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Blogger Relations Including blogs in the PR

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Tags: blogger relationsblogsPRPublic Relations

Most companies consider Public Relations (PR) an important part of their communication. In the digital reality of media today, blogs cannot be ignored. What are the reasons to include blogger relations in the PR activities? What should companies keep in mind when cooperating with the digital opinion leaders?

Reasons for blogger relations

What reasons are there to consider blogger relations in the first place? The advantages are derived from the very nature of the blog medium:

  • Chance of independent opinions: Bloggers often work outside of an editorial background. Authors write their personal opinions in the way it seems appropriate for them. They are often opinion leaders in their social groups, which means companies can benefit from their influence. This also implies losing control: What a blogger writes is his or her decision. Companies with regulator contact with bloggers can therefore benefit from an important multiplier. Furthermore, if sincere feedback is taken seriously, this can lead to constant innovation and improvement of products and services.
  • Search engine optimization: Thanks to their focus on up-to-date content, blogs often rank well in search engines (besides the spam blogs of course). Company websites thus profit from incoming links from blogs. As long as these links are related to the content and provide values for users, search engines do consider them useful.
  • Reaching new audiences: Readers of blogs tend to be loyal. They trust the author, following his links and advice. Companies can use this trust to point readers to their products and services, ideally readers out of their target audience. Therefore, blogger relations are among the main pillars of a PR mix, especially in industries having difficulties reaching their audience via channels like classical advertising.

There are thus a couple of reasons for blogger relations, especially for net related products and services, where support via blogs cannot really be renounced. However, chances also exist for other industries.

Realizing PR potential with blogger relations

If you need more arguments to include blogger relations into your public relations effort, you should have a look at two studies. The online study 2013 by the German channels ARD and ZDF found an increase in the use of blogs from 7 to 16 %. As Klaus Eck rightfully notes, the numbers could even be larger, given that it is not sure what exactly counts as a blog.

In a study by the blog marketing company Rankseller, 91 % of respondents said they are open to collaborate with companies. Although some caution is reasonable (the press report by Rankseller does not tell how the respondents were selected), these numbers clearly show what blogger relations have great potential.

Tips for successful blogger relations

Here are a couple of tips which became important to me during the process of my blog writing:

  1. Be personal: Good blogger relations are based on perceiving bloggers as human beings, especially because there are a lot of bloggers without a professional background. Requests thus should be individual, and this includes taking the time to have a detailed look at the blog, asking whether it really fits the own communication. Only because I talked to a fashion designer once does not mean that I write a fashion blog. Successful requests thus start with listening.
  2. Give something back: Closely related to tip 1 is the idea of giving something back, especially in case of sponsored posts. Reciprocity is a necessary premise in the social web. Klaus Eck published a couple of ideas in his post in this series (only available in German), e.g. a guest post or an interview in the company blog. Personally, I also take a look at the communication of a company on the web before answering a request. Providing real value in a company blog, publishing photos and other contents under a Creative Commons license or communicating openly via Social Media are real advantages, making me feel positive regarding a collaboration.
  3. Ask in advance: This sounds trivial, but at the start of blogger relations, you should always ask whether a blogger wants to participate. Unfortunately, this is not to be taken for granted: Publishing content on the web, you sometimes end ob in a PR mailing list without any relation to your contents or prior posts, just because your contact details are public.

Background of this post

I thank Mike Schnoor for the inspiration to this post, who started a call to participate in his series on blogger relations. He wants to publish the results in an ebook. What I have read so far is really interesting. There are a lot of inspiring tips and opinions regarding blogger relations.

Appendix (28 July 2014): Tino Schade published some thoughts on addressing different kings of bloggers. He identifies link sellers, money makers, ego bloggers and subject matter enthusiasts, giving valuable advice to deal with them.