Getting big names like Calvin Harris, Rita Ora, Zayn Malik or Brooklyn Beckham to endorse your product is a dream come true for most PRs. According to research from Takumi, bloggers are proving to be more influential than celebrities, so it’s no surprise that PRs want to capitalise on their growing popularity to promote their products and services. When it comes to outreach not all PRs get their pitch right in terms of approaching and building relationships with bloggers.
What is blogger outreach?
Influencer outreach happens when PRs or marketers seeking exposure for a product or service, contact influencers who have a big following to promote their products. If the outreach is successful, the blogger or vlogger agrees to promote your product, brand or service influencers will then create content that range from campaigns, virtual events (e.g. Twitter chats), blog posts, or ambassador programmes that place the blogger as the face of the product.
Why is it important for businesses?
According to a 2013 Technorati Media & Digital Influence report, blogs were found to be the third-most influential digital resource (31 per cent) when making overall purchases, only behind retail sites (56 per cent) and brand sites (34 per cent). In fact, blogs were found to be the fifth-most trustworthy source overall for information on the internet.
Therefore it’s not surprising that several of the UK’s top bloggers now have readerships that rival major media outlets. Some bloggers have millions of devoted followers who trust their recommendations and reviews of everything ranging from new make-up products to smoothies. A survey of 500 PR and marketing professionals by the app Takumi, which connects social influencers to brands, found that 82 per cent were using influencers in one form or another. Of these respondents, 38 per cent said they were using social media influencers, and 21 per cent working with bloggers. According to the study YouTube was the platform most commonly used in influencer campaigns by PRs, but other platforms for campaigns such as blogs (28 per cent), SnapChat (14 per cent) and Vine (8 per cent).
Utilising the power of social media channels such as Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram many bloggers have direct and often intimate relationships with their followers which give their recommendations more credibility. For many PRs and marketers, partnering with bloggers can result in a significant return on investment.
What are the best practices?
Do your research: From the countless spotlight interviews we have done over the years many of the bloggers featured have told us stories of being contacted about working on campaigns without the PR or marketer actually taking time to familiarise themselves with their content.
A big part of your blogger outreach strategy should involve understanding what the blogger covers, what kind of things do they like, and what campaigns have previously worked on. Time and time again bloggers tell of experiences they have of being approached by PRs who completely mismatch the product they want to promote with the topics they cover on their blogs.
To help you match with the right influencer, there are various blogger database companies like Vuelio which allows you to search a database of 11,000 UK bloggers, access profiles featuring both online and offline contact details, contact preferences, topics of interest and biographical information. These databases can be a valuable resource to PRs who want to target the right bloggers and deliver a relevant message, which is likely to get noticed.
Systems like Vuelio also allow you to keep a full history of your communications with your bloggers such as emails, phone calls, and the best way to contact them. This will enable you to easily manage your relationships with bloggers.
Bloggers who have a substantial followings are often inundated with offers and can instantly tell whether you have taken the time to read their blog. Our survey revealed that 34 per cent of bloggers reported being pitched to seven or more times a week.
Despite the frequency of pitches received, 70 per cent of UK bloggers said that only one pitch a week or less resulted in content on their blog. Some bloggers have even told of stories of PRs sending them emails without writing their names on the emails.
If you want to catch the attention of an influencer make sure your outreach feels personal and specifically targeted to the blogger. If you are too busy to give your emails that personal touch there is always the option of outsourcing by contacting one of the many agencies that represent bloggers and can manage the campaign on your behalf.
According to Technorati, bloggers most prefer receiving a first look or review opportunity for new products, offering prizes, samples, and giveaways to their blog’s audience. So, perhaps you should think of sending one of these enticers to your chosen blogger before you click send.
Don’t expect bloggers to work for free
According to our recent survey, agreeing payment or compensation is ranked as the number one biggest challenge that bloggers face when working with PRs which is also highlighted in most of our spotlight interviews.
Over and over again, our bloggers tell us of PRs who approach them about working on campaigns for little or no money. Most bloggers are keen to work with PRs, but as our recent survey outlined, many still feel that their output does not have the credibility or status of journalists and traditional media.
The casual assumption that bloggers will work for free reinforces these feelings and devalues what bloggers bring to the table.
As blogger outreach is still a relatively new thing, there is no set guidelines as to how much you should pay a blogger for their time. But with sixty two per cent of bloggers strongly agreeing that they should be paid for brand coverage, perhaps it’s time to set aside a budget that compensates bloggers for their time.
A big part of building relationships is negotiating appropriate rates which doesn’t leave the blogger feeling like they’re being taken advantage of. Be professional about it, and don’t give PRs a bad name.
If you successfully manage to bring a blogger on board for a campaign, don’t just tell them what you want them to do with their influence, spend time talking about how you can work together.
Most bloggers are highly creative and will have many ideas of their own. When bloggers tell us of the most enjoyable campaigns they’ve worked on, it’s always the ones where they were given the creative freedom to shape and mould the content.
If you want a blogger to promote a product or service they will know their audience more than you in terms of instinctively knowing what they will respond to and what they won’t. So trust them to do what they know best.
Also, where do you envision your blogger promoting your campaigns, what social channels would you like to tap into? Research from our bloggers survey showed that Twitter and Facebook are the preferred way to promote content, while women are also active on more visual channels like Instagram and Pinterest which reflects the categories of blogs authored by women such as fashion, beauty, and lifestyle.
Considering whether the blogger has the level of influence on the channels you want to use should play a big role in your outreach strategy.
To help you understand which bloggers have influence and why they matter, our database offers sophisticated algorithms that score each contact for their ability to influence your market. We use data from social ranking services used by digital marketing pros, such as Moz, Kred and Klout.
What’s the end result of blogger outreach?
So, now you’ve got the pitch right, you’ve built relationships with the selected blogger, what will the results of that outreach look like?
Sky recently made headlines by becoming the biggest UK brand using Twitter-owned influencer network Niche, a start-up technology platform. But it was the use of influencers such as Emily Canham, Jake Boys, and Holly Horne that give the campaign that extra push. These social media influencers have been tweeting to their audiences about how amazing Sky Go is, the new online television service aimed at 16-24 year olds and receiving hundreds of retweets and likes.
And then there’s the Telegraph, which has always had a very highbrow reputation but is also working hard to stay up to date with modern trends. Wanting to connect with a more female demographic, the Telegraph recently invited mummy blogger Alice Talbot to be a columnist on the website.
The biggest selling point of her column is that it reflects the same things she talks about on her blog such as the challenges of being a single mother and finding the all-important work-life balance which gives her column a level of authenticity and also allows The Telegraph access to a demographic they wouldn’t normally engage with.
Then there are company’s like Hilton International who use bloggers like married couple Kach Medina Umandap and Jonathan Howe, authors of Two Monkey’s to promote their luxury San Diego hotels. As both Kach Medina and Jonathan are travelling bloggers it’s a natural fit to have them promoting the Hilton’s hotels.
The success of these campaigns once again highlights the importance of finding the right match between the blogger, the services that are being offered, and using the influence of the right bloggers who will most resonate with your target audience.
Now you know what blogger outreach is and what it isn’t you can build solid and long-lasting relationships that will be advantageous for both sides.
If you are looking to maximise your blogger outreach efforts, connect with the right influencers and build meaningful relationships, explore our Vuelio suite of products.