Blogger Relations: Remember what the “R” in PR is for

I was out at the Marketing to Moms Conference in Chicago last week hosting a panel entitled, “Brands, Blogs & Beyond.”  Joining me were some of the smartest people I’ve met from both the giving and receiving end of blogger relations: Carmelle Druchniak of Stonyfield Farm, Jeannine Harvey of PBS, and Liz Gumbinner, co-founder (with Kristen Chase) of Cool Mom Picks.

There’s a lot of interest in working with bloggers and that’s great.  But before jumping in, it’s important to take stock of which brands are doing it right and some do’s and don’ts learned in the blogosphere trenches.  First rule:  no blasting.  There are (apparently) lists of bloggers floating around for purchase, and anyone can easily pull a list of top bloggers in their space on a site like Alltop.  As Liz spoke about, blasting out a template “Hello Mommy Blogger X” pitch can seem like an easy way to catch up.  But it can also land you on bloggers’ PR black lists, which are growing by the day.

A successful blogger relations effort requires careful targeting and time.  Content and context is key and a “one pitch fits all” approach should be avoided like the PR plague.  Brands (and agencies) that are successful in this space focus on the “relations” side of PR, forming long-term relationships.

It’s important for marketers to take a blogger’s view of the brand universe.  What’s in it for the blogger?  Do you have special, exclusive content or early access you can offer them that will appeal to their readers?  Have you taken the time to get to know the blogger, their interests and what their readers are commenting on?  Many brands have an opportunity to be a real resource and have a meaningful dialogue (that’s two-way) with bloggers in their space.  Stay in touch.  A blogger shouldn’t hear from you just when you have a pitch to run by them.

Liz discussed the difference between a personal blog, like her Mom-101, and a professional blog that includes product reviews, like Cool Mom Picks.  “All mom blogs are not the same…read the blog to determine if they are looking for content or not,” she counseled.

Jeannine talked about launching the new Super Sisters blog on the PBS Parents site, “to take PBS Parents from static to interactive…adding a real parent voice.”   PBS Parents actually got three independent voices – the Super Sisters are three blogging sisters, all moms, with 8 children between them and one more on the way!

“Blogger outreach was a natural next step for Stonyfield,” Carmelle explained, because of Stonyfield’s history of talking directly to consumers.  She shared a YoBaby cause program that bloggers have supported, helping to raise nearly $20,000 for the Environmental Working Group.

Beyond blogs, Marketing to Moms featured some great research presentations by American Baby, Grandparents.com, The Nest’s Bump and others.  More on those soon!