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The New Influencers: Working with High-Profile Bloggers

The New Influencers: Working with High-Profile Bloggers

[By Karen Geier]

PR used to be a lot more centralized. There were very specific reporters for radio, TV, and print you could pitch and have a chance at getting your story picked up. These were the tastemakers. Now, bloggers in hyper-specific verticals and YouTube vloggers can be more influential than mainstream media. You need to pitch and work with these new influencers is an entirely different way.

Influence has changed — bloggers rule the day

While some columnists and TV shows do still wield a considerable amount of influence, the influence game has grown exponentially into different very specific interests online, each with their own tastemakers. These new influencers have different ways of connecting with them and they, in turn, connect more deeply with their audiences. Consider the fact that millions of people tune in to see new episodes of “Will it Blend?”

Bloggers are (generally) self-employed

Unless a blogger has an existing partnership or is co-producing content with a brand, they work for themselves. Unlike a beat reporter who is salaried and needs a constant flow of stories to meet their quotas, bloggers seek out stories on their own time. Working with bloggers will likely cost you money in the form of advertising on their site or in partnership fees. This can work to your advantage as a brand, because you can define your relationship clearly through negotiation.

Bloggers have their own editorial mandates

Just because a tech blog covers a wide variety of topics, it doesn’t mean it covers your type of product. It’s important to do research upfront to find bloggers who are a good fit for your specific product, not just your vertical market. Figure out how you fit into their blogs, not the other way around.

When pitching to bloggers, be prepared. Be specific. Tailor your pitch directly to them. Do not template any part of the pitch, because this could not only make your pitch less successful; they may not read your pitches in future.

Bloggers get bored easily

If you approach bloggers with a very controlled pitch, they likely will never even read it to the end. High profile bloggers get more readership than some journalists do, and as a result, are inundated with requests. You need to make your requests stand out by answering two questions:

  1. How is your product ACTUALLY DIFFERENT than others (and this needs to really sing)
  2. Why should I care about that?

If you aren’t answering those questions in a way they can’t look away from, you need to revisit how you’re pitching.

If your expectation of engaging a blogger in a partnership is that you will give them carefully constructed talking points, and they will rewrite them for you, do not attempt to even reach out. What you should do instead is offer bloggers access to something the general public doesn’t have. Give them a scoop. Give them product to beta test. Invite them to your offices or factory. Give them a reason to love you.

Get the bounds of your relationship in writing

Many blogger/brand relationships start as a result of an introduction from a mutual friend between the brand and blogger. This is no reason not to make the parameters of your partnership bound by rules and expectations. You should get these in writing and make sure everyone signs off on them. This protects everyone and lets you get to the job at hand.

Measure the effectiveness of your relationships

It’s important when entering into a relationship with bloggers to monitor the bounce and coverage you get. Make sure your site analytics are set to track traffic from blog links. Check your analytics for Twitter mentions, Facebook page likes, and follows or engagement on any other platform. It’s important to get a picture of the time and money you spend on these relationships versus the mentions, engagement, and eventual sales that you hope to receive from them.

Don’t be a fair-weather brand

It might be easier to not keep in regular contact with bloggers you trust, but you should keep in mind that bloggers are people you have relationships with. If you only contact them when you need them, and don’t offer them value without a return expectation, you might not grow your relationships with them, and might find yourself unfriended from them.

Bloggers can make brands cool and popular. Bloggers can help boost positive news, mitigate damage of bad news, and make customers anticipate your new products. You need to approach them with a view to cultivating and maintaining relationships and provide them with more than just a new release to regurgitate. Bloggers want to be able to give the inside scoop to their readers. Help your brand by helping bloggers highlight your company correctly.

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