My last post on PR/Blogger Relations prompted this response from a client: “I don’t understand the value of bloggers from a business perspective.” He went on to say that it seems inexperienced bloggers can be extremely disruptive to businesses when they are misinformed or inaccurate. Anyone can be a blogger, how do I know blogger outreach will be beneficial to my business?
Excellent questions. The short answer is you can never be 100% sure it will be beneficial and that’s no different than traditional media relations. But blogger outreach should be a considerable component in your PR efforts and here is why:
Let’s start with the value of bloggers to business:
Blogs are growing in popularity and power (influence). This is a fact. A 2008 State of the Blogosphere study conducted by Technorati, the #1 Blog search engine reports that blogs had between 77.1 and 94.1 million unique visitors in the US alone. I didn’t take the time to find a more updated number. We can assume quite safely that this number has grown dramatically since then.
Bloggers blog to share expertise. Through their knowledge and influence, they become thought leaders in their subject matter, and garner a loyal following. A loyal following subscribes to the posts (again, no different than a magazine or newspaper). My mom loves to cut news articles of interest and mail them to me. That allows her to share the article with an audience of ONE.
Now, subscribers share the posts with their individual audiences via social bookmarking sites such as delicious and stumble, and facebook and twitter. The audience has potential for exponential growth.
Let’s talk about travel blogs specifically. One of my favorite travel blogs is The Vacation Gals because they tell great stories and blog about a variety of wonderful destinations and adventures for families, girlfriend and romantic getaways. Kara Williams is the Coloradogal. Here is what she had to say in response to my question, what value do my clients receive in working with bloggers?
1. We usually write for more than one online outlet :: more links for your client, higher search engine ranking results. (i.e. travel bloggers often guest post on others’ blogs, even if they are not actively pitching other sites for paid assignments).
2. We’re de facto travel agents for our readers (and our friends/family). At The Vacation Gals, we often get, “Where should I go for my honeymoon in Florida” or “What’s the best theme park for preschoolers in California?” If your clients are top of mind (if we’ve visited) we often recommend.
3. We’re blogging as we go – instantaneous coverage (no six-month lead time for print magazines)
4. We share the same goal as you and your clients — we want eyeballs to our blog (more page views=more we can charge for advertising); you want eyeballs to the coverage of your hotel/resort/destination. (LG comment: I love this part – it goes back to our relationship of collaboration. it’s about helping each other, it’s not a one-way relationship)
Tom Johansmeyer echoes Kara’s Number 1 above via twitter. Clicks for the client. You have very measurable impact via clicks to your website, retweets, and the level of interaction. You can see his blogging genius at top travel blogs Gadling and Luxist (to name a few).
I’ll add a few things here: Blogs have very real and large readerships, the stories stay on the web forever driving traffic to your site and coming up in searches.
Vetting the bloggers. Now to part two of the question and making sure the blog and the blogger are the right fit for you as the business owner.
Reading recommendation: The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web. In this book by Tamar Weinberg, she tells a story that not only illustrates the influence of bloggers, but also the power they have if they are inaccurate or misinformed. In a nutshell, Engadget (an influential gadget blog) reported (falsely, it later turned out) in 2007 that Apple was delaying the launch of some new products. Engadget was the only news source to report this, and Apple’s stock plummeted, costing the company a reported $4 billion.
It can happen to the best of us, and certainly this is a real and valid concern. Here is where you rely on your ever competent and knowledgeable PR lady (shameless plug) to ensure you are entering a mutually beneficial relationship. (See PR/blogger Relations Manifesto).
Your goal in media outreach (whatever that media format may be) is to find influencers who have the power to drive their audience to take action and purchase your product.
Steps to do this include:
- Subject matter and fit with audience
- Level of audience interactivity on blog, twitter and facebook (if appropriate)
- Reputation, quoted in other news sources? guest blogging elsewhere? (means exposure to new audiences)
- Important: it’s not the job of the blogger to give you exposure. You are helping them with content for a story that is of interest to their readers. No one wants to feel like a pawn in your marketing scheme.
Some of you have asked me for links to other top and favorite travel blogs. Here are a few:
National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel Blog
Elliot – (Chris Elliot’s blog)
There are way too many great ones to list here, and I hate to leave out friends and colleagues, so please add your favorite to the comments section.
Any additional value points to add regarding bloggers?
As always, you’re right on point Lisa. I just got back from a bloggers trip, and one thing that did not go well is that the agency that put the trip together did not really study the niche of the bloggers, which was a big problem because some people (for example, family travel bloggers) ended up with nothing to write about. Though PR folks should make sure they’re targeting the right people, I also learned that it’s in part my responsibility to ask about what’s on the itinerary so that I know there is something to my readers.
I’ll shamelessly plug my travel blog, Kaleidoscopic Wandering (www.kaleidoscopicwandering.com), as one that covers a myriad of travel-related content.
Debbie Ferm says
Yay for Kara, who is a veteran print writer and blogger. She has been so helpful to me, and so many others.
PR pros and their clients would do well to remember that just because someone is new to blogging doesn’t mean they fell off the turnip truck yesterday. I know plenty of people who were brilliant in their respective field before ever hitting publish on a single blog post.
Also, realize, bloggers are vetting your company as closely as you are looking at them. I know I’m not going to sell out my readers for any company.
Debbie, great points. thanks!
Debbie Dubrow says
Thanks so much for the shout out! I’m honored to be on your list.
One of the things I love about blogging is that I can take as long to tell a story as the story needs. That means that I might write several posts about a destination, and use as many pictures as I’d like. Sometimes I come back to an experience months or even years later – telling a different part of the story. I still occasionally post pictures and tell a short story about a trip to Paris we took when my son was 6 months old (5 years ago!)
Hi Debbie, thanks for the comment and you’re welcome – I always enjoy your blog. Love your added point – bloggers definitely have the freedom to do so much more – no editorial (by a third party) or page space restrictions!!
By the way, I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet you at TBEX. We hope to see you in Northern Idaho some time!! : )
Trisha Miller says
Wonderful article and very appropriately timed – this is a topic I’m hearing discussed with much more frequency these days. While it seems that more PR people are getting that there can be great benefit to working with bloggers, it’s their clients who are only slowly seeing the light.
Does that mean that traditional travel writers or print publications will be left by the wayside? Not at all, it’s an expanding universe, and there is room for all. The smartest PR clients are the ones who understand that they’ll come out on top only by working with ALL available media, including bloggers.
Nancy D. Brown says
This is a helpful post that you have written to educate the PR client and to explain to bloggers that PR agency have “vetting” processes. We all benefit by working together.
Finally, the power of the internet is demonstrated simply in the fact that your post was written on 7/20/10. I found it today, 10/31/10. The topic of “the value of bloggers to your business” is obviously still relevant. However, a newspaper or magazine article on the topic would have been tossed in the recycle bin a long time ago.
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