As I reported back in August, “Traditional PR is Not Dead”, by any means, but the influence of bloggers is certainly gaining ground and should not be ignored as you develop your 2010 public relations strategy.
According to a blog post entitled, “Statistics Show Social Media is Bigger Than you Think” by Erik Qualman there are over 200,000,000 blogs and a reported 34% of bloggers post opinions about products and brands.
With over 1.5 million new blog posts every day and 77% of active Internet users reading blogs, coverage in the blogosphere can greatly increase your potential brand exposure and drive interest from target audiences.
Another upside is the fact that today’s journalists increasingly rely upon blogs and microblogs to find story ideas and conduct research. According to a new survey from Middleberg Communications and the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR), 66 percent of journalists use blogs and 48 percent use Twitter and other microblogging sites to assist them with reporting.
These findings shouldn’t surprise any of us considering the growing lists of journalists using Twitter and other social networks.
To engage this new audience of influencers, you will first need to find the bloggers that cover your space. Free tools like blog search engine Technorati or Google can help you build and research your list. As a starting point, I would recommend that you identify no more than 20 targets.
Next subscribe to the RSS feeds and get in the habit of reading the posts and comments daily. This will help you monitor target blogs for topics that merit commentary or present possible opportunities to engage — but don’t jump in just yet. Blogger relations require different tactics than traditional PR because most bloggers don’t get paid to cover a specific beat.
Technorati’s 2009 State for the Blogosphere report claims over 70% of bloggers are hobbyists and self-expression and sharing expertise are the primary motivations for these bloggers.
According to our social media maven, Susan Getgood, the success of your blogger relations program depends upon how well you translate PR and marketing messages into stories that will resonate with your target bloggers on some personal level. Unlike the news media, bloggers don’t necessarily require the story to be new. Relevant is often more important, although this space will have a tendency toward wanting the latest news.
First and foremost, make sure that you understand your target blogger’s motivation for blogging and personal interests before you attempt to post a comment or pitch a story. With all the noise in the blogosphere, you must provide real value in order to be worth a post or better yet a longer-term relationship.
Finally, make a commitment to be in this for the long haul because blogger relations are very personal and an ongoing program is more effective than a campaign approach.