You Are Doing it Wrong: Why PR Pros Still Struggle with Blogger Outreach & 9 Ways to Improve

A curious but seemingly true observation: public relations professionals don’t seem to be very good at blogger relations.  You rarely hear about the folks who created valuable relationships for their clients, though you certainly hear plenty about the marketers who did not.

Keep in mind that I’m not talking about a “one hit wonder” placement, where you manage to get that superb client mention in exactly the right blog post.  Instead, I want to know what you did after that to start an ongoing dialogue with the blogger?

How did you extend a series or emails or tweets or blog comments into a meaningful professional friendship?

This shouldn’t be so difficult.  Classic media relations activities require using almost all of the same “muscles,” from doing the proper research and analysis, to providing useful and appropriate information to ensuring your content is forward-thinking.

But we’re not making that connection as a profession. Why? Maybe it still feels foreign to us…or maybe we think we can get it by using tools like Technorati or Alltop or BuzzStream or perhaps we just don’t think there are enough hours in the day.

It doesn’t really matter. It’s sloppy and it’s lazy. Your clients deserve better.

For starters, do our profession a favor and avoid these mistakes: form notes/emails, business jargon, attachments that haven’t been asked for and outreach that starts around a project.  Essentially, don’t make a bad first impression.

Here are 9 steps to making a good impression:

  • Read: The most important and easiest step to skip. Know what matters to and motivates thy target!
  • Segment: Identify a small circle of key influencers/VIPs that you can truly get to know, instead of a large population that you occasionally “blanket” with news.
  • Analyze: Put together a simple grid that summarizes your VIPs’ 1) content type/appetite, 2) frequency of posts, 3) the character and leaders of their blog community, 4) their own current marketing activities such as keynotes and 5) relevant professional partnerships, etc.
  • Connect: Overlay your research with what’s being said online on your priority topics.  Search hashtags and look at relevant keywords via a monitoring tool. You’ll begin to make relevant connections once you better understand the conversational trends around your topic.
  • Stalk: You’ve got to watch these folks closely, so you can truly understand what might make them interested in your client’s content.  Send their posts to your email (unless you are very good at checking your Google Reader) and create private Twitter lists or Google+ circles. Start seeing how they discuss their content with others. That could be your opening one day.
  • Give:  Once you truly know what interests them, start looking for ways to provide valuable resources that are not connected to your client.  In other words, start by being genuinely helpful and not self interested. For example, why not build an eBook of publicly available, relevant data for your VIP group? Or could you give them an exclusive vs. a print journalist?  N.B. Guest post offers are for later.
  • Engage:  Comment on their blog and interact with them socially.  Essentially, live where they live.
  • Understand: This is an extremely time-starved population.  Pitch notes should be 3-4 sentences instead of a page.
  • Absorb:  A blogger lives and dies by their community.  So how well do you know that group of people? Who are the leaders? What do they say in the comments section? Where and how do they share socially? By playing detective, you’ll better understand what motivates your blogger and you might even be able to build meaningful connections with his/her “tribe.”

Are there other tips or mistakes that you’d add to this list?  Do you think that PR folks are good at blogger outreach?

Connect with Elizabeth:

Phone: 212.840.0017

Email: Elizabeth@blissintegrated.com

Twitter: @elizabethsosnow

LinkedIn: Elizabeth Sosnow