Ten years ago when a manufacturer or retailer had something newsworthy to share, it hired a public relations agency that then got the information into the hands of a senior writer or editor. Successful PR agencies understood how to get honest, helpful product or service reviews without crossing the line into advertorial. It was almost always a one-way ticket to media attention, which we all know leads to more sales.
Bloggers are the new PR agencies, journalists and editors all rolled into one—and the relationship with brands is a whole lot trickier.
Bloggers live and die by their street cred
Word-of-mouth—both online and off—is about trust. It takes years for a blogger to build a trusted online reputation and one post to destroy it. Most people who read blogs understand the new social contract of product reviews online. They understand the product may be free to the blogger and that money may have changed hands for the review—but they expect 100% honesty. One false statement from a blogger about a product, and his or her integrity—and traffic—are gone.
The reach and impact of a blogger are different, too. While a journalist might be able to reach 300,000 readers—if each reader were to read every single story in the magazine—a blogger may reach only 1,000. But those 1,000 people are loyal, prequalified and react quickly to recommendations with their wallets.
Make no mistake, though. Social PR is just as time-consuming as traditional PR. And it’s just as risky if your products or service under-deliver on expectations. If you’re going to send a blogger a $1,000 stroller, the story behind what makes it better than the $300 one better be bulletproof.
Bloggers—the good, bad and ugly
Just as there are good journalists and lawyers, there are a few shady ones, too—same with bloggers. And it’s not always easy to spot the bad apples. These tips will help you find the best bloggers to work with:
O Ask for traffic numbers.
O Ask for their media kit.
O Read through their social channels for
O Ask for story ideas.
O Ask how they’ll promote the post.
O Ask for a follow-up report.