Normal service has resumed here at aCupOfLee and I’m in the midst of a crazy week of client media launches, Christmas gift guides and a certain small person’s 7th birthday.
But the highlight of my week has surely been receiving the latest guest blog post from one of the students I was interviewed by back in the Spring. As part of my Student Series I offered the opportunity for the university students I’ve worked with to have a go turning their projects into pieces of online digital communications, honing a real-world industry skill.
I’m so pleased Jessica has decided to take part in the series because her dissertation subject was pertinent to me, as both a PR and blogger, but is also important research considering existing academic studies in the digital sphere are still thin on the ground.
She has usefully condensed her findings into Do’s and Don’ts Tips for practitioners:
Blogger Relations: The Do’s and Don’ts
Since Grunig’s two-way symmetrical model became the communication system of choice for PR professionals, combined with the evolution of web 2.0, PRs have become increasingly fascinated by the power of the blogger. For a brand trying to talk to their target market, bloggers with their niche audiences, authenticity, and natural creativity have highlighted endless possibilities for modern day communications.
After an intensive review of the blogger definition (hobbyist vs. self-proclaimed expert), blogger motivations, and the blogging lifecycle, I could easily see PR’s obsession with constructing a relationship with this New Media, but it was also evident that building a bond with these new digital personas was different to traditional media relations which practitioners had become accustomed to.
In my qualitative dissertation project I interviewed well-known local bloggers and experienced PR professionals and have put together this practical guide to blogger relations.
- Do your homework – A quick google, a peek on their social media and blog, you can learn a lot about someone in 5 minutes. Assess the type of person the blogger is, what they’ve recently written about, how they layout their blog! A little research will generate better hooks and help you sell-in your story better.
- Be open – Bloggers are very creative beings. Don’t just send them a boiler plate press release and expect them to do a copy and paste job (for SEO considerations if nothing else), send them the info and approach them with unique ideas that they can contribute to.
- Embrace the Social Media Release (SMR) – The press release got an upgrade. The SMR is fully equipped for all blogger intents and purposes and includes SEO tags, social media links, video content, and enough images for a gallery.
- Be personable – Hone those social media stalking skills and use them for the greater good! A quick snoop on a blogger’s social media channels will reveal a lot about their lifestyle, interests, what’s featuring on their blog, and in turn provide endless talking points. You can even begin discourse with a blogger you don’t know on social media channels, simply by commenting, liking and supporting their posts.
- Never BCC – It’s impersonal, and honestly you shouldn’t really be doing it to anyone. Shame on you BCC-ers!
- Bend the knee – There’s a bit of a misconception that PR practitioners need bloggers more than they need us, let’s just dispel this myth. When a relationship degrades down into one person benefitting more than the other, it’s not a relationship anymore. By all means compromise but strive for a balance, as one of my interviewee’s eloquently described it: “there should be a symbiosis of the two”.
- Buy their love – Of course everyone loves free stuff, but don’t assume that because you delivered a free box of cookies that the recipient is obliged to write a full blog post on it. Carefully consider what you’re sending and whether they align with the blogger’s signature content… really, what would that politics blogger do with the latest tanning formula? Similarly, ask yourself, do you want to expose your brand to a writer who will upload anything willy-nilly because of a freebie, OR do you want a genuine brand advocate who will accurately represent the campaign’s key messages?
Like all relationships, the PR-Blogger rapport is a minefield, but like a friendship, a little bit of effort (from both parties) can help you navigate it.
Truth be told there will never be definitive guide on the best way to establish and nurture a blogger-PR relationship. I’ve been officially in the industry for nearly 6 months and I’ve been entertained to no end by seeing the conclusions of my Final Year dissertation play out.
Perhaps Leanne will invite me back for Blogger Relations Part II but until then the best advice is to go forth, do your best, and be nice to everyone.
Jessica Fok recently bagged herself a well-deserved role at Massive PR and runs a blog of her own. You can connect with her on Twitter (@JessicaFokPR) and Instagram (@f.o.k) - and Jessica is welcome back anytime!