Blogger Relations: A Grass Roots Approach 13

Last week, a friend from Switzerland reached out and asked me a few questions about blogger relations.  She was concerned with the time it takes to initiate and nurture relations with bloggers before you “need” them to write about a client.  But, at the same time, she realized that unless you are specialized in a certain field, there is no way that you can converse with all these bloggers.  I’ve heard this concern before and it is on the minds of many professionals who only have so much time in a day. I, too, have been asked by clients and prospective clients, “Do you know bloggers in our field.” It’s interesting, because I can answer this question in one of two ways.  The first way is to say that because I am a blogger, I have become the people I want to reach.  So, it’s very easy to engage another blogger, based on knowing blogger relations and proper blogger etiquette.

A lot of the relationships you build, let’s say on Twitter, for example, will come from following bloggers, joining in conversations with them, retweeting and sharing their information, adding meaningful or helpful information to their current conversations (could be a hashtag discussion), and learning more about them by researching their blogs including topics and the type of content they share with their community members.  Eventually, when a blogger sees you are contributing helpful information to benefit the community and you are chatting with them on a regular basis, the conversation can then move to a DM (which is more private) to emails once you have established a relationships with them.  And, yes these relationships do take time to grow and to build trust .  It’s about giving and helping, long before you receive.

However, there are times when you have to act quickly on behalf of client or a new project and when you might not have a personal contact or group of bloggers that cover a certain area or a specific region of the country. In this case, you DON’T just want to build a list and spam everyone on it. Rather, it’s best to take a grass roots approach to build new relationships. Let me give you an example of one approach that’s worked.  My agency needed to find food and mom bloggers in the five different cities across the U.S. (Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, DC) who would blog, tweet and post to Facebook about our client’s new product, which was a gifted dining experience specific to those regions.  Our effort started with reaching out to personal contacts (whose networks, in some cases, were large and connected).  These friends, more so than not, were nice enough to provide the contact information to their blogger friends, because they believed their friends would be interested in what our client had to offer.  Our contacts also said, “Yes, you can use me as a reference.”

With a few names in each city, we received an excellent response from food and mom bloggers, who were thrilled to hear from us, based on the fact that their friends made the recommendation that we contact them.  The subject line of the email read: Review of [client’s product name goes here]: Referred to you by [blogger’s friend].  Then, after engaging each new blogger in the program, well over 50% of our mom and food bloggers, were so excited by the product, they recommended their blogger friends to us, and the same pattern continued.  What was once a few bloggers in each city has now turned into numerous new relationships with food and mom bloggers across the country.

So when a client or an executive asks you about your relationships with bloggers, you have to remember to tell them that blogger relations can be grass roots and that you’re able to start with a small core group that’s really interested in what you have to share, who will then take the time to not only share your information, content and/or products with their networks, but also, if they like something, recommend it to their own friends to be involved in your program.  

As a result, using this type of grass roots approach, you are able to build your blogger contacts in different industries quickly.   Of course, following up, thanking your bloggers, and keeping them posted on your client’s efforts, is required, just like you would do with your traditional media contacts.  With all good relationships, you need to continue to cultivate them for the long term.

How do you work with bloggers and what types of blogger relations approach do you take?