Last month, Lisa Bialecki, senior director of Integrated Communications for Rust-Oleum, and I hosted a PRSA webinar, now available on-demand, called, “Going Beyond the Press Kit to Engage Influencers.” During the webinar, we highlighted the efforts Rust-Oleum has made to develop and deploy a sustainable blogger network as well as eight common ways brands can fail in the blogger space.
The discussion during the webinar was rich. It’s clear that today’s public relations professionals are already incorporating blogger relations into their marketing mix. But many are curious about how to identify the right bloggers, how to disclose your relationship and how to measure the success of your efforts. Here is a recap of some of the most frequently asked questions.
Tools of the Trade
Finding the right bloggers for your engagement is critical to success. Remember, don’t invite just anyone. You have the right to be picky, especially if the information or experience you are providing is valuable. Building a successful blogger list is part science, but also part art. Use tools like Cision and Marketing Cloud and Compete.com to develop an initial list for consideration. These tools will yield large blogger lists. However, not everyone on these lists will be relevant for you. It takes a layer of human research and intuition to build the perfect blogger list. Once you’ve narrowed the list to your top prospects based on the criteria you set (reach, engagement, content focus), follow the bloggers for at least two weeks to get to know them and their readers. This valuable information is what will set your brand apart from the many others demanding their attention.
More information on the tools
Cision – Cision’s media database contains the “who’s who” of today’s top influencers, which allows you to build lists containing your industry’s most relevant influencers who write about your topic.
Marketing Cloud (formerly called Radian6) – Now owned by Salesforce, Marketing Cloud pulls from more than 400 million sources, allowing you to listen to the social Web in real time and build robust lists.
Compete.com – Compete.com is a tool (you pay a fee for additional benefits) you can use to get initial site traffic for almost any blog. Just simply copy and paste the URL into the search function on the site and you will receive instant information on the blog’s unique monthly visitors, UVS rank and competitive ranking (which is also good information for list building). Tip: Use these metrics just for a baseline. Nobody knows the blogger’s site statistics better than the bloggers themselves. Once you’ve built a relationship with them, don’t be afraid to ask. You can also find similar information by looking at the “About” pages on the blogs.
Bloggers and FTC Guidelines
Bloggers must disclose, per the FTC guidelines. Most bloggers will automatically disclose in their own way. However, it’s our job as marketers to ensure each and every blogger you work with is properly disclosing. And remember, disclosures must be “clear and conspicuous,” meaning the disclosure statement must be as close as possible to relevant claims. Disclosure statements that have historically been buried in terms and conditions or on a disclosure page are simply not enough.
For more information on FTC guidelines and the latest additions to the policy, check out a summary blog post my colleague, Rachael Powell, wrote. In addition, download the PDF of WOMMA’s Social Media Disclosure Guide for additional disclosure information.
Pay to Play or Earn Your Coverage
Oh, the great blogger debate over whether or not to pay bloggers. Here’s our take: There’s a time and a place for both so don’t limit your thinking to one or the other. If you have compelling content or an experience that the bloggers can’t get anywhere else, that’s a sign you should take an earned approach. If you’re simply looking for a product review and you’re limited to a sample and a press release, you should consider a paid approach. Other considerations for paid include unique, one-off sponsorship opportunities (e.g., holiday gift guides, special editions) or leveraging the blogger as a thought leader or expert on your brand’s owned platforms (e.g., if you ask a blogger to contribute content or want to use their name and likeness in a mass media campaign).
Measure Your ROAS
Proving your blogger campaign paid off is important, especially when marketing spend is being dissected into dozens of different areas (we do love multi-channel marketing). Before you send one pitch email, make sure you set your success criteria. If it’s simply awareness, impressions are easy to measure. But if you’re interested in business goals like increasing sales, you’ll want to put tracking in place to capture those important metrics.
If your blogger outreach campaign is part of a larger media mix (TV, print, digital display), consider executing a marketing mix model to determine your ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). This will allow you to statistically attribute sales to each effort. For Rust-Oleum, this study proved that their blogger campaign was the most cost-effective sales driver and netted a 260 percent return on ad spend. These metrics are important to the leadership team and can help you secure additional funds to sustain your blogger network.
Thanks to everyone who joined the webinar live or downloaded the podcast version. We’d love to hear from you. What questions do you have, what challenges are you facing? Any other tips to add to the Eight Ways to Fail at Blogger Relations? If so, let’s start the discussion here.
Ashley Walters, APR, is director of Powerhouse Factories’ Word-Of-Mouth Marketing team.