All posts by Chris Christensen

I am the host of the Amateur Traveler. The Amateur Traveler is an online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations and what are the best places to travel to. It includes both a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog.

Has Your “Earned Media” Mindset Set You Up For Failure

Has Your -Earned Media- Mindset Set You

When I was a kid the world was a simpler place. There were 3 channels on the TV, people listened to drive time radio on their way to work, and drank their coffee while reading the  morning paper. The lines between public relations and marketing were simple too. PR got you “earned media”, stories in the press, and marketing bought ads on popular TV shows and magazines. The problem was not knowing what people were watching or listening to, but how much could would the ads cost.

The World Has Changed for Marketing

In case you didn’t notice, the world changed. In this two screen equipped, Tivo ad-skipping enabled, ad blocker installed, social media addicted world it is hard to get anyone’s attention. If you do get their attention they are much less likely to take your word for anything. They prefer the opinions of strangers on Tripadvisor, Yelp or Amazon reviews to anything you have to say.  Even when you find their favorite program on TV and they don’t manage to skip your ad, it is only because they were too busy on their phone to notice. What’s a marketer to do? I propose that your PR group may be your best friend, but… not the way you used to do things.

The World Has Changed for PR Too

In the good old days when the story came out a PR rep would add a clipping to their clipping book and their job was done. After all, what else could they do? It’s not like they could sell more issues of a magazine if it had a great story about their company, hotel, restaurant, product or destination. Right? And unless the article was an award like “Car of the Year” , “Best New Movie”, or “Top Beach Destination” it was unlikely that a story would influence what was happening in marketing.

But… what if you could do the modern equivalent of selling more copies of the magazine that has that great story? What if you could show stories that promote you from a “trusted voice” to your potential customers? Shouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you? You can. You should. Let’s talk about how.

Setup for Failure

Most companies I have dealt with are not setup with the assumption that their PR will be a success. Think about it. If you knew your PR would lead to great stories, what should you do in the modern world to prepare for that success? If your answer is we would keep track of the story in our clippings book, but your TV is not still showing only 3 channels, then you might want to rethink that.

Every time I create an episode of my award winning Amateur Traveler podcast about a specific destination I send an email to the tourism board that I just talked to 10,000+ people for over half an hour about why travelers should visit their destination. About half even acknowledge the email. Most don’t do anything with it. Why? Because they don’t have a plan for what to do with stories besides making a note they happened.

These are the same companies that will favorite a tweet about them, so you know they saw it, but won’t retweet it to their audience because they already had a plan for what they were tweeting today.

I actually had a destination respond to my email this week with their press trip guidelines:

  • Complimentary stays are provided at the discretion of the host hotels and are subject to availability.
  • _________ is not able to request complimentary accommodations or amenities with less than one month’s notice of proposed travel.
  • If complimentary accommodations are not available then the _________ can try to secure a media rate for the journalists. However, the _________ is not able to cover the cost of accommodations, so the cost will be passed onto/incurred by the journalists
  • _________ does not cover air travel to _________, or ground transportation within _________.
  • _________ may not be able to accommodate spouses, children and/or visitors accompanying journalists.
  • _________ policy prohibits the hosting of journalists if the primary purpose of the trip is leisure or holiday travel.
  • Meals accompanied by an _________ CVB staff member will be covered, but all visiting press should plan to pay for some portion of their meals during their visit. We will also need for you to please provide the following prior to press tour consideration:
  • Documentation of a minimum total viewership of 100,000 (the audience of one outlet, or several – only for journalists requesting comp accommodations)
  • Letter of assignment on outlet letterhead, with info on demographics, circulation, and intended scope of coverage. In addition, you can find comprehensive information online in our press kit in terms of recommendations as a great start for your coverage while you are here…

But… I hadn’t asked for a press trip and as a thank you note this left a bit to be desired. Honestly, it left me with a strong desire never to create any content about this destination again. What could they have done differently?

Plan For Success

Every company should have a plan for promoting stories, even when they didn’t write that story, and even when they didn’t even know that story was being written.

These days you can:

• Retweet! For the sake of all that is good and holy, take advantage of content that drops on your door step. Post it on Google+, twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and that new social media network that is coming next week. If someone told you you looked pretty today, wouldn’t you tell someone?

• Include stories about you in your email newsletters

• Set aside money to boost tweets or Facebook posts. Boosting a story that someone else wrote about you will look less like an ad and therefore will more easily get through your audience’s ad blindness. Even $25 will put that story in front of thousands or more readers. Load your email list into Facebook as an Custom Audience, ready to promote to and, better yet, create a Lookalike Audience in Facebook’s Ads Manager that will help you find people just like the ones on your mailing list.

• Create PR buzz about stories. Did the story find a new hook that might  get you even more press?

Whose job is it in your organization to take advantage of the great stories that PR will get you?

Conclusion

The old model where PR and marketing are not coordinated is an out-dated model. Some of the best “advertising” for your company is being written by your friends in traditional and online media. Take advantage of it!

Earned Media Mindset

Bloggers – Updating Your Schedule the Easy Way

TripIt

Last Summer my wife and I and planned a trip to Washington D.C. We bought our airline tickets and the next day I received an email from a BloggerBridge customer that wanted to know if I wanted to take a guided tour of the Air and Space Museum in exchange for a blog post. I am a huge (space) nerd so I did and we had a great time.

But… how did they know? I had not gone into BloggerBridge and added that trip to my schedule. Instead, my BloggerBridge account is connected to my account at TripIt.com. When I book a trip I just forward the confirmation emails to plans@tripit.com and TripIt keeps track of my trips. This can work even with a free TripIt.com account. Every day in the wee hours of the morning BloggerBridge connects to TripIt and sees if I have new trips scheduled. If it finds some it updates my schedule and then sees if any company is looking for bloggers coming to that city.

Could we make it any easier?

To tie your BloggerBridge account to TripIt click on the schedule tab on your blogger profile and click on “Authorize TripIt”.

Reaching Bloggers – Getting The Word Out With Opportunities

AirBerlin wanted to take 5 bloggers on a press trip to Düsseldorf. JayWay Travel has an apartment in Prague they can let bloggers stay in. Great. So now what?

Solution

Even when you have something great to offer you still have to get the word out. So you work with a PR firm or you try and collect an email list of bloggers… somehow. Or you ask around. Spending more than a thousand dollars to a PR firm is the way most companies solve this problem.

BloggerBridge – Opportunities

What AirBerlin did instead was open a BloggerBridge Lite account and advertise an opportunity. Bloggers could sign up with a one click apply button and AirBerlin received all the bloggers via a list that they could sort in most of the same ways as the search feature. Which bloggers had the most Instagram followers, page views, twitter followers. They had 210 bloggers apply within a week. All this without collecting spreadsheets of stats, emailing for Google Analytics, etc.

If you get too many bloggers you can add a user filter and the opportunity will only be visible for certain types of bloggers, bloggers with x many followers, bloggers who have at least y page views, etc.

BloggerBridge.com Opportunities

BloggerBridge.com

Problem: You Have Limited Travel Budget but You Don’t Know Who is Nearby

When we created BloggerBridge, we created it to make our lives easier and yours. We kept running into a series of problems and thought, there must be a better way.

Problem: You Have Limited Travel Budget but You Don’t Know Who is Nearby

The email invited me to visit their resort this weekend. That all sounds well and good but the resort was on the end of Long Island and I was in California. No, they weren’t offering to fly me to their destination. They didn’t have a budget for that. What they had were empty rooms.

Solution

You do what this hotel did. You email everyone you can and hope some of them will be in the area. This is not a great solution but I see companies doing it everyday. Hotels, restaurants, day tours and local tourism boards contacting people all over the country and hoping to reach the right people. It is a great way to get your email on a spam list.

You search the web or the internet for people blogging about your city. The problem is that if you do find people you are likely to send this email:

“I see you just went to ______, I wish I had known you were going to be in town because I would love to have you ______. Let me know the next time you are in town”.

BloggerBridge.com schedules

BloggerBridge Solutions

BloggerBridge Location Search

With BloggerBridge Lite or Premium you can create a location search and we will let you know when bloggers and other content creators are planning a trip to your city… or to the nearby city.

So instead of the “next time you are in town letter” you can have this:

  1. My wife and I decided to travel to Washington D.C., we booked a flight
  2. I emailed my flight confirmation to plans@tripit.com which created an itinerary in TripIt.
  3. Every night BloggerBridge contacts TripIt and updates the schedule for bloggers who have associated their TripIt profile with their BloggerBridge profile.
  4. When a blogger schedules a new trip (either manually or through TripIt as I had) BloggerBridge looks through the location searches. In my case it found City Wonders who had a location search for Washington D.C.
  5. City Wonders received an email with a link to my profile and a brief description of me.
  6. City Wonders contacted me and offered me a free tour of the Air and Space Museum in exchange for a blog post. I got a great tour. They got the word out about their product without having to pay my airfare from California to Washington D.C.

If you get too many emails from BloggerBridge you can add a user filter to only be notified for certain types of bloggers, bloggers with x many followers, bloggers who have at least y page views, etc.

Problem – You Need Good Content – How Bloggers / BloggerBridge.com Can Help

When we created BloggerBridge, we created it to make our lives easier and yours. We kept running into a series of problems and thought, there must be a better way.

Problem: You Need Good Content

He worked for a well-known travel company, he worked with their partners and he had a problem. Google had changed their algorithm to punish people who published bad content. Some of his partners had literally lost half of their traffic over night. Millions of dollars of revenue had gone away because someone had saved money by buying content on the cheap from overseas writers with bad english skills writing about destinations they had never seen. He wanted to find good content creators.

Content is increasingly important. People are skipping the ads on their TVs… if they watch TV at all. Newspapers and magazines are losing subscribers. People are spending more and more time on the internet from their desktops and their phones. And your content is competing with everyone’s content. It had better be good. You might want to get help.

Solution

If you want to connect with bloggers, it’s not that hard, you just need some time. Start by searching in google for particular keywords. Look for phrases like “top travel bloggers” or “top food bloggers”. Collect a set of blogs and task an intern with tracking down the contact info for all these bloggers, track down how many followers they have on particular social networks and contact them to find out their traffic and would they like to work with you. Of course if you need someone who is located in a specific city or will be in a particular place, that’s not as straight forward.

BloggerBridge.com screenshot

BloggerBridge – Search

BloggerBridge Premium offers search of our database of content creators. That search is more effective as you will only be searching blogs and specifically a database of bloggers who are looking to work with companies. Not all bloggers are. Bloggers can specify what type of work they do, which can save you a step. Also your search results will provide you with all the blog’s stats. Many of the bloggers have also made things simpler for you by adding samples of their work.

You can do searches like:

  • food bloggers who accept guest posts
  • adventure travel bloggers located in New York
  • business bloggers who will be in Chicago on May 3rd
  • parenting bloggers who have a lot of Pinterest followers (or twitter, Google+, Facebook, instagram, youtube, or a certain Klout score)
  • blogs with the word ‘ski’ in the description
  • food blogs in Spanish
  • bloggers with good SEO value (Moz Domain Authority), or who started blogging more than 5 years ago, or who have at least 10,000 page views a month

TBEX Europe 2015 Bloggers Report

One of the uses of BloggerBridge.com is to facilitate speed networking at conferences like the recent TBEX Europe 2015 in Lloret de Mar in Costa Brava in Spain. This report gives you some idea of the blogger attendees at the conference.

Not all of the attendees who are bloggers who are eligible for speed networking take part, but enough do to get an interesting picture of the attendees. All numbers below except the total count of bloggers and blogs come from the 254 bloggers who took the time to fill out their profile.

The other thing to be aware of is that the country report is what country the blogger has expressed as their home base. This gets tricky with travel bloggers as they move around a lot. So some “US” bloggers are based in Spain, Vietnam, etc. and some “UK” bloggers in France, the U.S., etc.

Bloggers 446
Bloggers with profiles 254
Bloggers with Schedules 147
Blogs 499
Gender – Male 61
Gender – Female 183

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 3.42.58 PM

Ages
20 1
21 0
22 1
23 3
24 4
25 5
26 9
27 6
28 9
29 17
30 5
31 9
32 16
33 11
34 6
35 7
36 5
37 7
38 3
39 2
40 8
41 6
42 0
43 2
44 2
45 3
46 0
47 5
48 1
49 1
50 5
51 1
52 4
53 5
54 2
55 1
56 2
57 2
58 1
59 0
60 4
61 4
62 1
63 0
64 1
65 0
66 0
67 1
68 0
69 0
70 1
Social
Twitter Followers 2768390
Facebook Likes 1402061
Google+ Followers 5513470
Instragram Followers 659440
Pinterest Followers 973995
Blogs with Tags 221
Tags
Travel 201
Travel > Adventure 119
Travel > Arts & Culture 109
Travel > Culinary 104
Travel > Photography 103
Travel > Luxury 86
Travel > Solo 81
Travel > Women’s Travel 79
Travel > Budget 76
Travel > Backpacking 62
Travel > Walking Tours 62
Travel > Couples 61
Travel > Hiking 59
Travel > Eco-Travel 57
Travel > Flashpacking 51
Travel > Spa Vacations 44
Travel > Family-Friendly 41
Travel > Cruising 40
Travel > Hostelling 39
Travel > Voluntourism 31
Food and Drink 27
Travel > Bicycling 21
Arts & Entertainment 19
Travel > Business Travel 19
Society & Culture 12
Food and Drink > Restaurants 10
Travel > Wedding Destinations 9
Travel > Consumer Issues 9
Food and Drink > Recipes 9
Food and Drink > Food Photography 8
Food and Drink > Wine 7
Food and Drink > Regional / Ethnic Cooking 6
Food and Drink > Food Product Reviews 6
Arts & Entertainment > Art 6
Food and Drink > Beer 6
Parenting 5
Travel > People with Disabilities 5
Arts & Entertainment > Photography 5
Fashion/Style 4
Technology 4
Business 4
Society & Culture > Pop Culture 4
Travel > LGBT 3
Society & Culture > Current Events 3
Education 3
Food and Drink > Special Diets 3
Business > Marketing 2
Food and Drink > Cocktails 2
Technology > Mobile Web Technology 1
Technology > Apps 1
Arts & Entertainment > Music/TV 1
Arts & Entertainment > Sports 1
Business > Entrepreneurship 1
Business > New Media/Social Media 1
Religion & Spirtuality 1
Politics 1
Countries
US 114
GB 58
ES 55
Unknown 44
DE 20
NL 20
CA 20
IT 18
FR 11
AU 9
IE 6
CH 6
TR 5
BE 5
CZ 5
NZ 4
BR 4
PT 3
AE 3
AT 3
ZA 3
GR 3
DK 2
HU 2
MA 2
MT 2
KE 1
CY 1
SK 1
BG 1
ID 1
RU 1
HR 1
FI 1
TT 1
NO 1
SI 1
LT 1
BZ 1
PL 1
EG 1
PR 1
MX 1
AZ 1
ER 1

Get Started Working with Bloggers

getting started working with bloggers

This is the year you are going to start working with bloggers and other influencers, at least that was your New Year’s resolution… of course that was last Year’s resolution also. The problem is where do you start? Let me propose a simple way to get started.

Before The Chase Begins

When I was a kid I had a dog that chased cars but I was never convinced he had thought this through. What was he going to do with a car of he ever caught one? Many destinations begin working with bloggers with no better plans that Fideaux had. So before you start answer these two questions?

1) What are you trying to accomplish?
2) What kind of value can you provide to bloggers?

Goals

There are many goals that blogger / influencer outreach can help you address:

1) Do you need content for your website or more links to it to try and get more search traffic?
2) Do you want more content about your destination elsewhere on the web for marketing?
3) Are you trying to build your presence on Social Media?
4) Are there specific audiences that you need help reaching?
5) Are there specific messages you are trying to get out?
6) Are there misperceptions about your destination that you want to correct?
7) Are there regions or countries where you want to target your message?

You don’t need to know the answer to all of those questions yet, but pick one that you want to make progress on to get started.

Quid Pro Quo

Bloggers have the same need to eat on a regular basis that you do so the question they will have about visiting your destination vs another one is what is in it for them. What do you have to offer? Your budget is limited and you want to get the most of of what you spend.

Here are some questions to ask:

1) Can I provide payment?
2) Can I provide accommodations?
3) Can I provide some other savings like a museum pass or a transit pass?
4) Is there value I can bring that won’t cost me money?
5) Are there partners I can work with?

The White House wanted to motivate travel bloggers at the recent Travel Blogger’s Summit to get out the story of the advantages of studying abroad. The problem is that they had no budget at all for this effort. So first they worked with other sponsors who also wanted to reach out to top travel bloggers like Hostelling International and Turkish Airways. Hostelling International offered to put up the bloggers for a night, Turkish Airlines sponsored a party. They offered a chance to meet with people like the White House Chief of Staff and a tour of the White House. For the 10 bloggers who promoted their message the most on social media they invited them back to the White House for a special one on one tour including a peak in the Oval Office. This cost them time, for sure, but no money.

So what can you do? You can promote the posts they write for sure, but that is just table stakes. Can you give a blogger a free walking tour? Can you connect them with a hotel sponsorship.

If you wanted to buy a sponsored post on a blog that can easily cost $100-500 depending on the audience of the blog, so consider what you can provide that will have that kind of value.

Then what?

When a destination starts to work with bloggers it may start with a media trip but that can be an expensive way to get started. BloggerBridge.com just started selling a Lite version of their product ($200 / year) that will let you:

1) Be notified when bloggers are coming to one specific city (either yours or that popular tourist destination nearby). If you know when bloggers will be in your area you can reach out to them and not have to spend your budget on plane tickets which can help your budget go further. Why keep sending those “If I had known you were in the area…” emails?

2) List an opportunity for bloggers. For example, if you decided above that you could provide a night’s lodging then you can advertise that in exchange for a blog post on your destination (for either your blog or theirs, depending on your goals) then you can put them up. Or maybe you just offer a museum pass publicly, but if you see someone who has a big following is interested you can sweeten the pot. The system also let’s you filter which bloggers will see your offer by traffic numbers, social media followers, blog topic, years of blogging etc. You can use this if you find you are getting too much interest.

Whether you have a great experience or a less stellar one, you can also review and rate bloggers so that other DMOs will know who are the best people to work with.

Influencer outreach, blogger outreach can be useful to help you meet your goals. It does not have to be complicated and the best way to learn it is to start today.

first published at Working with Bloggers and Influencers for Destinations

BloggerBridge.com Affiliate Program – Help Us Help You

Have you ever gotten an email from a PR company that wants your help in finding bloggers? Have you ever gotten a pitch from a company that doesn’t match what you do?

We are announcing a way to turn those into cash through a new affiliate program with BloggerBridge.com. If you send us a company that signs up for a paid account we will give you 25% of their first payment. If a company signs up for an annual Premium account that will be $250, if they sign up for a Lite account or a monthly Premium account that is still $50. Not only that but the more companies we sign up the more the system will grow and the more pitches that are appropriate for you we will be able to offer. 

 

Currently all you need is a BloggerBridge.com user account. When you click on your profile page you will get a URL like:

BloggerBridge.com/users/2201 or BloggerBridge.com/users/chris2x

The last part of that URl is your user id (2201 or chris2x in this example). Any link to BloggerBridge.com (except to the blog which is run on a different site) that includes  the parameter affiilate=userid will set an affiliate cookie on a user so we can keep track of who brings us customers.

So for example: BloggerBridge.com?affiliate=2201

or even a link to your profile:

BloggerBridge.com/users/2201??affiliate=2201

To get started you can (but don’t have to) use the following widget. Cut and paste the following widget and change 2201 to your userid. See an example of this at AmateurTraveler.com.

Who to Invite for a Press Trip… with help from BloggerBridge.com

Who to Invite for a Press Trip with help from  BloggerBridge.com

We have had two different companies use BloggerBridge recently to plan a press trip for bloggers and other influencers and I thought that explaining what they did and how they did it could be useful for other destinations or companies.

There are a number of things to think about when you are planning a press trip and we have discussed some of them before here on the blog:

But today let’s look at the critical question of who to invite. Anyone who has run a press or blogger trip can tell you stories if you are not already convinced that the right people can both make for a great trip and help you meet your goals for the trip. And every PR who has worked with traditional journalists or bloggers probably has at least one story about the person they will never invite again.

Finding the Right People – BloggerBridge Premium

One way to use BloggerBridge for your press trip is to use a Premium account and the search features to look for bloggers in the niches and locations you care about. Find people who blog in the right language, who might be in the area and who have the audience you want. One example of this we saw recently was the recent White House Travel Blogger Summit.

“When I was tasked with finding the top 100 bloggers for the White House Travel Blogger Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship, one of the first places I went was BloggerBridge. The system makes it easy to see bloggers’ reach and examples of their work, so it saved me a lot of hassle in identifying attendees with the right fit.”

Netanya Trimboli – Communications and PR Manager at Hostelling International USA

Let the Right People Find You – BloggerBridge Lite

A very different way to find the right people is to put out the word that you are doing a press trip and let bloggers apply. You can do that with a BloggerBridge Premium account but you can also do so with the new BloggerBridge Lite account which is what AirBerlin did for a press trip to carnival in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Madeleine from Air Berlin posted an opportunity that publicized this trip to the BloggerBridge community and received  220 “applications” in about a week. But these “applications” were delivered as a sortable list of users that she could use to quickly sort bloggers by their audience or their social following. She did not have to have spreadsheets of bloggers and their numbers and didn’t have to ask for printouts of their google analytics.

One change we had to make after this experience was change the button that blogger’s click from “Apply” to “One Click Apply” because the application was too simple so they didn’t know they had done it. We already know all the kind of information that an application normally asks if they had finished filling out their BloggerBridge profile.

“Blogger Bridge has been an amazing tool and has simplified the selection process for filling our press trips. We received an overwhelming response to our trip posting, so happy with the results”

Madeleine Vogelsang – Communications Manager at Air Berlin Americas

Your Next Press Trip

Based on this experience we recommend:

1) Be very clear what you are looking for. At first the opportunity did not say that the blogger needed to be able to fly from one of these specific Air Berlin cities. If you have information like that make it public to filter out candidates that are not applicable.

2) Require specific characteristics. If you know you need at least a certain number of page views on Google Analytics or a certain number of instagram followers or a specific niche you can add a User Filter on the opportunity so that the opportunity only shows up to people who meet those qualifications.

3) We have launched a new newsletter for the BloggerBridge community so be sure to let us know when you are offering something as cool as riding on a float in carnival and we can help you get more visibility from thousands of bloggers.

4) After the press trip, write reviews for all the bloggers who attended in BloggerBridge.com.

Working with Bloggers – Introductions

In this video Chris Christensen from BloggerBridge.com talks about how to get off on the right foot with content creators

I’m Chris Christensen from BloggerBridge and we’re talking about working with bloggers. Today I want to talk about introductions. As you’re looking to work with bloggers, think about the introductions, as they should be thinking about how they introduce themselves to you. I would like to propose that you remember that this is a real person and that you introduce yourself in a way that’s appropriate to a real person. What you’re looking for, what you can provide them, how can this be a mutually beneficial relationship, is better than: “Hey, I’m working for such and such. We have a budget, but we don’t want to give any of it to you. We’d just like to ask you of a favor or can we have something from you for free?”

We get a lot of pitches like that as a blogger or a content creator, especially as you get a bigger audience. They don’t go over that well. It’s a bit like knocking on somebody’s door and saying “Hi. I’ve never met you, but I’m wondering if you’ll help me move?” Now, that might work if they’re the new neighbor moving in and you can see some advantages in doing that, but if they’re moving out or if they’re just knocking on neighborhoods not even close to where they’re living, you could see that that might be an awkward situation. That’s what it’s like when you’re asking for stuff for free when don’t even have a relationship.

So the thing I’d think about is: can you establish a relationship? Can you find which bloggers are going to bloggers you’d want to work with in the future? Which podcasters, which videographers, which photographers, which bloggers, which content creators in general are focusing on the kind of topics that are specifically interesting to your audience? Where do you have people who have audiences that overlap? Are you a region that is popular with backpackers? Then you might want to approach people who have that audience. Are you a luxury travel destination? In which case, look for people who have a luxury travel audience. Adventure travel, business travel, family travel, who is it that you’re looking for?

You can even introduce yourself months ahead of when you’re actually trying to ask something just to start a relationship. If they’re local, invite them over for coffee. But think about introductions. A good introduction can be the start of a wonderful relationship. I’m Chris Christensen from BloggerBridge.