Thursday, September 06, 2007

PR Through Bloggers


To add a few of my own thoughts to the last post by Cece Lee, "blogger relations" are becoming as important as media relations in PR strategy. Connecting your content with bloggers is increasingly important for several reasons:
  • Bloggers have increasing influence. As previously reported, when making purchasing decisions, B2B buyers spend more time with social media than any other content except vendor materials, and trust social media more than any other source. Blogs are a key component of the social media B2B buyers are reading.

  • Bloggers tend to be subject matter experts (although some might point to this blog as an exception to that rule). After all, it's difficult to write on a regular basis about a topic outside of one's expertise. That's why, for example, you'll find few Minnesotans who blog about surfing (okay, Graeme Thickens being an exception).

  • Bloggers are passionate about their subjects. They have to be, to write about it week after week, when there's generally very little direct income involved. The average blog generates less than $50 per month in direct advertising income; even uber-blogger and best-selling author David Meerman Scott concedes in his book The New Rules of Marketing & PR that his blog income is "not much money, but every few months I can take my family out for a nice dinner on the proceeds."

  • Bloggers reach a micromarket. While maintstream print publications, even within a specific industry trade category, reach tens or even hundreds of thousands of readers, that audience is necessarily broad. By focusing on niche subject matter, bloggers generally reach a smaller but much more concentrated audience.

So, here are a few of my own observations about how to best approach bloggers. I receive numerous emails each week from PR folks asking me to write about their product or service. Most of these appeals are appalling; a few are very well-crafted (that's how I initially connected with Cece; her first message was one of the latter). I recently received an email from Bill Halpern of Integrateurs International, a telemarketing B2B technology lead generation firm. His message rated a 4-out-of-5 for blogger outreach quality:
  • Excellent subject line: his subject line was "sorry to hear about your problems with junk email on your form"—that told me immediately that he had visited my website, as he could only have come up with that phrase from visiting my contact page.

  • Audience understanding: it was clear from his message that he understood who my audience is (marketers interested in B2B lead generation, particularly in the technology sector).

  • Appropriate topic: related to the above point, his subject (using telemarketing services for technology B2B lead generation) was highly relevant for my readership.

  • Informal, personal style: his writing had a genuine tone and was his message was clearly written to me—not to a list of editors on a media list.

  • Link to thought-leadership content: the one place where Bill's message failed (though he's working on this). Bloggers generally don't like to simply schlep a product or service (unless it's something truly unique), but do like writing about unique and valuable thought-leadership content, such as an insightful and enlightening white paper, article, podcast, blog post or report. And while many bloggers prefer not to simply be on a press release distribution list, they will write about important announcements.

PR professionals looking to effectively reach bloggers would do well to follow Bill's example.

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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