Online PR – Working with bloggers

This is another section of the Online PR Course. So why work with bloggers at all? Well it can be difficult to get your message across in some media nowadays unless you can offer something that contains money or jobs and just a product launch might not cut it unless it has mass appeal. While a print publication might not be able to cater for a niche audience, take that niche online and it can be massive.

Connecting and working with bloggers who passionately write about subjects they’re interested in and who energise an audience can be very beneficial. Good quality feedback of your products, a potential large pool of customers and people focused on your subject area. A lot of people online now get their news and facts from non professional media sources. There are many ways you can work with bloggers but you need to respect and understand what they do.

Research Bloggers in Advance
Sites like and aggregate content from Irish Bloggers. These can be good places to start. You can also use the blogger ligger list from Mulley Communications (contact Damien to get access) which is a list of bloggers in Ireland who put their names down to get contacted from companies/agencies who want to offer them promotional material/trials etc. Look at longlisted/shortlisted bloggers that were nominated for the Irish Blog Awards and are broken down by categories such as Food, Music, Business, Arts and Culture etc.

Read them, don’t fake it:
Subscribe to a cross-section of these bloggers using Google Reader so you’re not in the dark as to what they regularly blog about. If you don’t use Google Reader or don’t know how to then bookmark them and put them all in a folder called Irish Bloggers or something like that. Leave comments on their blog if there is a post of theirs you genuinely like so they’ll see you’re paying attention to them.

Evaluating a blog:
Do they write well on the blog, are they engaging? Probably the best metric, if a bit fluffy is quality and engaging writing. There are more sterile mechanical metrics though:
Use Yahoo! Site Explorer to measure inbound links.
Use Google Reader to get a rough estimate of readership.
Evaluate the last 10 blog posts for style and number of comments left under each post.

When emailing bloggers:
Be aware that the bloggers are probably connected to each other via Instant Messaging or Twitter and may discuss your email that you sent.
With that in mind, line up all the emails to go around the same time so they’ll all get them at the same time. This can actually be of benefit as if they are discussed on Twitter there can be a burst of chatter about the emails instead of start/stop mails. It also doesn’t make it seem that you are playing favourites.

Don’t send a purely generic email. Counter to that, don’t try and dress up the email to make it seem you are sending a nice compliment to them “love your blog, latest blog post made me think, you’re my favourite blogger”. Create the generic section of the email that contains details of the offering/event/product and then do an individual intro with each email.

Just like journalists, some bloggers like exclusives, so do not send an email making it appear that you are giving them something exclusively when you are not. Go niche when you can. It’s pointless plugging a new band to those who blog about sports or blog about news and current affairs. Twenty Major won’t be interested in your press release about a new single from a singer songwriter.

Mailing Lists:
Do not add bloggers to mailing lists, point out when contacting them that you do have a press release mailing list if they want to be added but just because their email is on their blog does not mean you can add them to a mail database.

Exclusive content/tailored content:
Give something of value to the blogger. Value = can be new content for their blog such as survey results, a funny video that they get to blog about first, an interview (email Q&A) with your client etc.

Recycle content – Your press release to print media might have gotten coverage but maybe not all the point were covered or all questions of the survey were mentioned. Why not take what wasn’t covered and point it out to a blogger if you think it was of interest?

Consider when doing surveys to have bloggers tipped in advance and have them contribute questions to ask, then give them the answers as exclusive content

If you have the resources, run competitions with the bloggers for their readers. You are far better on giving them something to give away on their blog than giving them something to use for themselves. Why not give them cinema tickets and have them give some of them away on their blog to their readers? There are a lot of things you can do competitions-wise. Cookbook giveaways, cinema tickets etc. Try and run competitions that reward interactivity and creativity – instead of “leave a comment” type entries, have criteria where entrants they have to leave a comment and point to a youtube video or a photo online of something or link to their favourite clip from another movie Al Pacino was in.

Spread the love
There are plenty of bloggers out there. While one blog might have gotten you some great coverage, spread your wings and work with other blogs too, move around the blogging community. The bloggers you worked with previously should be happy to link to the blogger running the current competition

Embargoes are honoured
Bloggers will honour embargoes, if they don’t, they’ll know they won’t be trusted again.

To ensure fair game, strongly encourage bloggers to disclose in any review that they got a device from you, you gave them a review copy of a book etc. In terms of payola, hopefully bloggers in Ireland will not ask you for money to blog or tweet about them. If they charge to write what they and you class as an advertorial then that should be disclosed too. Not doing so will end up with being found out eventually and damaging your rep.

8 thoughts on “Online PR – Working with bloggers”

  1. Excellent post this. Lots to take in here, but one that every PR person should read. Get a sense even in these early stages of ‘blogger engagement’ (I know that sounds awful), that it’s almost become a ‘by numbers’ exercise and that bloggers/active Twitter users are being added to the media mix by agencies and treated in the same way as media, without properly understanding what they like or don’t like. It will all end in tears if we don’t behave ourselves!

  2. Hi Damien

    Some time back you introduced me to the wonders of Google Reader & a big thank you for that. It has totally changed how I gather & read information. I would totally recommend Google Reader as a priority for any business person as it really is a most effecient & effective digital tool.


    p.s be patient, as it does take time to use it well & be careful you don’t overuse

  3. Great post Damien, I’m new to the world of blogging in that i’ve read many but never really engaged, great advice..Also have an idea of my own for a blog which ur tips are definitely going to help with and have already set my Google page up with ur Google Reader tips too..

    One point regarding plugging bands to Sports blogs etc, i wouldn’t directly plug a band to blogs but think it still wise to contribute to such blogs if you have a personal interest and maybe readers of that blog may check you out cause it’s not only readers of music blogs for example that are into music..Then you open up a whole new potential market..What do you think ?

    Nice one !

  4. Excellent post! As a blogger I agree with all the points listed here. I am a PR friendly blogger but there are times when I wonder what the PR people thought before sending an email, it’s like they didn’t bother to do their homework on the blogs they are reaching out to. But as a good blogger that I am, I reply to all my emails and let the PR person know if I’m interested or not.

    Thanks again for this post.

    Arie Rich

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