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.

Hotel PR Today – Passport Travel Marketing & PR Podcast Episode 2

Hotel PR Today - Passport Travel Marketing & PR Podcast Episode 2

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This episode of the Passport Travel Marketing & PR podcast features an interview with Allison Sitch from Marriott about hotel PR: what it is like today and how it has changed.

Allison currently leads the public relations strategy for the hotels of the Americas. Focused on supporting continent business objectives, elevating the Marriott International portfolio of 30 hotel brands, driving destination messaging to drive interest to 35 countries and 4,700 hotels. Oversees consumer public relations that promotes retail promotions and strategies in addition to loyalty programs, digital, technology and marketing innovation, buzz marketing partnerships and original content that drives consumer opinion. Responsible for successful development and execution of strategic consumer public relations from Canada, down through North America, the Caribbean and South America.

Hosts: Leif Pettersen of Leif Pettersen PR and Chris Christensen of BloggerBridge.comand AmateurTraveler.com

Hotel PR Today - Passport Travel Marketing & PR Podcast Episode 2

Social Media Marketing – Passport Travel Marketing & PR Podcast Episode 1

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This first episode of the Passport Travel Marketing & PR podcast features an interview with Tim Anderson of Marginal Boundaries about social media marketing and creating a social media strategy in the travel space.

Tim works as a brand consultant, advertiser, publicist, photographer, videographer, freelance writer, social media manager, strategist, and marketer, in both English and Spanish through his brand Marginal Boundaries.

Tim has been traveling since 1999 and traveling full-time as a location independent digital nomad since 2008. He has lived in Bulgaria, Colombia, Mexico and the United States.

We talk about the difference between just getting an intern to handle your social media and actually creating an intentional and appropriate social media strategy. In the travel space, selling something like a 2 week long cycling tour is very different from selling a t-shirt. Travel does not tend to be an impulse buy and this has to inform your social media strategy.

15 Tips for Choosing Bloggers to Work With

Earlier this year I was working with the agency for Airberlin to help them pick bloggers for a specific FAM trip to Germany.

This is a service we offer now at BloggerBridge.com but, It seemed like others might be interested in what sort of things I look for when looking for bloggers.

Background

Airberlin was organizing a trip to Düsseldorf for carnival. It was the 3rd year in a row they had offered this trip.

Pre-Filtering

The first year that Airberlin offered this trip we had 204 bloggers that were interested within a week. While it is great to have interest, that creates a lot of work. So the first thing we did for this trip is set some minimum qualifications:

  1. Domain Authority – We looked for a domain authority of 35 or greater. Domain authority is something a website gets overtime by being linked to by others. It is a decent sign of a blog that will drive SEO traffic to your website.
  2. Page Views – For this trip which included free airfare we set a minimum number of page views of 10,000.

Filtering

Even with those qualifications we ended up with 45 bloggers and only a few spots on the trip. So now we start to compare bloggers.

We had created this opportunity in BloggerBridge.com as a “One Click Apply”. That means that everyone who expressed interest in the trip was added to a list of bloggers. We can sort that list in different ways so:

3) I Sorted the list by traffic (page views) first and start at the top of the list to look at the different bloggers.

4) I also saved myself some time by creating some templates. I created one that said (in a nice way) “Sorry we had a lot of interest but and you did not make the cut”. I can then click a button to start a message to someone quickly.

Edit your BloggerBridge.com message templates here: https://bloggerbridge.com/message_templates

5) The next question for the client was, what are your requirements for location? language? audience?

The #2 slot on the list had a lot of traffic, but his blog is in Spanish about a specific European city, the city where he lives… and it wasn’t Düsseldorf. I eliminated him, because the content wasn’t relevant to this project which was trying to promote Airberlin to the U.S. market.

The list also had bloggers from Canada, a couple from Great Britain, one from India and one from the Philippines whose audience were not big in the U.S. We eliminated those as well.

6) I wouldn’t just pick the top 5 for traffic. Some of the bloggers are travel bloggers and some are not. I knew one  blogger, for instance, on the 1st page and she is great. The client would love her. But I will bet her most popular posts are recipes.

So if I pick a Lifestyle blogger or a parenting blogger, for instance,
I would want to ask how many page views they usually get for travel content. That is a reasonable question to ask.

7) I can even use the BloggerBridge.com campaign tracking feature to get the specific page views for a post which they have created in the past which is similar to what they expect to post for this project.

Maybe I would pick one of the family bloggers, or maybe I would do a whole blog trip with just them, but it would depend on the content and what their audience likes.

8) When I was on the first Düseeldorf trip we went to a drag queen competition because we were with a number of gay travel bloggers. You want to match the bloggers and the itinerary. So think about the bloggers you want before creating the itinerary or pick the bloggers that match the itinerary.

9) The blogger  who had the most traffic blogs about meals normally. So I asked the client did they have some good meals planned? Her site is a bit slow, but some of her travel content had great depth. I know this because by now I am looking at content on the bloggers sites.

10) I looked at time on site  in the Google Analytics for each blogger. Anything more than a minute long is typical, much under a minute is a concern.

One blogger had a 50 secs time on site. That is not low enough that I would reject her, but I noted a different blogger with over 2 minutes  time on her site which meant that even though she has almost half as many page views total, she gets more attention in terms of time people spend reading her site.

One blogger had a time on site that was only 28 seconds. The longest post I found on her site was 128 words. Skip her.

11) Ask around

I knew personally 5 of the bloggers on the list and they are all great to be around. For other people on your short list you can ask for the name of a PR rep that they have gone on a fam trip with.

12) Think mix. It might be nice to have one person who is good with video, at least one photographer, maybe at least one person with a strong social media following, especially because this is a big colorful event.

13) I sort the list by Instagram followers and look at the top couple.

I expect to see something like 30 likes / 1000 followers and the more comments the better. Our top Instagrammer had good numbers and probably more importantly, I liked her photos.

14) I sorted the list by You Tube subscribers to see if there were any people good with video, the carnival parade would make for some interesting video.

The top blogger by video followers have been around for a while, although I don’t know them personally. Some of their videos got a lot of views, but some didn’t,  so I checked out the next few on the list as well.

15) I sorted by total followers to see if there are some surprises

One blogger had a great facebook following, so she was worth looking at, but her time on site is not great and I only found one travel story on her blog. Her travel category was mostly movie reviews. Skip her.

Conclusion

By this point we had a pretty good short list. What would you do different?

BloggerBridge.com Updated Pricing

BloggerBridge.com but it is a tool used by a number of companies in the travel space (Context Travel, VisitBritain, VisitBelgium, AirBerlin, etc), to help identify, attract and manage bloggers. They are using these bloggers to create content to attract visitors to their company.

I wanted to let you know some updates for BloggerBridge.com:

1) We launched some new pricing for BloggerBridge.com this week. See below.

  • BloggerBridge.com has the profiles for thousands of bloggers
  • We track the schedules for 1200+ bloggers and can alert you when they are heading your way
  • We know the Google Analytics for 100s of bloggers
  • You can use BloggerBridge.com to advertise opportunities to bloggers
  • You can use blogger lists, projects and campaign tracking to help manager your work with bloggers

2) We are developing advanced features for managing bloggers. If you have experience with or interest in coordinating the work of lots of bloggers I would love to talk to you more. I will be looking for beta partners in early 2017.

3) We have also added a “Done For You” level of service for the many companies that I talk to that are not really looking for a tool, they just want someone to do the work for them.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Chris Christensen

Why I Ignored Your Press Release – A Blogger Perspective

Why I Ignored Your Press Release - A Blogger Perspective

In addition to running BloggerBridge.com, I have an award winning travel blog and podcast called Amateur Traveler, this post is written from the viewport of the 11 years I have spent as a travel blogger.

This is not one of those posts that complains about the quality of PR pitches that I get. Don’t get me wrong, I have enough material for that post but I thought it might be more useful to look at some of the underlying assumptions for PR pitches and whether those assumptions are valid  for bloggers.

As I understand the PR world there is the reality and the theory of PR. While the reality behind a PR pitch is often “my client wants me to announce this”, the theory is that a press release provides value it the following ways:

1) Reporters have to write a certain number of stories and are short of ideas so a Pitch can provide story ideas

2) News outlets are always in search of the latest news, I mean hey it’s right there in the name. A PR pitch is a great way to bring news to a reporters attention.

3) Reporters, freelancers in particular, are always looking for a new story angle that will  catch the eye of an editor. A good pitch can have a good story angle.

How are Bloggers the Same?

When you pitch me you are basically pitching my audience. What would they find interesting. I don’t see that as any different from pitching mainstream media. And of course most of the really bad pitches I get forget this basic thing. If I write you back:

“I blog about travel”

…then you forgot.

I get a lot of pitches. That too is the same as newspaper editors or freelancers I know. You are trying to stand out in a crowd.

So how are bloggers any different?

Many Hats

There is no one way to characterize bloggers. They have a greater variety of motivations to write in the first place. One big difference is that a blogger is often the publisher, the editor and the reporter all in one. That means that when you pitch me you are pitching the publisher as well as the reporter. I can guarantee a story will be written but I am thinking, how will this make me money, not just is this an interesting story. With sponsored posts that answer is obvious, but with any other story I have to believe that this post will get me a lot of traffic that I can monetize in some fashion.

Also many bloggers, like me, are doing blogging on the side in addition to some other full time or part time job. So when you pitch me your pitch also has to be good enough, to be interesting enough to write instead of making money.

Because blogging is just one of the things that I do, I have a backlog of story ideas. I checked recently and found I had over 250 different story ideas. In addition to podcasts and videos, I try and put out one solid blog post a week. That means even if I stop traveling today or stop getting new ideas tomorrow, I have literally 5 years worth of ideas. I don’t need more story ideas. What I lack is time not ideas. And yes, those bad pitches just take away from my most precious resource.

Deadlines

You can safely predict that tonight’s local news show will be an hour long and could safely predict about how many pages will be in tomorrow’s newspaper or next month’s issue of your favorite magazine. They all come out on a deadline and on a slow news cycle may need some help filling up the space. Blogs have no such deadlines except those that may be self imposed by the blogger, and there is no white space or dead air that needs filling.

Shelf Life

The other thing that is different about my blog, and many blogs, is that what I am looking at is stories that have good shelf life. I want a story that is good tomorrow but is still valuable in 5 years. Much of my traffic comes from search engines so even if I am not promoting an older story, often then most popular post on my blog wasn’t written this year.

This is the good news about working with bloggers. Your newspaper article will be at the bottom of the birdcage tomorrow. Your TV spot forgotten by next Thursday. Even most online mainstream media sites delete stories after a year or so (madness).

But, this actually means that I am not looking for news. That is to say I am not looking for a story that is timely so much as I am looking for one that is timeless and useful. So ever one who pitches me a new hotel opening or a hotel deal is pitching me something that is generally of no use to me. Why would I spend my limited amount of time available for writing on a story that is obsolete next week or next month?

Conclusion

Before you pitch another blogger, look at what you are sending and see if it makes sense. If you aren’t sure, ask. See if you can learn what might be interesting. Sending really bad pitches will get your email treated like spam. Sending boring pitches will at best, get it ignored.

How about picking a hand full of bloggers this week who you would really like to work with and spending a few minutes asking them what kind of things they look for? What have you got to lose?

FIR #31: Bring Back The Tourists!

Chris Christensen, our CEo, was a guest on this week’s episode of the For Immediate Release podcast – FIR #31: Bring Back The Tourists! Topics included crisis management communications for destination. We look at some good and bad examples.

  • The panel included:
    BloggerBridge CEO Chris Christensen (who also hosts the Amateur Traveler podcast),
  • Voce Communications Senior VP Christopher Barger (who is about to open Christopher Barger Communications)
  • CustomScoop founder Chip Griffin
  • Shel Holtz – host of For Immediate Release

Topics included…

  • The implications for communicators of the growing trend of corporations embracing gay rights and issuing public statements opposing statewide legislation that restricts those rights
  • Egypt’s plan to win back tourists despite no recognition in the plan of terror risks, while Mexico has found a way to address the Zika virus
  • The widely reported story of an executive who deleted his entire startup with a single line of code, which turned out to be a publicity stunt
  • The decline in personal posts on Facebook and how it affects communicators who have invested heavily in Facebook as a channel
  • Dan York’s report on Facebook’s F8 developer conference
    The pivot to video by many news organizations and whether company communicators need to follow suit
  • Communication jobs opening up focused on writing the scripts chatbots use

Campaign Tracking in BloggerBridge (video)

One of the most requested features from companies using BloggerBridge has been the ability to track how many page views the various blog posts being written for them or about them by bloggers are getting. Companies want to see this data today but also want to track it a month from now, six months from now, etc.

Bloggers want this reporting to be simple and quick.

To meet both needs we have added campaign tracking to BloggerBridge which we think will make it easy for both companies and for bloggers. See how it works in this video:

Message Templates – Save Time When Contacting Bloggers

One of the companies using BloggerBridge.com had a number of people interested in a new opportunity which they posted last week. They found themselves sending some of the same information over and over again to different bloggers. Messages like:

“Hey, looks great we would love to have you join us and here are the details…”

or

“It appears that you didn’t see in the opportunity where I said that the requirements for this opportunity were…”

To save them some time and to save you in some time in the future we have added message templates to the system so that you can at least start that email with the part you keep adding over and over. You can define a message and a button name and we will add that button to:

  • Search results
  • User profiles
  • Message Viewing
  • User List management

So you can quickly send a message and move on. You can find a new tab under the Messages tab called “Templates” where you can create, delete or edit new templates. All enabled templates will show up as buttons in the places above.

This feature is only available to companies.

Here is a demo of the feature.

What do you think?

Where BloggerBridge Bloggers are Located Now or In the Future

I was curious. We have been tracking the locations of hundreds of the thousands of bloggers in BloggerBridge for a while now. Probably the number one way that most connections are currently made in BloggerBridge is by companies that are watching for bloggers coming to a specific city. But, I wondered, where are the bloggers and where are they going?

So I hit the BloggerBridge database and pulled out some data. I queried for the location of all the bloggers in the present or the future and got this map:

Map of bloggers locations or plans

Where BloggerBridge Bloggers are Located Now or in the Future
where in the USA are BloggerBridge Bloggers Now or in the Future

That’s a lot of locations! That’s a lot of bloggers!