Far too many brands dismiss bloggers as hobbyists added to a low tier on a media list merely to be spammed with marketing emails. 

This is a short-sighted attitude and, rather than a bolt-on, a bloggers’ role in the customer decision journey and as part of a link-building strategy needs to be fully understood.

Bloggers matter. While many brands and agencies have grasped this concept, not everyone is engaging bloggers in a mutually constructive way. Even though blogging has matured, blogger relations is still a massive area for improvement.

Let me tell you a personal story, and if you’re a blogger I hope you’ll nod along to this. I run two blogs in my spare time: The Guest Ale is a beer reviews site with 2,000-4,000 unique visits a month, many from search engines, while Outside Write is a nascent “thinking fan’s football blog”.

As part of a recent internal training session I ran on how bloggers work I showed my colleagues some of the approaches I receive from PRs, having made my way onto various distribution lists over the years for The Guest Ale.

Despite a clear Notes for PRs section, 75% of the emails I receive are not beer-related. These include invitations to visit new Greek restaurants, warnings on the dangers of fad diets, new toy launches, a property expo invitation, cocktail recipes and wine events.

Few of them were personalised and many were certainly not well researched. Worse still, some were addressed ‘Dear Blogger’. #Fail.

Ignore bloggers at your peril

We’ve covered the ‘proactive’ element – reaching out to bloggers. Then there’s the ‘reactive’ element. As a blogger, irrespective of the size of your following, there is nothing worse than being ignored if you’ve written about their product bought out of your own pocket, especially if positive.

A great number of my beer reviews citing a brand go unshared or unfavourited by those companies on Twitter, this includes supermarkets and brewers who have sent me samples in the first place as part of their blogger relations!

This isn’t just bad manners, it shows a lack of good Twittership from those brands in understanding that these people are advocates with spheres of influence.

Bloggers will also think twice about reviewing your products going forward.

How to run a successful blogger relations programme

Rather than viewing bloggers as a bolt-on set of low-tier media, brands need to understand where those influencers fit into the decision making journey of their target audiences.

For example, I mentioned most of The Guest Ale’s traffic comes from search, and I know from Google Analytics, which brands in particular are benefiting, even when reviews are sometimes four years old; my positive reviews fit into the ‘Consideration’ stage of that journey, as those people already entered a branded search to learn more about that product.

Many of those reviews will also form part of the ‘Discovery’ stage as I unveil new beers to my small but engaged community on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and RSS.

As well as being potential advocates in the decision making journey, bloggers can help provide those diverse and authoritative inbound links that Google loves so much, so should form an integral part of a SEO PR strategy.

To summarise, follow this checklist with bloggers:

  • Read the blog
  • Search for your brand, industry space and competitors. Have they written about you/your competitors before? Is there a new angle you can offer?
  • Personalise your approach
  • Understand how the blogger works
  • Be clear on what you want out of the relationship
  • Build database on relevant information and update regularly so you don’t miss-target
  • Research blogger on all social media: that’s a sure way to understand their interests and segue intros
  • Be helpful
  • Offer exclusive content: bloggers want unique content that no other blogs have. How can you help?
  • Share coverage on your social networks

Blogger relations is a long-term programme. Some bloggers will grow and grow, while others disappear. Some may even take up media careers and become even more influential.

They will always remember which brands treated them well, and those who ignored them. Which one will you be?

Chris Lee

Published 10 April, 2015 by Chris Lee

Chris Lee is a freelance digital consultant, trainer and copywriter. He is also @CMRLee on Twitter.

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Comments (5)

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Vicki Day, Director at Pure Sauce Retail

Hallelujah ……….. Run’s round the office with her hands in the air
You have hit the nail on the head many times when I query dumb ass policies with brands and retailers such as why have you sent me product which I clearly love and have now sold for you have you not tweeted my post or added to Facebook and the respond is always something stupid super dumb level of stupid ……… and as I don’t play well with stupid so I now do my own thing.
My top tip to retailers and brands is joining up the dots, get everyone in the same room including all the areas you out source it makes sense and affects your bottom line.
This article has cheered my week up ………..

almost 3 years ago

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Chris Monkman, Web Developer at E-Dzine

Wait.... hold the phone a second.

You're telling me you can set up a blog to review stuff and you've managed to convince brewers to send samples?

Right then, time for me to get on with building my spirit review blog (180+ in the personal collection and I've hosted tasting sessions before on a professional level so not as outlandish as it might seem).

almost 3 years ago

Chris Lee

Chris Lee, Founder at Silvester & Finch Ltd.

Thanks Vicki - quality control within comms remains a challenge. It's the same for journalist outreach from PRs - a great deal of that is perceived as untargeted 'spam'.

almost 3 years ago

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin, Head of SEO and Analytics at Personal

Definitely was nodding along to this, Chris. I receive a growing number of press releases from a handful of companies for a history blog I own. Some, I've never run with, because they've sent me such a poorly targeted, impersonal press release, that I don't feel compelled to waste my readers' time (and risk alienating them).

A small number of companies, who know me by first name, and 'get' what my focus is, do take the time to work out what is right to send to me, and when occasionally they do miss the mark a bit, they respect my decision not to publish.

It's my blog, and my audience, and I'll protect that.

almost 3 years ago

Chris Lee

Chris Lee, Founder at Silvester & Finch Ltd.

Chris - yes, I originally set it up as I was learning how to brew beer and wanted inside tips on flavours and ingredients, but everyone's setting up a brewery nowadays so I just stuck to reviews. Worth doing.

Andrew - thanks for your input. Too often PRs see the influencer (journalist/blogger) as 'the audience' rather than the *real* audience, which is the priority for the writer. Without the audience, there is no media. Period.

almost 3 years ago

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