Building Relationships with Bloggers

Two more sessions to go. I’m hoping this is a session about how to convince people to give me free stuff! It’s not? Oh. Can I leave?

Fine, I’ll stay.

There’s one of those giant easels with a paper ream situated in the front of the room. You know what I’m talking about, right? The ones they used on Win, Lose or Draw? I guess this session is going to get all sorts of interactive. Sexy!

We start off with introductions. Our two speakers today are Marc Harty and Brian Solis. My tummy is rumbling. I hope people can’t hear it.

Oh dear, this could be embarrassing.

What do we mean by blogging relationships? Is it relationship building or stalking? Brian says we all have to remember that it’s about people. We’re all groomed into writing press releases. That’s how we get information into the hands of writers, but that’s not what the bloggers are looking for. It’s not about spam. It’s about developing relationships with people.

Marc says to build a relationship you have to be personable. It’s not broadcast. You’re trying to build something one on one with somebody. Brian says that when you start with the art of blogging relations, you have to think about why you’re reaching out to them. Who are your customers/your audience? There’s not one audience anymore? You can have groups of bloggers or writers that need to hear things in different ways. You can’t just create one pitch.

The Art of Relationship

It starts by being smart. Some of the best relationships Brian has created started out by working with the Business Development team. You have to understand where you want to be. Are you targeting the A-list or the magic middle (more peer-to-peer engagement)?

The biggest complaint from bloggers about PR people is that they don’t take the time to get to know what the blogger likes, doesn’t like, is looking for, etc. Brian mentions the whole Chris Anderson fiasco where Chris gave PR people a slap in the face outing those members of the press that he thought were lazy flacks because they don’t customize their pitch emails.

A lot of times PR people just don’t engage with the customer product because it’s just a machine. There’s no reason the PR people can’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to a product. It’s the difference between selling a story and telling a story. You’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t do your research and learn about the people you’re trying to target and pitch to.

Marc says you need to approach bloggers from multiple directions. Have a mutual friend contact the blogger on your behalf. Find a good article a blogger has written and submit it to some of the social media sites. Get yourself on their radar. Bloggers are obsessed with their traffic. Show them that you’re putting them first.

Brian mentions 43 Folders, saying they demonstrate perfectly how they want to be reached. 43 Folders said if you want us to cover you, bookmark your story in Delicious using our tag.

Digg the stories of bloggers. Know how the bloggers you’re interested in consume their information. For example, if you want to reach Robert Scoble, do it via Twitter or Facebook. One of the best ways to build a relationship is to build it before you need something. Leave comments on their blogs. Link to them. It’s about quality not quantity. Read their blogroll and see who they read and like.

Sometimes you can go through the front door, but sometimes you can also utilize the back door. Bloggers are starved for content. Give them something fun and unifying. There are a lot of ways to start a conversation.

Brian says bloggers should lay out how they want to be contacted by PR people. Help PR people work for you. It’s a two way street. Bloggers have a responsibility to cover the market the best they can.

Brian thinks of blogger relations as the new era of customer service. Customer service used to be just about customers calling into a company. The blogosphere is filled with people who have opinions and these bloggers are customers. You don’t need a press release to get something written.

Tools to Find Bloggers?

The most obvious way is to start using a news aggregator where you can look at the topics that are of interest to you and your company. Learn what is being said.

He list off a number of tools:

  • These are tools that you can find out back history about how much traffic the site is getting, who’s linking to it and other info.
  • Competitious: Lets you create projects where you can track info on a company or Web site in a centralized location.
  • Wayback Machine
  • Technorati: You can search by keywords and blogs that cover those keywords. Allows you to sort by authority, as well.
  • BlogPulse: Use for tracking conversations around certain topics or companies.

Take your content and try to shape it and reformat it into something that will be more appealing to those you want to cover it. You will have to do a little bit of extra work but it will pay off. The blogosphere is about conversation, not pitchiness. A press release has no business in blogger relations. You don’t need that BS.

The Blueprint

The Six C’s of Blogger Relations

  1. Concept: The concept permeates the brand. Motel 6 – We’ll leave the light on. What little twist can you use to make your story unique?
  2. Context: You don’t go out with the same message and broadcast to every blogger out there. Put your message in context for them. Show bloggers the connection. Marc likes to be controversial in his press releases.
  3. Consumption: What’s the best/easiest way to make it possible for your audience to consume the information you’re sharing with them? The beauty of social media is that it makes production a lot easier. You can create a specific video for a blogger and send it to them.
  4. Credibility: What makes you credible to be talking about a certain subject? Demonstrating expertise is done by participating in the blogosphere and social media. You should be showing your insights and observations. There are different forms of credibility. You’re trying to build an information pyramid to show that you have a solid foundation.
  5. Community: Join the community, but don’t join with an agenda. Add value. Participation is marketing.
  6. Conversation: Just because you send out a story and time passes, the conversation can continue. That’s the beauty of links. Brian talks about a two year old article that made TechMeme.

Brian wrote the Social Media Manifesto.

Question & Answer

How do you explain the value of tracking down bloggers and brand ambassadors to your client?

Brian says it’s different for everybody. For some of his clients traffic a metric, for others its sales. The good thing about social media is that it’s almost instant. Regardless of whether your client is in the conversation, the conversation is still happening. There’s a lot of data you can show clients to show its value. Track your client’s competitor in the blogosphere and show the client the attention they’re getting.

What recommendations to you have for bloggers who want to reach out to the PR agencies?

Brian: Let’s start by doing it. He says he doesn’t get a lot of inbound requests from bloggers. He’s trying to find ways to bridge a relationship because it’s not happening on its own. Obviously, the bigger the company is the more bloggers are propelled to reach out.

Bloggers need marketing and PR too. Do you ever help marketers promote their site?

A lot of this is happening right now. It’s that old saying, "if you build it, they will come". Just because you post doesn’t mean anyone will read it. You have to do PR for the posts. Brian has been working bloggers to assemble a Digg armada or do Facebook marketing. Right now it’s a lot of experimenting.

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

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One Reply to “Building Relationships with Bloggers”


This is an amazing recap. Thanks for being there and thank you for writing this!


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