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How to build a better blogger outreach list

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If you work in the digital PR world, chances are it won’t be long until you’re asked by a client, boss or colleague to build a blogger outreach list.

Much like building media lists though, it’s a little more time-consuming than you might think. And, the tools aren’t nearly as sophisticated as the ones on the traditional side of the house.

For example, there still isn’t a definitive resource or tool that allows us to search for blogs by locale or geographic region (at least to my knowledge). Some tools may allow you to get close–but it’s fairly time consuming.

So, how do you go about cobbling together an effective list? I try to take a few simple steps (without over-complicating it):

1–Start with the big three (Alltop, Postrank and Technorati). Each tool has a slightly different purpose. Alltop is great for a general scan of the landscape. Postrank is nice for, well, rankings. Based on the “5 Cs”, Postrank can give you a fairly good indication of where a blog stands in its industry niche. Finally, Technorati is useful for figuring our “authority” levels of certain blogs. The key is simple: Individually, none of these resources is the sole answer. But, together they can provide you with an initial scan of the blogosphere in the niche you are searching.

2–Look for local blog lists and resources. Sometimes, you’re just looking for blogs in a particular region or market. In those cases, local resources may yield the best results. For example, right here in Minneapolis/St. Paul there’s a nice site named Newsbobber that ranks local blogs according to a simple formula. Or, my friend’ Paul DeBettignies has a nice running list of Minnesota-based blogs at TwinCitiesBlogs. Point is, there’s probably a couple local resources in your market–you may just have to dig for them a bit.

3–Start scouring blogrolls. Once you’ve done your initial scan using the big three, start reviewing blogrolls of some of key influencers in your niche. Most likely, you’ll find a few blogs that slipped through the cracks. For example, there are a number of PR blogs I read on a regular basis (Amy Mengel’s blog and Rachel Kay’s blogs come to mind) that don’t show up on Postrank or Alltop. But, search a few key influencer blogrolls and they start to pop up quickly.

4–Review “About” pages and read 3 posts. Building a great blogger outreach list is about two things: Research and hard work. There’s really no way around it. If you want to identify the real influencers in your niche, it’s going to take some time. But, in my view, it’s time well spent. Because this up-front time of researching, reading “About” pages and really digging into the blogger’s posts will be invaluable when it comes to crafting your “pitches” and outreach to the blogger. Remember, the key is to start forming mutually beneficial relationships with these folks. You can’t do that if you don’t know what motivates them, their passions and the hot topic issues they’ve covered lately.

5–Ask colleagues who live in the niche. Personally, I’ve found this approach to be especially productive and effective. Looking for sports bloggers in the Boston area? Ask a PR colleague who lives out there who’s into the local sports scene. I bet he/she will know at least a couple sports bloggers–maybe even 1-2 you didn’t have on your list. Searching for a mommy blogger in Atlanta? Ask a girlfriend if she reads any particularly great blogs focused on the challenges of raising young kids. The hidden benefit of this approach is sometimes your friend or colleague might have a personal connection you can take advantage of, which effectively moves you right past the whole “getting to know you” phase of the relationship.

That’s a few tips and the ad-hoc process I use. I know others take different approaches. What works for you? What tips can you provide?

Note: Photo courtesy of KTVee and FlickR Creative Commons

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How to build a better blogger outreach list

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