Do blogs and bloggers still matter for PR agencies and professionals? While it seems that every news organization, business and activity “enthusiast” has a blog, blogging itself has quieted down in the past few years. Many blogs are extensions of mainstream media, rather than disrupting or supplanting it, and when it comes to working with bloggers for visibility, the “pay-for-play” approach demanded by some name-brand bloggers doesn’t always yield the returns that brands want.
But there are certain advantages to working with bloggers, who continue to hold influence over consumer behavior. Blogs still rank as the most important information source for buying decisions among consumers age 18 – 34, according to one study, and the number of blogs out there only continues to grow.
Here are five things to look for in a blogger relationship.
They’re cost-effective. Working with bloggers on product reviews or sponsored posts can cost as little as the price of product giveaways, or about $150 up, making it a highly cost-effective choice. Look at specialist bloggers in particular if you’re interested in targeting a niche demographic (people who live in a particular neighborhood, for example, or who adhere to a specific type of diet.) For hyperlocal or hyperspecific PR programs, bloggers are a gold mine.
They’re flexible and collaborative. Though many journalists or former journalists do go on to write blogs, bloggers as a whole are not journalists, and working with them can be more relaxed than collaborating with media professionals from traditional outlets. Look for bloggers who are authentic enthusiasts about their topics, as well as very open to product-specific mentions, without the constraints of editors who frown on “commercial” mentions.
They’re in it for the long-term. Enthusiast bloggers make great partners to keep in mind for multiple interactions. They can be outlets for offering a first look at new products or services, for example, akin to VIP customers or “frequent fliers” who are already positively oriented toward the brand.
They’re well designed. A good blog has a very specific look and feel, and some do a fabulous job of presenting a certain image to the world. Work with a blog that has the look and feel you want your product or service to be aligned with. The resulting post will benefit from the good taste and style of the blogger, who will shape the content in her own unique style. Use the final product not just as a media placement, but as an additional marketing asset to be leveraged by your sales team.
They represent a new direction. Working with bloggers — who have more of an independent, free-spirited flair than traditional media — is likely to put your product or services in front of a different audience than the ones you’re reaching through traditional means. If you’re looking to go beyond your existing base, a well researched blogger program can provide a new outlet.