Building Stronger Blogger Relations, Any way You Slice It
Last November, Papa Johns CEO John Schnatter allegedly made negative remarks about the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), warning that the healthcare legislation would cause his pizza chain giant to raise prices by 11 to 14 cents, close stores and cut jobs. CNN, The Washington Post and consumers nationwide took note and the company’s reputation was negatively impacted.
Recently, in an effort to clean up the PR mess, Papa Johns called on its PR firm Sitrick and Co. to contact the dozens of bloggers who "mischaracterized" what the CEO said, asking them to correct or remove their posts. Such an action shines light on one remarkable fact… bloggers are being taken seriously – very seriously – by the C-suite.
Why Are Bloggers Important?
A 2011 survey by BlogHer and Ketchum conducted by Nielson Company, found that 53 percent of female U.S. blog readers have purchased a product based on a blog recommendation. If you think only celebrity endorsements like Beyoncé for Pepsi increase demand for a product, think again. The BlogHer survey also found that 20 percent of women who use social media are motivated to consider products promoted by a blogger they read, while only 13 percent are motivated by celebrity endorsements. When your brand can establish a genuine relationship with bloggers who share their brand experiences with to their readers, those readers in turn may become your brand advocates.
For many of our agency’s food clients, bloggers have become their bread and butter. For her witty commentary, magnificent photos and mouth-watering recipes, one of our favorite food blogs is Iowa Girl Eats. Iowa-based blogger Kristin Porter serves up tasty dishes with a side of her opinion. In the photo below, see how our client Just BARE chicken (from Minnesota's GNP Company) was mentioned in Kristin's very own skinny creamy Italian chicken skillet recipe and product giveaway.
4 Tips for Brands to Build Genuine Blogger Relationships that Last
From our experience with working with bloggers across America, we recommend the following blogger relations strategies:
- Know the blog's audience. A seemingly obvious first step that is all too often overlooked: get to know the blog. You must get familiar with their content, style and tone. If you want to really hit home, dig deeper and try to understand the personality and preferences of the blogger you're trying to reach. If they have never reviewed a product, know that asking them to review yours is a quick way to get all future emails directed to spam. Check out this State of the Blogger World infographic from Blogging.org to learn more about bloggers.
- Make it personal. Once you get to know your blogger, give them what they are looking for. If your blogger is gluten-free, share a recipe that's also gluten-free. If a blogger frequently talks about his or her children, explain why your product or service is attractive for people with kids (if it even is, this is where reading the blog is important).
- Be transparent. Identify who you are and the brand or company you represent. Bloggers aren't new to receiving PR pitches. If you try to hide, they'll figure you out and you can forget about working together in the future.
- Get to the point, and quickly. Top bloggers get hundreds of emails a day, so going on and on about the history of your nonprofit might not make the cut. Now is not the time to beat around the bush. If you represent a nonprofit and have an upcoming fundraiser event to share, make "the ask" fast. Our approach is to send succinct, tailored emails; not press releases.
Last April at the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, I listened in on a panel, "How to Raise Awareness Through Blogger Outreach." The panelists offered up a few additional blogger relations rules – 1) avoid random contact, 2) don’t treat social media as peripheral, 3) never consider it a one-way relationship, 4) remember bloggers band together and 5) never assume you know the bloggers' metrics, always ask – they are happy to share. While it's likely these blogger rules are perceived differently among the 42,000,000 blogs in the blogosphere, without a doubt this is advice to consider when reaching out for a chance to be included in 1 of the 500,000 new blog posts published a day.
It's no longer a mystery that brands count on the power of bloggers to communicate and convey important brand messages. But, tread lightly; bloggers like traditional media will remember. Once a bridge is burned, good luck trying to salvage your brand's relationship with that blogger. One thing is sure, making a personal connection with a blogger is the most effective way to drive participation and help your brand take off.
Abra Williams is a former Maccabeast