In light of Martha Stewart’s recent comments about bloggers, where she dismissed them as “not trained editors and writers,” and lacking in expertise, it may be time to revisit blogger relations for PR professionals.
To be fair to Martha, she seemed to be targeting actress and self-appointed lifestyle guru Gwyneth Paltrow during the interview in question. But since Martha has enjoyed coverage by food and lifestyle bloggers for many years and addressed BlogHer 2012 with warm praise about their status and accomplishments, many saw it as hypocritical, or at least ungracious.
It’s true that many bloggers aren’t and don’t want to be journalists, because their special sauce might be a bold, openly biased opinion or a quirky personality that comes through in their content. But blogging, particularly in the “parenting” category, has come a long way, and some of these ladies – and men – are extraordinarily prolific and creative. If you doubt the professionalism or expertise of a given blogger, as someone said recently, just try turning out ten pieces of quality content every day.
We recently hosted an event geared to “mom bloggers,” defined in PR parlance as family and homemaking blogs that feature commentary and discussions especially about daily home life, family, and parenting.
Sleepy’s, one of our consumer PR clients, expanded its mattress retail empire to the Chicago area. We wanted to welcome influential bloggers to one of their new suburban locations. The concept was to leverage the back-to-school timeframe and offer up an evening of education about proper sleep techniques for kids in order to create a buzz about the company in this new market. Our strategy is simple. If Sleepy’s is merely about mattresses, it’s selling a commodity. But if the brand is linked to healthy sleep, it’s offering something far more precious.
We researched Chicago-specific bloggers and started forming relationships, and we learned that some find the “mommy” term slightly demeaning, preferring to be known as “lifestyle” bloggers.
More importantly, blogger relations rests on mutual respect and the offer of a valuable experience that can be easily translated into relevant content for their readers. Here are our rules.
Get to know these people! Read their posts, know where they live and how many kids they have. But be personable and informal, address them by name and don’t sugarcoat the ask. If you want them to write about pillows and you’re sending some samples their way, spell it out.
Connect the dots. Lifestyle bloggers are often looking for a way to write about your client, so make the product or service relevant. Sleepy’s knows healthy sleep is top-of-mind with moms, both for their kids and their own sakes. Reaching media with branded content on a variety of sleep topics is a winning strategy for the retailer.
Give a little to get a lot. For those who couldn’t make it on their own steam, we offered transportation. It’s a small gesture, but it increased our ROI.
Personalize the offer. Maybe they’re lifestyle bloggers, but these writers are mostly moms! Keep that in mind when planning events. Reach out to them to ask if a cocktail event at 7pm on a school night works. Kid-friendly surroundings, food, and transportation are a good start. Extras like entertainment for kids will win points and support a great ROI for you and the client.