On the speaking circuit, when I discuss viral PR strategies using blogs, I’m often met with blank stares or pushback from PR pros, both agency people and client-side professionals. The problem? PR people insist on using the same techniques to approach bloggers as they use with mainstream media. And they aren’t seeing results. OK, pitching your product to a blogger might work, but most bloggers aren’t interested in writing about products. More importantly, there’s nothing in it for the blogger to write about you because blogging isn’t their job, it’s their passion.
What’s required is the new thinking of social media.
Bloggers are notoriously vain and egotistical (Hey! I’m one—I should know!). People write blogs because they are passionate about a subject and want to deliver their ideas to the world. We don’t get paid to blog. Bloggers are not mainstream media in disguise—we’re more like that smart and funny guy on the barstool next to you who tells great stories. They guy on the barstool wants recognition and so do bloggers.
The best approach to blogger relations requires understanding how to influence a blogger by thinking: What’s in it for the blogger? How can you help them achieve their goals?
In late May 2007, I launched my new book by specifically targeting marketing and PR bloggers. As you can imagine, being an online thought leadership and viral marketing strategist with a book called The New Rules of Marketing & PR, I couldn’t just launch with the same old book promotional tactics! I knew that, for this book launch, the cobbler’s children needed killer shoes! Pressure’s on!
So I stuck my neck out and tried a tactic that has never been used before: I named 163 marketing and PR bloggers in the acknowledgments of the book and supplied their blog URLs. These are blogs that I read and enjoy or bloggers that have helped me as I researched and wrote the book. That’s 8 pages of acknowledgments! Unheard of!
But that was just the start.
On May 10, I posted on my blog all the blog names and URL links—with a thank you—to each blogger on the acknowledgement list and offered each blogger on the list an advance copy of the book. The link URLs alerted the bloggers through Google alerts and other tools such as Technorati, so I didn’t even have to reach out to them; instead, they came directly to me!
Almost instantly, 30 people left messages of thanks on my blog. More than half of the bloggers responded in the first few days and requested books.
Then the viral PR aspect took off.
In less than a week, more than 60 bloggers wrote about the tactic on their blogs (with links to the book). Even more interesting is that many of those bloggers copied and pasted the entire list of blogs creating a big viral PR circle (with my book at the center). Every time a blogger was mentioned by one of the 163 people on my list, that blogger’s Technorati rankings increased (due to the additional inbound link), benefiting the blogger with increased authority.
But wait! You’re probably saying something like: “Sure this tactic might work for a book launch, but I’m in the ______ <fill in the blank> business. It won’t work for me!” That’s what I hear all the time during the Q&A after my speeches.
If that’s what’s going through your mind, I’m here to say that you’re wrong. If you get creative in thinking about the needs of bloggers for recognition and a little ego stroking, you just might think of non-traditional ways to influence them.
Here are a few ideas to bring bloggers into your (or your client’s) inner circle:
- Invite an influential blogger or two onto your board of advisors
- Provide smart bloggers with trial or pre-release versions of your product or service
- Ask a blogger to provide a quote for your next press release
- Organize a meeting for bloggers in your industry to meet with your CEO or other executives to discuss industry issues
- When a blogger is helpful to you, provide them with the recognition they crave
- Link to influential blogs in your space in your online media room
- Take a blogger to lunch
I’m sure you can think of other ideas. The key is to bring bloggers into your inner circle and make them want to write about you (or your clients).
The Web has changed the rules. If you’re still following traditional PR techniques, I’m sure you’re finding that they are ineffective with bloggers.
And there’s a bonus: Getting visible on blogs is an increasingly important way not only to reach the consumer, but also to reach mainstream media because reporters and editors read blogs for story ideas.