Is the PR industry maximizing the potential of bloggers?
In the world of Public Relations all of the KPI’s, AVE’s and company mottos can distract from the aim of the game. What it truly comes down to is generating awareness of a service or product. Whilst traditional media coverage is still incredibly relevant and valuable, there is one area that is massively underutilised and potentially misunderstood– blogging!
Blogs are great for PRs. One of their main advantages is that they tend to focus on one singular issue, whether it’s gluten-free meals, menopause or men’s socks. This means that if your story fits in with the blog’s subject matter, then it is relevant to their readers. By securing coverage in blogs you’ll actually be promoting the brand more effectively with people who are genuinely interested.
Also, by focusing on a singular issue, bloggers will usually have a good understanding of the relevant research, products and experts in their field. If you can convince a blogger that your story is credible and relevant to their readers, you tap into an entire audience of people who trust the blogger’s perspective.
What is vitally important in getting bloggers interested is really getting to know their blog. For example, we work with a lot of parenting bloggers and recently did a story charting the life of an average 12-year-old boy. It was not simply enough to send the story out to all the parenting bloggers; we had to select the ones who actually had sons. It’s always good to explain why a story would interest them and with this particular story it helped to ask them to compare our findings to their experience as parents. Sometimes the content itself is not enough. You have to give the blogger a reason to engage.
So, the million dollar question is: What can PRs offer bloggers?
The truth is the principle rule of PR is that we do not pay for coverage. That’s advertising. However, some bloggers run their site as their main source of income and expect PRs to pay them for taking their stories. Unfortunately, that is just never going to happen. When a PR can land a good story on the MailOnline with nothing but the quality of the content, why would they pay a blogger £70? Especially when the blog has about 3% of the readership of the MailOnline. It may upset some bloggers to hear it but payment is just simply not on the table.
Content is what PRs can offer to bloggers. PRs have surveys, spokespeople, experts and a whole host of other resources at their fingertips that a typical blogger couldn’t afford or gain access to.
Personally, I am in a unique situation as I’m both a PR and a blogger. Now if I were approached and asked to write something for money I would turn it down. My voice is credible and taking payment ‘bribes’ to run a story would make it less credible. My opinion can’t be bought. Yet, if someone came to me with good content, research I didn’t have access to, graphics and other resources that I actually found interesting and felt my readers would find interesting, I would be more than willing to take it.
This is what PRs can offer to bloggers: content they couldn’t afford and stories their readers will respond to. PRs can also offer bloggers products to review. This saves the blogger time and money and gives them something to talk about. Providing a beauty blogger with free make-up samples does two things.1- it saves the blogger having to spend money on the samples and 2 – it makes for appropriate content that the readers will be interested in.
PRs also have the funds to put on events that bloggers can go to. Bloggers shouldn’t want to be seen as a keyboard warrior, preaching from the confines of their bedroom. They should be out there engaging with people on the topic of their choice and PRs can facilitate that. Events are great. Not only does it keep the old Instagram account looking busy but it is also a meeting of like-minded people working in the same field which is great for getting inspiration as well as keeping an eye on your competition.
Inspiration hub for bloggers
As part of SWNS, we have an online hub (PLUG!) where we upload our stories and resources. This is free for bloggers to go to get relevant content. Whether a blogger needs stats to support something they are writing about, a quote from an expert or if they are simply looking for something fresh to write about, we’ve found an online hub is a great way for bloggers and PRs to work together. We have the content and they have the following. We provide newsworthy content to bloggers for free and they find their readers responding.
My hope for the future is for bloggers and PRs to understand how to work with each other more effectively and make each other stronger.