As the digital and traditional worlds continue to collide, public relations professionals are finding themselves working with online influencers, such as bloggers, more and more often to help spread the word about their clients’ brands. As a PR professional by trade and someone who blogs in her spare time, working with bloggers as part of my day job is something I really enjoy. Here are some best practices for working with bloggers:
Some of the same rules apply
There are definitely differences when it comes to pitching bloggers versus traditional media, especially when it comes to the hours they keep. But there are some best practices that apply to pitching both reporters and bloggers. For example, always do your research. You don’t want to pitch a health beat reporter an education story, and you also wouldn’t want to invite a blogger who eats a vegetarian diet to dine at and review a new steak restaurant. Of course you would take a look at what other stories a reporter has covered to help give you an idea if they’d be interested in covering your story. This is similar to checking out past posts that bloggers have written to give you an idea if what you’re pitching would be a good fit.
Quality, not quantity
It’s not all about the page views, folks. Meaning, you have to look deeper than a blog’s unique visits per month to make a good decision about whether or not you want to pitch them. Some blogs, while PR friendly, become “dumping grounds” for an endless slew of product reviews. So take a step back and think about the types of blogs your client would want to be associated with. Then take a look at some of the other important blog characteristics to look for, including: what kind of engagement does the blog receive, does the blogger write thoughtful product reviews and what is the ratio of product reviews to other original content.
Think before pitching
A good thing to think about before you start pitching any blogger is to ask yourself if it even makes sense to include bloggers in your media relations strategy for that particular product, event, service, etc. What can make working with bloggers effective is being able to offer them something unique that they can document on their blog. And in the right situation, it can be very effective if you can offer an entire experience instead of or in addition to a free product for review and giveaway.
Be up on FTC guidelines
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) releases new guidance on Dot Com Disclosures every couple of years. This guidance includes requirements for disclosures needed to accompany content that helps readers and viewers determine whether a blogger or endorser has a material connection to the brand they’re producing content on behalf of. To make sure you’re checking all of your compliance boxes, it’s a good idea to stay familiar with what the guidelines say and any updates that have been made, whether you’re a PR pro or a blogger. The latest FTC guidelines can be found here.
The bottom line
Partnering with online influencers, such as bloggers, can add another powerful layer of storytelling and brand advocacy for your client. These best practices can help ensure that working with online influencers is a productive, enjoyable experience for all parties involved.