As both a PR who is frequently involved in blogger outreach and as someone who is increasingly on the receiving end, I thought it would be a good idea to put together this list of five ingredients that will help add value to outreach and dramatically increase the chances of me writing about your client.
The reason for this post is that I often receive emails about an ‘awesome infographic’, ‘innovative Facebook app’ or ‘exciting launch’ which are all well and good, but too often there’s very little reason for me to open up the laptop and blog. Most of the time there’s nothing wrong per se with the outreach, but equally there is nothing right that compels me to respond in the way the PR would like.
However, a little more thought and care in the approach would pay dividends. PRs are untouchable at communicating news, but they need to become better at articulating benefit; all too often outreach is overly focused on client messaging. For blogger outreach to be effective there needs to be some middle-ground, to establish something that is mutually beneficial for both parties.
In its most brutal, blogger outreach can be thought of as a transaction e.g. an exchange of value between two or more parties. For instance, the blogger may have a niche audience the PR wants to reach, therefore reaching this audience has a certain value. Subsequently, the PR needs to offer something of enough perceived value to the blogger in order for them to write about the client and enable them to reach the niche audience.
I’ve mentioned value as it is a deliberately broad term, but its one PRs should be thinking more about. Monetary value is easy to understand, but PRs can offer value to bloggers in many different forms.
I’ve designed this list to help PRs make their proposition more valuable, so I will be more likely to write about their client; then everyone can benefit and achieve the desired outcome. Whilst, I would never claim to speak for anyone but myself, I’m sure many of these tips will ring true for other bloggers.
1. Content co-creation
I frequently receive outreach describing in great detail an initiative, milestone or other good news story and whilst, news is interesting, I blog as a hobby and want something more exciting than that. The opportunity to co-create content has much greater appeal than simply receiving a press release. By this I mean, instead of emailing about the appointment of a new Marketing Director, let me have a Q&A session with them or even better let my readers submit questions.
If you want me to write about a new product, launch or event etc, let me or my readers have some form of exclusive access. It surprises me the number emails I get from PRs who blindly hope I will write about their client with absolutely no exchange of value mentioned. A more effective approach would be to give readers something exclusive, such as a money off voucher for the product, beta access to the app or discounted tickets to the event. All of this is more valuable and engaging than receiving a news release.
3. Competition prizes
Competitions have always been an effective tool to get people reading and talking about your clients and raising awareness. From my own experience bloggers are normally receptive to hosting a competition and writing about your client if the prize is valuable enough. The exchange of value when hosting a competition is easy to understand as they often have monetary value. Quite simply, if you’re launching a new product, you will increase the chances of someone blogging about it if there is a prize to give away too.
4. Product trials
In my opinion, a press releases on its own is probably one of the least effective tools to get bloggers talking and writing about your client. Instead wherever possible try and get your client’s product into the hands of bloggers. This can be expensive and time-consuming, but will undoubtedly add serious value to your outreach proposition and they will feel more compelled to blog; resulting in a greater chance of the desired outcome.
5. Experiences and events
Finally, if you are serious about enticing bloggers to write about your client, offer them a fantastic, unique and exclusive blogger experience they will want to share with their readers as soon as possible. Over the years I’ve been involved in ‘money can’t buy’ experiences for bloggers including whiskey tasting hosted by a master distiller, the opportunity for bloggers to learn fuel efficiency tips from a cricket legend and arranged behind the scenes access at a major leisure brand.
Experiences and events are expensive to manage, but they have a high perceived value and will strengthen any outreach proposition. If you genuinely want to build long-term relationships with bloggers it’s an investment worth making.
I’d be interested to hear what ingredients are more likely to compel you to write about a pitch. Skilled PRs can fashion and add value to opportunities, but all too often I’m left thinking PRs need to think and work a little bit harder for their earned media.