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Blogger Outreach – Thinking Beyond the Press Release

For Immediate Release

I have only been blogging for a little over 11 years, and my background is not traditional journalism.

But, the theory goes, a traditional journalist is paid on salary at is always looking for new story ideas to fill the many column inches of writing that are required from them. The idea behind a press release them is that you’re trying to provide story ideas for someone in need of them.

I know that there have always been good press releases and bad press releases. A good press release alerts you to a story that would be of interest to your readers. A bad press release is usually more related to the story you wish your boss wishes people would be interested in. A really bad press release is poorly written, poorly targeted, and just plain boring.

When targeting bloggers with press releases, however, there are additional issues.

Different Economic Model

In traditional journalism, the stories are supported by advertising. It’s advertising that pays journalist salaries. It’s advertising that pays for the means of production and it’s advertising that pays for editors, marketing, and office space.

Few, if any, of the bloggers that I know make their living from advertising. Bloggers tend to make their living from other jobs, other work, affiliate revenue, consulting, or their own products. I find it more common that a professional blogger has a backlog of story ideas, photos and they haven’t used, but what they lack it’s time. That is particularly true of the blogger who is living is earned from some other job.

What a press release asks for from a blogger is their most critical resource, their time. What it delivers in value, needs to be measured against that.

Different Release Long Term Value

The press release was invented in a time when most stories were written in newspapers and magazines. Both had a certain number of column inches to fill on a regular basis. The hot story today is at the bottom of the birdcage the next day. This meant that timely news was the most important.

For many if not most bloggers, the most read post on their site this week was not written this week. It may have been written years ago but continues to get search engine traffic, referred traffic and possibly even social media traffic. This means that a blogger has a bigger incentive for creating deep and valuable content than they do for creating timely content.

On my blog I am specifically not looking for any stories that will be obsolete in a week a month or maybe even in a year. That means I don’t write about sales. I don’t write about what’s happening this weekend or even in the next few months. I am much more interested in the annual festival than the new festival.

Global Audience

If you are looking for a local audience, working with a blogger is not always the right choice. The internet gives us readers, listeners and viewers around the world. My own Amateur Traveler podcast is used to teach English at Oxford University and in the German and Canadian school systems. It is also used to test English comprehension by the Thailand Foreign Ministry.

For a blogger with a national or international audience the same story that you pitch to the local newspaper might not be as valuable. A good blogger is always asking the question about what does their audience need or want. In the travel space, I have to realize that when I talk about a destination, the majority of my audience would have to fly there. That becomes a filter then for me. Is this a destination worth the cost, trouble and time to fly to?

The issue is not just relevance to the reader but also uniqueness to both the reader and to the search engine. It used to be that if the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Antonio Express both picked up and ran the same story that no one cared. In fact the wire services were even created to promote that duplication. Understand that a professional blogger is looking for a story that they can make their own.

Some Recent Press Releases for my Travel blog

I received about 50-100 press releases last week. I learned:

  • California’s state bus is officially named: “Golden State.” Seriously?
  • News about 2 horse races and 2 people races, even though in 10 years I have not written about races of any kind
  • Who the new Dean of Hospitality and Tourism is at a top school is (travel, but why do I care?)
  • That one hotel I have never heard of join a hotel group that I have also never heard of
  • News about a high tech light bulb… twice… possibly interesting but I write about travel
  • The news that Fisher Unitech has been given authorization to sell stratasys 3D printers and services in the state of West Virginia… I just marked that one as spam
  • An infographic for Star Wars (I write about travel)
  • That one company (who I don’t know and who is not in the travel space) has a new sales leaders (that I don’t care about)
  • Two new suitcases from different companies… hey that’s travel related!

Honestly some PR people seem to assume that the more that they write me the more likely I will write about their stories but I think the opposite may be true. I unsubscribe or for the most egregious mark them as spam. Yes, you can buy a list of bloggers and email them twice a week, but that doesn’t make the story more interesting.

Conclusion

If you’ve ever sent a press release to a blogger and thought it unprofessional when they respond in anger or frustration, consider also that you may not understand their profession.

Before you sent that email, did you pause and consider “what value am I bringing?”.

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

Working with the Drive-By Blogger

In this video Chris Christensen from BloggerBridge.com talks about working with bloggers who you didn’t invite.

I’m Chris Christensen from BloggerBridge. We’re talking about engaging with bloggers and I want to talk about the drive-by blogger. This is the blogger who is coming to your destination, who is coming to your town, who is staying in your hotel but you didn’t even invite them and you’re not even paying for it. How can you even find out that they’re coming to take advantage of that opportunity?

One, the most obvious one is if you have a website, make sure there is an easy way for media to contact you. Make it potentially different from your standard contact form or at least make sure that your procedures will get you the information if you’re contacted by somebody who is a content creator.

Two, there is a feature in BloggerBridge where you can put in a location search and you can say if anyone is going to. So for instance if I have a hotel that needs reviews in Berlin, I can say anybody who’s going to Berlin who is like this, who is blogging about business or who’s blogging about travel or business traveler who has more than 10,000 Twitter followers or whatever. Let me know when they’re coming so that I can engage them.

The third thing is make sure you have out there in social media ways of monitoring the conversation to see who’s talking about you. Hootsuite or other tools like that or standard searches can give you an idea when somebody is talking about you and that’s also a good thing to do because if they’re coming to your destination you may want to take advantage of that. There may be a review that you’re looking for, there may be some feedback, you may look for consulting. Whatever it is, take advantage of the drive by blogger.

I’m Chris Christensen from BloggerBridge.

Working with Local Bloggers

In this video Chris Christensen from BloggerBridge.com talks about working with local content creators.


I’m Chris Christensen from BloggerBridge, and we’re talking how to work with bloggers. Today I want to talk about working with local bloggers.

It might be that there are content creators — bloggers, videographers, photographers — who are near you right now. They may not be well known bloggers, but it might be that you can engage them to create some content on an ongoing basis. Is there a street fair that you would love to have an article written about? Are there bloggers for instance, who also freelance journalists, who could potentially get something in the local paper? Is there some way you can engage them on an ongoing basis; a certain number of blog posts per month, perhaps.

So, local bloggers can be an interesting resource. I would suggest you start by just finding out who they are, inviting them over for coffee or pizza, and seeing what kind of relationship can develop. There will be some of them you may want to work with, and some you don’t. But find the local bloggers. See what their strengths are, and then see if you can brainstorm what kind of ways you can work together in the future.

I’m Chris Christensen from BloggerBridge.

Working with Bloggers – After the Press Trip

In this video Chris Christensen from BloggerBridge.com talks about what to do after a press trip. Getting the most out of the opportunity means good follow up with by both the DMO and the content creators.

I’m Chris Christensen from BloggerBridge and we’re talking today about working with bloggers. Specifically, what to do after the press trip is over. Remember, you had a plan before you went, how much content you were looking for, maybe even what sort of articles you wanted written or what kind of themes that were going on. Revisit that when they get home; make sure that they got all the content they needed. It may have been that that person that you wanted them to interview wasn’t available, so you’re not going to get that piece. Can you get something else instead?

So revisit that, revisit the schedules, make sure everybody is on the same page. And then think about what you’re going to do with that content. How could you promote that content that you’ve now paid for – paid for with whatever budget you have – and get the most out of it? How could you promote it with social media? How could use it on your blog and link to it so that we have long-term value? How can you promote it in newsletters? Can you reuse it in different ways? Can you take an audio piece and transcribe it? Can you take a written piece and present an audio podcast or turn it into a video and a slideshow? There are different ways to use content. The more use you can get from that content, the more value you and the content creator can get from that trip.

And then don’t forget to ask for feedback. What could you have done differently on this trip so that you can make things better for the next trip? What things went well? What things could use improvement? You’ve got someone here who has knowledge of you, probably loves the heck out of you at this point, this is a great time to ask them for feedback and see how you can do it even better next time. Are there people that they would recommend that you work with? Because you now have a relationship with them, don’t forget to stay in touch with the people who now think very highly of you and your destination. You may be able to ask them to re-tweet things or you may just keep them informed of things that are going on and they may just choose to do that on your own.

So don’t forget that you have a relationship with those people. Stay in touch. I’m Chris Christensen from BloggerBridge.

Working with Bloggers – During the Press Trip

In this video Chris Christensen from BloggerBridge.com talks about assembling a team of content creators for a press trip. How to set expectations and what the advantages are of a diverse set of content creators.

I’m Chris Christensen from BloggerBridge, and we’re talking about working with bloggers. And today, we’re going to talk about Press trips but specifically what to do on the Press trip.

Three different recommendations for you; I mentioned a Press trip that I did with Maui years back — this was in 2010. One of the things that they did very well on that Press trip is they tailored it to different people. This was a combined Press trip with both new media content creators as well as traditional media. And some of the content creators — for instance, one was a radio personality from Los Angeles, who had a beach. He had a beach nearby, so he said, “I’m going to Hawaii but I don’t care about a beach.” But he did a food show, and so what he said is, “I want to see where the food is grown. I want to see what’s going on in the food industry in Hawaii, on Maui in particular.”

On the other hand, I’m someone who loves a good beach, and I would get up on Wednesday morning. And my itinerary said, “Go explore the beach.” I had a rental car. I had no particular restrictions other than at 5:00 I needed to be at this place for a group dinner.” And so, I went to beaches. I went out and wrote about what it’s like to have street food near the beaches, and what it’s like to body surf. I even shot some underwater video there, as well as photography. I went and swam in lava tubes over by the Road to Hana, and documented that part of the experience; very different trips. The same goal, creating content that let people know that Hawaii, particularly Maui, was a great destination.

So, that’s one is; think about customizing it. Rule number two is, think about the schedule. Make sure there’s room in the schedule for content creators like bloggers. They may need some time to actually write. They may have a job when they get home. They may not be doing this full time, or they may be going on to their next Press trip if they are somebody who does this full time. So, don’t pack the schedule so full that they can’t actually get any content out while they’re there. Give them some down time.

And the third thing to think about is connectivity. The very first Press trip I did was to a resort in Mexico, and the first thing they did when we got there was, they handed us a wireless WiFi router. And so, as we were going out through this trip, we were Twittering, we were setting up Instagram everywhere we went, because we were constantly able to connect and produce content right there on the fly. So, that’s a third thing to think about when you’re working with bloggers.

Working with Bloggers – Before the Press Trip

In this video Chris Christensen from BloggerBridge.com talks about assembling a team of content creators for a press trip. How to set expectations and what the advantages are of a diverse set of content creators.

I’m Chris Christensen from BloggerBridge, and we’re talking about engaging content creators or bloggers. Today, we’re going to talk about the Press trip, and specifically what to do before the Press trip.

Again, as we’ve talked about in the past, the first thing you need to understand is what the goals are of your particular campaign, and that will help you determine what kind of person or what kind of team you may want to get. And I say “team” because I want to bring up the idea that sometimes it’s better to get multiple people with different skills.

I think one particular campaign that I did with Maui. Maui brought in as their first set of bloggers that they deal with who were their first set of content creators, they brought in one blogger, two videographers, a podcaster, and two local content creators; one a photographer, and another a blogger. They were looking for a variety of things. They were looking for content for their website in which case engaging local bloggers had some real advantages, because they could continue to have a long term relationship. They were also looking for people who had specific skills like videography, like podcasting. And they were also looking for people who had audience, as well as people who could just create content.

And I think of the one blogger who was on the trip who has no blog of her own. She was a blogger. She was a prolific writer. In the time period that I could write one blog post, she could write three. But she didn’t have her own blog. She was very shy, didn’t even want to be in the group pictures. But that didn’t matter, because they were planning on using her content on their website, and they could provide the audience.

So again, what are your goals? What kind of person or group of people should you have? And then the other thing that I think is useful to understand up front is, make sure that everybody is clear what you’re looking for; what you’re going to pay for; what you’re not going to pay for; what you’re providing; what you’re not providing. And then what you are looking for in terms of content.

I am looking for one podcast; I’m looking for three blog posts; I’m looking for 100 pictures; I’d like to use those pictures in this in such a way. The more that you can be clear about what you’re looking for up front, the fewer problems there will be.

I’m Chris Christensen from BloggerBridge.

Working with Bloggers – Defining Goals

Step one of working with content creators (bloggers, podcasters, photographers, videographers, etc) is to decide what you are trying to accomplish.

In this video Chris Christensen from BloggerBridge.com talks about different factors you should consider before looking for content creators to work with.

I’m Chris Christensen from BloggerBridge.com and today we’re talking about working with bloggers. One thing that you need to decide before you engage a content creator, a blogger, a videographer, a photographer, a podcaster, or whatever kind of content you’re looking to create is why? What are the goals of whatever you’re doing because not all content creators are created equal. You might think you just need to find the best content creator out there or that you need to find the one who has been doing it the longest, but that might not be the best match depending on which project you’re looking at. Let me give you two examples.

Let’s say that you want to get the word out about a particular destination, but let’s say there are two different strategies there. One is you have content that you’re going to be putting on your own blog and the other is you’re looking for content to go up on other people’s blogs. If you’re looking for content for your own blog, then it does not matter whether the person that you are engaging has their own audience. If you’re supplying the audience, you’re just looking for the quality of the content.

If you’re looking for it to go on somebody else’s blog, then the audience that your blogger has, the audience that your influencer or content producer has is going to be significant because the bigger the audience, the more visibility that they can bring to the project.

So not all bloggers are created equal. Bloggers who have a bigger audience probably have dealt with PR more and maybe more professional, but on the other hand they maybe a little more expensive to engage or they maybe a whole lot more busy, so just something to think about as you engage with bloggers.