. Highlight to them on how their readers will likely be interested in the benefit of the information and offer more resources if they need them.
To better help yourself on this task, it is beneficial that you know the bloggers’ way of working, namely their working hours and mode of communication. Unlike a conventional reporter who has a 9-to-5 workday, bloggers tend to work on many flexible hours. Some of them may even have day jobs and only blog during their free time, for example. In this case, it is helpful to contact them in the evenings or during weekends.
Additionally, you will want to communicate online with the bloggers because both of you are working online. This means email instead of postal mails, instant messaging instead of phone calls. In any case, you should find out their preferred method of communication and go that route.
In terms of the message that you are sending the bloggers, compile them into an electronic press kit and send them via email. The email message itself should serve as the press release. For product photos or other supporting items, attach them in your email.
The email press release should also include a backlink to whatever that you are promoting – company’s website, landing page, and so forth. Keep in mind to always send the blogger’s followers to a web page that is relevant to what the blogger is writing. Also, you should include your contact information in your emails so that the blogger may contact you easily if more information is needed.
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Very often, bloggers want to personalize the information that they post. So, do not expect an exact representation of your email press release to appear in their post, but help them to translate your message so that it adds value to their blogs.
You should also be aware that bloggers do not receive traditional press release too well. So, you should format your press release so that it is more conversational and personal. Use of bullet point to highlight key topics in such a way that it benefits the blogger and the blog’s readers. In all, this means customization of your content to suit different bloggers. It may be cumbersome sometimes, but it is effort well spent.
In terms of which blogger that you should be targeting, an effective way is to research and find out blogs which are relevant to your business. Identify those which are influential in your line of business and have the most followers. These are the ones that matter.
Once identified, you should treat these bloggers as members of the mainstream press and as very close friends.
In fact, they will be your friends but with very different set of mindsets. So, do not expect to tell them what to write. You can suggest all you want but in the end, they will do whatever they are pleased with and there is nothing more than that. In short, bloggers are not corporate drones and they do not work for you. Most of them cannot be controlled but yet are very important individuals with their own opinions, and should be treated as such.