Friday, November 29, 2013

Where to Start With Blogger Outreach

Bloggers are awesome. Though I suppose I would say that…

They're a rich pool of passionate content creators with their own followers across a plethora of topics, from fly-fishing to post-natal stress. If you want it from the horse's mouth, and an impartial opinion based on experience, blogs are the place to go. 81% of Internet users trust bloggers, and 61% of the online population claim to have made a purchase decision based on a recommendation from something they’ve read that was posted by a blogger. That's serious fried gold.

Bloggers also drive those precious links, so beloved by SEO’s everywhere, and have an AuthorRank of their own to boost Google credibility. They have a social media audience, and their sites are peppered with distribution tools (or should be). Needless to say, bloggers are the influencers you want in your corner.

Modern PR agencies need to court bloggers for the future, and need to form relationships in the same way we do with journalists.

Here’s a few general guidelines to get you started:

Go to bloggers' conferences and say hi. Making a personal connection with the folks who publish in your niche is fantastic for future relationships - plus, it’s great to learn more about what the folks who are passionate about your niche really want and how they behave (in a cool supportive way, not a creepy stalker way). Try casting an eye over BloggerEdge for Blogger Events that might be on topic for you and in your area. There’s a lot of good stuff over at PRNewswire for Bloggers as well. There’s tonnes of conferences and meet-up’s around, from food bloggers to mummy bloggers and from automotive blogs to travel blogs. Do a bit of research, and pop along with a smile and a decent sized bag of high-quality freebies to an event that’s suitable for your industry.

top bloggers have a big damn audience

If you want to know who the top bloggers are in your field give Technorati a go. This is a big blog search engine and ‘authority index’ that lets you mooch around by keyword, to find article and topic info on the sort of blogs with the sort of following that’s going to help you spread the word.

There’s also ProfNet, which is packed with regularly updated story leads from jornos and bloggers (and there’s a free trial version available at time of writing). Google’s blog search tool is worth a punt and AllTop’s worth a good look (if a little tricky to search). I also like using Pinterest search to find relevant boards, clicking through to the blogs by topic, and then using 'Page Rank Status' in Chrome to quickly see if they have any SEO kahunas.

Go and have a read of some of these results pages, then (if you like what you see) make contact with the writers and owners via email or through Twitter and strike up a conversation. Hopefully, there’s space for future collaboration by the very virtue that you share a common interest and ongoing experience in the subject matter. Introduce yourself and form relationships - but don’t be a pushy gimp. Play nice. Make genuine relationships. No one likes a pushy gimp.

not well liked

Think about how relationships can be mutually beneficial. You have to put in to get back, that’s how life works. Why should a blogger give you valuable column inches in their ongoing labour of love?

Can you offer their readers a discount code? Do you have exclusive info you could release to them first, maybe in a high-quality branded Infographic? Are you going to pay them (though do bear in mind the recent ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) memo reiterating its policy on using blogs for advertising)? Have you got some cool freebies you could throw to them to use as prizes? Are you going to invite a group along to test drive your new prototype or for a look behind the scenes at your innovative new whatever's being made? If you’ve already build a good relationship, are you going to send them a bottle of festive vino and wish them joy of the season to keep them thinking about you? Can you post them a gift card with a view to getting an impartial review? If the blog you are looking at has already reviewed a competitor's products or services then this is a great place to start.

Yes, this is time consuming. Yes, you’ll get a lot of rejections or sometimes ignored. When you do build relationships a topical contact list will be beneficial for the future. Start collating now. List people by subject and make copious notes on contact methods etc.

These folks are assets. It’s important to treat them as such.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

I Can Haz Job: The Social/PR Fit

It's my belief that digital, as an industry, doesn't truly understand social media. I realise this is something of a sweeping statement, and that there's obvious tie-ins to SEO and the digital side of content marketing, but on the whole it's a practice more akin to branding, traditional marketing, brand journalism, and public relations.

Social is about people, and the tools they use to communicate. It's about strategy, and agile growth. It's about sharing, caring, and giving. Yes, it's about numbers too, but above all it's about listening and making sure the right people get to hear what you have to say in the most open and sympathetic way possible. It opened my eyes when I was working with PRNewswire's Fuel Team in Denver, on the Agility platform, as to how close a match both disciplines truly are.

Over the past few weeks I've been to a crop of interesting interview with brands in markets as diverse as international banking, food retail, SEO agencies, online gambling, high-street outdoor wear, and mobile communications. None of them felt like a good fit, and then my efforts in social channels paid off big time. I met up with my good friend Trevor Palmer for lunch, and he made me an offer I couldn't refuse.

how could I say no?

Now Trev and I have been friends for a long time, since my days at the Associated Press, and he's the Director of Tank PR in Nottingham. He's just as addicted to Skyrim as I am, and he's a gentlemen of values not often found in our industry. In short, a good solid chap. His company, Tank, has been established in Nottingham's Lace Market district since he went out on his own back in January 2010. Their clients include such well-known faces as Hilay Devey (of Pallex and Dragons Den fame), Red Bull Events, the NSPCC, Holiday Inn, the list goes on.

With all the things that have been going on of late at Chez Hewitt - my dad being ill etc. - I've come to realise a few things. Quality of life is really key to where I am in my life. I want to work in an environment sympathetic to my skills, without 2 hours of travel each way, and where I have time and space to develop my craft. I want to work somewhere that it's easy to sell in my skills - because it makes sense for the clients - and where there's good content begging for distribution. Somewhere campaign focused, where I can add real creative input and be of real value to the communities I'll be creating strategy for.

Plus, I want some cool clients and it's been ages since I've been up for any awards ;)

Trev and I have been talking about working together again for over 10 years. When he offered me a place in the agency, I didn't have to think twice. If you'd like to know any more please give us a follow on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I've gotta say, this couldn't have worked out better. His team are a really friendly and savvy bunch - MartinLouiseMax, Marie-Anne, Helen, Glen, etc. - and I know I'll learn a lot from them, and how PR really works, in the months to come. As an added bonus, someone makes a cuppa pretty much on the hour and there's a killer bacon butty shop just around the corner.

big damn 12' tank poster, next to my desk

I'll be speaking on behalf of Tank at the East Midlands High Growth Business Summit this month. It's a great line-up, and if you're in the Uk it'll be well worth coming along. Exciting times. I can't smile wide enough :)