PR Tip: How to engage with bloggers
How should PR people engage with bloggers? It isn't rocket science. It's simple common sense.
Leaving aside questions of citizen journalism, rules of engagement, codes of ethics and all that philosophical stuff .... which I will get back to in a later post....
If you are a company that would like to reach out to bloggers in the hopes that they might write about your product or service, what and how should you do it? Here's my little prescription.
1. Research: identify the relevant blogs and start reading them regularly. Get to know the blogger -- what does she like, what kind of blog does he write? If a blogger links out a lot, and has a wide variety of interests, it's more likely that he will be interested in your stuff. If her blog is just her ruminations about stuff, with few links and outside material, less likely.
2. After you've been reading the blogs for while, figure out which ones make sense to include in your announcements. It shouldn't be all the bloggers who write about the topic. It should ONLY be those bloggers who you think will be interested. From reading the blog, you also ought to have a decent idea of their readership. Blogs with lots of comments, good clue to an engaged readership :-)
Then, send the bloggers a brief note, identifying yourself, your company and products, and ASK PERMISSION to send them company news and announcements. Do not do this as a mass mailing -- if should be an individual email, and personalized to some degree. Remember -- you've been reading the blog, so you ought to be able to refer to something relevant that will let the blogger know this wasn't a mass email.
if you've done your research properly, you will hear back from them. Some will say "no" but if you've targeted right, odds are, most will say yes. The simple fact that you ASKED FIRST will go a long way.
Then it is up to you to make sure you only send relevant announcements to your blogger reporters and continue to read their blogs. Stay engaged, and treat them with the respect they deserve. After all, they are reporters who can help you reach others, and they are your customers.
Personally, I can't think of a more important audience. Get it right the first time. You may not get a second chance.
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