Build Brand Buzz through Blogger Relations

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Person-BloggingIn a PR pro’s world, what’s better than a group of thought leaders spreading the positive word about your brand?

Besides this summer’s World Cup-gone-social case study, I’d lean toward nothing.

To achieve that ultimate brand buzz dream, you need a thorough, targeted blogger-relations strategy. When executed well, blogger engagement will give your brand third-party credibility among its target consumer audience.

But unlike Clint Dempsey, PR pros can’t score big within the first 30 seconds of a blogger-outreach campaign. It requires research, patience, engagement and an overall good product or service for blogger relations to succeed. Here’s how to start:

1. Find your niche bloggers. Fight the urge to mass distribute to a media list; opt for quality instead. Complement a database media list with hands-on research. Tools like Twitter’s Advanced Search can help you find niche bloggers with a substantial social following. Let’s say, for example, you’re a cheese brand. Search “cheese AND blog” in the Advanced Search words section, and you’ll get a list of hundreds of people who blog and have a special place in their heart for cheese. Bingo.

2. Read their content. Before pitching, take time to read each blogger’s content to see how your brand fits, then reference specific posts during outreach. Let’s go back to that delicious cheese example. If you’re pitching a food blogger, point out some cheese-specific posts and tie in why he/she would love your brand. Did he/she write about a new Gouda dish? Share a tasty recipe that makes your specific cheese irresistible. By using this approach, you 1) prove you read their blog, 2) highlight your cheese’s unique attributes, and 3) illustrate how your product can be repurposed for content beyond that initial review post.

3. Set reasonable expectations up front. As new PR pros, we’re under tight, demanding deadlines every day. But, keep in mind that most bloggers write in their spare time, and they’re under similar pressures during their day jobs, too. From the beginning, set reasonable deadlines you both agree on for product reviews, tweeting, etc. And always remember: It’s the blogger’s site – not yours. It’s his/her prerogative to stick to blog guidelines and write about what best serves the audience.

4. Engage regularly. Have your solid group of bloggers secured? Nice work. Now it’s time to prove you’re a good partner. Share their content, +1 their updates, comment on their posts or tag them in tweets they’d find interesting (within reason, of course). When executed well, a blogger-relations campaign is mutually beneficial: They help your brand reach new audiences, and you help their blog reach new readers.

5. Have a good product. Cue the “duh” reaction here – of course your product is wonderful – but hear me out. Sometimes PR pros are asked to promote an unfamiliar product. Because it’s new, they may not know or recognize the product’s flaws – but the blogger will. And, depending on the blogger, this could result in a severed relationship or, worse, a negative review (followed by a “good riddance”). If you’re uncertain about a product, test it out firsthand, or see what the review sites say. By doing your homework, you could save your brand’s reputation while helping improve its product.

As you embark on your blogger relations journey, remember that quality trumps quantity. And, while time consuming, this thorough strategy will have reputable thought leaders building powerful brand buzz among your target audience. Now that deserves a hashflag raise, don’t you think?

Do you work with bloggers? What tips do you have for a successful blogger-relations campaign?

Stephanie Vermillion headshotStephanie Vermillion is a senior account executive at Wordsworth Communications, a public relations agency in Cincinnati. She is on the PRSA Cincinnati Leadership Team and is part of the PRSA Cincinnati New Pros Committee. Connect with Stephanie on LinkedIn and Twitter (@SMVermillion).

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