It's a terribly belated write-up (I've been moving house, I have an excuse) but I very much enjoyed the discussions at last week's Social Media Club session on how to get coverage on blogs - thanks to Niall Cook, Ronna Porter and Lloyd Davis for organising and facilitating it.
I no longer work in PR, but I do blog here and elsewhere, and I sometimes get sent press releases by misguided souls who probably don't realise that this blog only gets about 25 unique visitors on a good day, so I'm quite interested in this emerging discipline of 'blogger relations'.
It was especially interesting to learn that even people who work in online PR on a daily basis are still very much in trial and error mode when it comes to getting bloggers to write about their brands and products and companies.
However, it does seem that the bare bones of the discipline are starting to come together now, and it's nice to see the knowledge being shared across the industry thanks to the act of blogging itself. The other day, for example, Drew Benvie at Hotwire drew (no pun intended) my attention to a very useful post on the Pro Blogger blog that lists 21 tips for pitching to bloggers.
Then there's the useful feedback from bloggers on how they do and don't like to be pitched - if indeed they tolerate being pitched at all. Tom Coates's and Charles Arthur's outbursts on the subject are probably required reading now on every PR degree course in the country.
Anyway, as my own little contribution, I've made a list of five potential ways to secure coverage *without* pitching to bloggers directly, which came out of the discussion at last week's event:
1. Become a blogger yourself. You're much more likely to earn the trust, respect and attention of other bloggers if you have a decent blog too. You'll soon understand what works and what doesn't, and you'll meet some really interesting people into the bargain.
2. Get to know other bloggers. The more that bloggers know you personally, trust you and understand what you're doing, the more they'll be inclined to write about you. And if you think "they're not supposed to be writing about me; they're supposed to be writing about my company", you need to think again. In blogosphere, you *are* the company. PR people are used to being an invisible link between the brand and the media, but that doesn't work in the blogosphere, so get out there, comment on blogs, meet bloggers at events, have interesting discussions, write those discussions up on your own blog, build relationships.
3. Get some media coverage. This may seem counter-intuitive, and quite a few bloggers would probably shout me down for saying this, but a lot of what bloggers write is driven by what they see in the mainstream media. A quirky story in a popular online publication (it must be online, so that bloggers can link to it) can net you no end of secondary coverage and commentary on blogs.
4. Create the content yourself. If you write an interesting enough blog post, put an interesting enough photo on Flickr, or an interesting enough video on YouTube, people will find it, write about it and link to it. You don't have to spend millions on a viral campaign - just create something that the right people will find interesting.
5. Make the most of social networks. If you post your interesting blog post, video or photo to your Facebook account, it'll automatically be seen by all your friends, who might want to share it with their friends, who might want to share it, etc. etc. There are bound to be bloggers somewhere in your network, and this is a great way of bringing content to their attention without trying to 'persuade' anyone to write about anything. (If it doesn't get picked up, it probably wasn't interesting enough - have another go)
More reports from the Social Media Club session available at:
Richard's Blog - Last night's Social Media Club event
Renaissance Chambara - Event: SocialMediaClub London