Creating and cultivating relationships with other bloggers is vital for building an online reputation and successfully establishing your brand online. Other bloggers can be a real asset in helping you spread the word about your business, your brand and your products and services. Bloggers are also more likely to link to your blog or website than mainstream media sites and they will often link in the right way.

In this post we will share details about the tools you can use to find the most relevant blogs for your business.  There are many other bloggers out there that will be pleased to work with you – you just need to know who they are!

Use the right approach

Unfortunately most Public Relations specialists use the wrong approach when they try and engage bloggers. We receive several approaches every day for one or other of our blog posts and we believe that around 70% of those are originated by PR companies for their clients. Most PR companies seem to have limited skills in contacting bloggers, often using impersonal email messages, often based loosely around an uninspiring semi-related press release. We rarely pay any attention to these approaches and emails with an opening line of  ‘Dear blogger’ are swiftly deleted also!

What about the other 30%? These are a combination of viral marketing agencies (who tend to better understand blogging and how it works and they are also the most receptive when bloggers ask: “Do you have a budget to help us support your campaign?”), publishers (an increasingly stupid trend is emerging – they email constantly to tell us about their ‘exclusives’) and link-builders of various flavours.

Five quick tips on reaching out to other bloggers – from a blogger’s perspective

Some ways of gaining the attention and co-operation of other bloggers are better than others. Mutually beneficial relationships are best if you want long term co-operation. Money is often at the very top of any list of wants that will trigger a positive response and you shouldn’t dismiss considering ways of cutting the blogger a slice of the action. A brand that spends £25m a year on marketing should not be asking bloggers for favours all of the time.

All of these points work on the assumption that you have a good understanding of what the blogger is all about. You must do your research!

1. Avoid an automated approach. Blogging really is not a numbers game
This is the scenario: You have the email addresses for 500 bloggers but you can’t be bothered to write to them all individually.  Fair enough, but make sure that you are bothered enough to identify the top 10% most powerful bloggers and give each one the personal treatment. Think of it as if you were calling someone on the phone: each conversation needs to be tailored to their particular sphere of interests. It’s quality, not quantity that counts.

2. Do not attempt a home run immediately. You may proceed to first base.
If you haven’t worked with somebody before then you need to introduce yourself. If you are in an agency then explain who your clients are, and what you typically do for them. Help the blogger to understand your goals and how your clients will evaluate and measure success (views, links, referred traffic, mentions, new Twitter followers, sales, etc).

3. Don’t expect the blogger to help you out for nothing.
Do you work for free? It’s a question that stumps many PR companies. They cannot understand why a blogger might be reticent to promote details of a competition in a blog post in exchange for some free products or some kind of tickets giveaway. The simple truth is that the purpose of a competition is to raise awareness for a campaign, and campaigns have budgets, hence the reason why the PR company is making contact. That’s always the way, and the PR pushing the competition is not doing the blogger any favours by offering them a prize or ticket. Prizes do not help you pay the bills. Many bloggers would be delighted to receive a tiny sliver of the campaign budget. It’s insulting to expect bloggers to do favours for free or minimal reward.

4. So is there the possibility of a commercial relationship?
Putting it bluntly, you and your clients will be a much bigger dot on the bloggers radar if money exchanges hands. When you first make contact you should explain what you want to achieve, and what you can do for bloggers. Viral placements, display advertising, landing page re-skins, paid-for competitions and affiliate schemes can really put you on the map. You should be looking to support those bloggers that you deem can add value to your reputation and brand / campaigns.

Inviting bloggers to events for free drinks is one thing, but helping them to cover their server and time costs is a much better idea. Most PR companies don’t coordinate media buying or viral seeding for clients, but they should be able to make the appropriate introductions. This kind of thing really should be more cohesive and better managed.

5. Meet up offline – if appropriate.
A beer in the sunshine is always a good way to get to know someone better.

Tomorrow we will share with you the tools and techniques you can use to help you find the bloggers that can help you.  Please leave a comment below or visit WSIIMS – WSI Digital Marketing Services in Surrey, Sussex, Kent and throughout the South East of England.

Chris Griffin
Chris Griffin
Chris has been a Digital Marketing Consultant since 2005. Since 2007 he has specialised in Search Engine Marketing, both Paid Search and Organic SEO. He has an excellent record of helping businesses of all sizes, both in the UK and overseas, to achieve their online marketing goals.

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