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Blogger relations: 5 tips to hone your approach

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Blogger relations continues to be an evolving discipline. I get people are still learning. But, I continue to be surprised at the breadth of SPAM-like pitches from agencies, consultants and organizations that sound like they’re being produced and sent in a factory-like fashion. Isn’t that the exact anti-thesis of what good blogger relations should be?

I’m no expert. You won’t see me claiming to be one. But, I tend to think this whole blogger relations concept is really pretty simple. Let’s walk through this step-by-step:

Do your homework. Once you have your strategy and you know the audience you’re targeting, get to work researching. My favorite resources for blogger research? A combo platter of Technorati (authority), PostRank (rankings) and Alltop (catch-all). There are a few other tools I use, but for the most part, those are the biggies. But remember, it’s not an exact science. It still requires some thoughtful analysis on your part. All these tools help you do is narrow own the pool of “targets.” Once you have that, you need to really dig in and get to know the blogger. Read a few posts. Check out their blogroll. See what they’re saying on Twitter. All that will help you make a more informed decision on whether to keep them on the list or not.

Don’t overlook the “B-listers.” Sometimes, the best approach isn’t to target the A-listers of the world (I hate using that word, but it’s the best way to classify bloggers). Stick with the “B-listers” (for lack of a better term). Why? First, A-listers get so many pitches per week. I’m not sure about an exact number, but I’d be willing to bet it’s in the 10-20 a week range. B-listers, on the other hand, are lucky to get a handful. Big difference when it comes to competing for attention. Second, don’t get lost in the numbers. Yeah, A-listers attract a lot of eyeballs. And, in some cases, you need that reach. But, B-listers sometime offer something much more powerful: Trust. With a capital T. Their communities can be stronger and much more tight-knit. And, as a result, their followers sometimes have more intimate relationships than those who follow A-listers. And, that can translate into perception, attitude and behavior change. Exactly what you’re looking for from a PR perspective, right?

Get to know the blogger. Spend some time getting to know the blogger. As a person. Remember, bloggers are typically strong-willed. Creative. And passionate. The last thing they want to be is stereotyped or lumped in with a larger, more homogenized group. Treat them like a person with unique needs and interests, and you will succeed. Virtually every time. Treat them like a number on a list and, well, you could end like this poor guy that decided to pick a fight with Scott Stratten after what sounds like a horrible initial “pitch.”

Don’t pitch. Collaborate. This is a key ingredient to the blogger relations mix. You’re not pitching the blogger. You’re collaborating with them on a post idea. You’re giving them an idea for future content. You’re helping them. I even go as far as to eliminate the “P” word from my vocabulary when I’m dealing with certain bloggers (and clients). Small difference–but a big one to bloggers.

Don’t be afraid to give it away. Don’t be afraid to give away your most valuable asset–your product, service or knowledge. It might seem counter-intuitive, but it will payoff in the long-run. After all, how can a blogger really get to know your brand without using or experiencing your product or service firsthand. I know it’s a classic case study, but I still go back to Sea World-San Antonio here. Kami Huyse helped put together a wonderful example of how to engage a community of enthusiasts in your brand. You know what made this particular campaign so brilliant? Sea World gave these bloggers full access–and then some. They didn’t just give them a sneak peek at the new ride. They gave them access to the whole park. They gave them media to use for posts when they got home and wanted to write about their experience. And (I’m taking an educated guess here), they treated them as people and folks who were passionate about amusement parks and roller-coasters. Or, look what Chevrolet did with its new Volt at South By Southwest earlier this month. Simple, but smart. Target tech bloggers. Give them the keys to your newest, geeked out car. Ask them for a quick interview. And ask no more.

What tips do you have? What’s worked and what hasn’t?

Photo credit: Stroller Dos

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Blogger relations: 5 tips to hone your approach

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