Finding Bloggers to Target
How do you determine which blogs and bloggers to target with your PR efforts? You need to do your research and find out which blogs are read by your current customers or desired customers. Identify those blogs that are big in your industry, those that have the most followers and the most impact. These blogs are the ones that matter.
Once identified, you should treat these bloggers as you would members of the mainstream press. Treat them as friends, yes, but as friends with their own unique worldviews and their own very definite opinions. Don’t expect to tell a blogger what to write; you can suggest all you want, but in the end they’ll do what they want to do and nothing more than that.
Bloggers, in other words, are beyond your control. (In fact, most bloggers can’t be controlled at all.) They’re not corporate drones, and they don’t work for you. They’re important people with their own opinions, and should be treated as such.
Reaching Bloggers Where They Live
Despite their often opinionated nature, and the fact that they’re exclusively online, blogs are media, just like newspapers and magazines. To that end, targeting a blogger with your PR efforts is just like targeting any member of the traditional media. You send information their way and, if you’re persistent and a little bit lucky, they mention you or your products in their writings.
It sounds like an application of Public Relations 101, and it isto a point. Blogs are different from traditional media, and bloggers are different from traditional reviewers and reporters. You don’t reach bloggers the same way you reach newspaper or magazine writers, and they’re not looking for the same things, either. There are some subtle differences of which you need to be aware.
As with most PR efforts, reaching bloggers starts with you treating them as people, not just contacts on a list. Sending out blind emails or making cold calls isn’t going to work; you have to establish personal relationships with these folks. You need to find out what they like and don’t like, and then play to their interests. Get a judge of their temperament, what gets them excited, what they really hate, and so forth and so on. Get inside their minds.
Once you’re comfortable with how a specific blogger thinks, it’s time to introduce yourself. Not via a press release or unsolicited email, mind you, but by leaving comments on the blogger’s posts. That’s right, you make yourself known by posting a comment or two or three. This establishes you as a participant in that blog’s community, not as an outsider wanting PR favors.
Once you’ve made your presence known through your blog comments, you can then attempt a direct contact, typically via email. Introduce yourself, reference some of the aforementioned posts and comments, and let the blogger know you’d be glad to provide him with any information he might find useful.
Then, when you have some news you want to publicize, call in your favors. Email the blogger and let him know what’s cooking. Plug your product or service or whatever it is you’re plugging, and suggest that the blogger might want to mention it in an upcoming post. Point out how the blog’s readers might be interested in or benefit from this information. Make it sound like readers deserve to hear about this news. And offer to provide more information or resources if the blogger needs them.
Knowing how bloggers tend to work will help you in this task. Unlike traditional journalists who have a traditional 9-to-5 workday, bloggers don’t necessarily keep normal business hours. Many bloggers have day jobs and blog in their free time; it may be better to contact these bloggers in the evenings or on weekends.