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Blogs and Bloggers: How to Not Screw Up, Part 1

Jordan Deatherage

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In ye olden days of marketing, all it took was a good word from the town crier to get people to visit your shoppe. These days, blogging has given us more town criers than villagers. So how do you reach out to bloggers and get them interested in talking about your product / service without stepping in a pile of ye olde you-know-what? We have five simple steps to making it happen.

Blogs: love 'em or hate 'em, you can’t deny their power or pervasiveness. According to BlogPulse, there are currently 163,880,955 identified blogs. WordPress, Tumblr and TypePad, popular blogging platforms, are still recording booming numbers of newly created blogs. It seems blogs and bloggers are here to stay for the time being.

In light of these exciting numbers, this post is part one of a two-part series on blogs. First, we’ll discuss best practices for reaching out to bloggers as brand ambassadors or marketing partners — tenants that shouldn’t change whether you work in pharma, CPG, or another industry. Part two will address the technology and thought-process for implementing a corporate blog.

Part 1: Blogger Outreach

So, what should you consider when starting a blogger outreach program?

Know who you’re pitching

This involves extensive research on the bloggers you’re interested in, and it won’t be a quick process. You could call it having "first date mentality." When you go on a first date, you carefully listen to everything your date is saying, noting what they’re interested in and issues they’re passionate (or dispassionate) about.

The same goes for bloggers. Check blog post tags, About Me sections, various social media profiles and do a good old fashioned Google search to gather all the information you can about them. Learn what makes them mad, family history, past campaigns they’ve slammed and hobbies filling their free time. All this information will help you make a decision if this blogger is a good candidate to work with you, and will help ensure your approach to them is appropriate and relevant.

Know what’s going on

Once you know everything about your potential pitch list, use monitoring tools to gather the pulse of the online communities in which your candidates revolve. For example: Is there a heated discussion going on via Twitter between no-vaccination and pro- vaccination moms? Judge if this is the best time to pitch your story.

Being aware of the 'real’ or offline news and world events is helpful too. Could your pitch be lumped in with a current off-color pop culture story? Better wait a few days for the news cycle to die down.

Don’t forget to check what your competitors have recently done, as well as brands outside your category. Is your execution too similar to a recent campaign? Back to the drawing board (or do it better)!

Be respectful

On the count of three, we should all remove the phrase "let’s get a blogger to do…" from our vocabulary. One, two, three! As marketing practitioners, we’ll never be able to control a blogger — the same way we can’t control the media.

Treat a blogger the same way you would a media contact — with respect and as a professional. Don’t pitch them a project or partnership they would never cover. Being off topic is sometimes more offensive than sending a poorly crafted pitch, as it shows you didn’t do your homework. Pitches should be well-written, short, informative and never start with "Dear <blogger>."

Be up front

No one likes a bad surprise late in the game. Upon first contact, disclose who you work for and your intentions. Also, let bloggers know early on, either in the pitch or follow up email about any legal agreements, compensation, transparency, desired timelines and available resources. Then everyone will have all the information they need to make a decision.

Manage client (or personal) expectations

As stated before, you’ll never be able to make a blogger do something. At the end of the day, a blogger — just like any marketing partner — can miss deadlines, decide they’re uninterested, disagree, or simply go silent. However, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of this happening by starting with solid research and vetting people you believe are truly interested in a partnership with your brand.

This list isn’t meant to discourage partnerships with bloggers, but rather remind you of things to consider when embarking on a project involving blogger outreach. Check back soon for our point of view on turning the tables and starting a corporate blog!

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