This post was originally published on the WebMarketCentral blog in July 2008.
Getting blog coverage for your product or service is now just as (if not more) important than getting written about in traditional media. Blogs are now mainstream, as almost 80% of Internet users report having read a blog within the last year. Blogs are also influential, trusted sources of information for buyers, particularly in the B2B space; the most recent ITtoolbox/PJA IT Social Media Index Wave II report updates earlier findings and concludes that “IT decision-maker and influencer audiences (now) spend more time consuming or participating in social media than they do consuming editorial media or vendor content.” Blog coverage helps increase awareness, build credibility for your brand, and helps with SEO.
Yet many PR people stumble badly when reaching out to bloggers, with blog outreach efforts a mix of good, bad and ugly. As previously noted here and elsewhere, making pitches both personal and relevant is the first step to getting a blogger to write about you. It’s also helpful to provide bloggers with useful assets such as images, video, audio and research findings (with original source links if it’s not your own material) that they can incorporate into posts.
But how do you get beyond the basics? What really motivates bloggers to write about whatever it is they write about?
It’s not about money—at least not primarily, for most bloggers. Therefore, outright bribery is a bad idea all the way around (that generally includes free products too, although there are a few exceptions to this rule, such as books).
Bribery is bad for you because you don’t want your company to become known as a firm that has to pay to get coverage. If your product is unique and interesting, it should be blogworthy in its own right.
It’s bad for bloggers. The vast majority of bloggers don’t want to ruin their credibility by accepting money to write positive reviews. And the minority who are willing to write pretty much anything they’re paid to write aren’t the ones you really want covering your product or service.
And it’s bad for readers. Blog readers want to be able to rely on bloggers for objectivity. Marketing brochures they can get from the vendor.
So what do bloggers want? While there are a wide variety of motivations for blogging, at some level with virtually every blogger it comes down to ego. Bloggers write to be respected and read. Respect is shown by practices such as personalizing communications and providing bloggers with access to key executives and internal experts.
Readership is an even bigger issue. Help bloggers increase their audience through writing about your product or service by linking to posts about your company:
- from your website (e.g. your online media room, “in the news” section or dedicated blog coverage page);
- in your company newsletter;
- in your own corporate blog (if applicable); and
- on any social networking sites where your company is active (e.g. Digg, Sphinn or Searchles).
In contrast to bribery, focusing on respect and readership creates a win-win situation. The blogger benefits from increased traffic; has a strong incentive to write a well-crafted piece (which is good for readers); and by helping increase traffic to that blog, you increase valuable third-party exposure for your own company.