Five No-gos in the Blogosphere

Lisa Tihanyi
Published on May 26, 2014
By Lisa Tihanyi

dearbloggerA staggering third (31 per cent) of the buying decisions of consumers are being influenced by bloggers, according to the Digital Influence Report of Technorati Media. Needless to say, bloggers have definitely settled as key influencers for brands and companies. The implications for PR are high: more and more bloggers are willing to enter into co-operation agreements with companies – for events like product launches, raffles or reviews. Although they are often mentioned in one breath with journalists, most bloggers are not journalists. Being familiar with both sides of the desk (as a PR consultant and a lifestyle blogger), I've received all sorts of absurd requests for my blog. Therefore, I have compiled a small guide that could be helpful when contacting bloggers: 1. "Dear blogger," ... sounds like a nice start. However, these messages will be moved to the trash without reading the email. The more page views a blog has, the more inquiries the blogger will receive. This is the reason why it is absolutely vital to make clear that you have already taken a look at the blog. This starts with a personal form of address. Even if you are unsure of how to address the blogger in the jungle of nicknames and screen aliases, just take a look at the imprint. You can almost always find the blogger’s real first and last names there. 2. "Dear blogger, our customer XYZ is launching a new solution soon that helps to tune high-speed skateboards. We would be very pleased if you could reference to our new product in your blog." Just when you think it can't get any worse than impersonal requests, you receive a mass mailing on a topic that isn't even close to what you actually write about. Just imagine you run a blog that is completely and only about vegan cuisine. Then you receive this request – skateboard tuning? Why? This is what many bloggers experience daily. Before sending out your request, take your time to deal with the contents of the blog for at least for a few minutes - and you will save yourself and the blogger a lot of time and good will. 3. "We would be delighted if you would introduce our product in a sponsored post and not mention that it was sponsored." In Germany and the US it is mandatory to highlight sponsored content accordingly. In addition, in the blogosphere it is courteous to the readers to mark paid-for content to ensure an appropriate level of transparency. It is still a difference in reporting whether one buys a product or gets it for free for testing. It is common practice to identify advertising content in blog entries with the help of 'c/o' (meaning 'courtesy of'). So expect that your request will be rejected, if you require marketing content not to be highlighted as such in the blog. 4. "We would be very happy if you could publish our press release." I repeat: bloggers are not journalists. From experience I can tell that I have not experienced any blogger so far who has published a full press release. Press releases are certainly helpful as background information in order to learn more about the product or service. However, a request for publishing will take you not far in the blogosphere. Furthermore, you can assume that bloggers always want to offer a certain added value to their readers. One reason why they are so successful as influencers is because they are subjective and you can therefore expect honest and unbound reports. Ready texts will at the most be published on specially designed test blogs. 5. "We have sent you [sic: without asking before] a product. Please write about it on your blog." It belongs to the basic respect in dealing with bloggers to ask first before sending a product. Keyword 'imprint obligation' – the address can be found there, of course. So many PR people get the idea to just send a PR package to the specified address. And anyway: on many blogs you can find an overview of the conditions for co-operation in the menu bar, often called 'media / pr / advertising'. Some bloggers write, for example, from the outset that it is important to them to be contacted before a product is being sent. Furthermore, you can see it as a rule of thumb to always contact bloggers via email before you pick up the phone or bring a PR package to the post office. Well, now that was a whole bunch of no-go's. Now the question remains: what is allowed? It is actually quite simple: Keep in mind that the majority of bloggers run their blog privately and always want to offer some kind of added value for their reader. So personalise your inquiries, deal with the blog's content beforehand, at least within the scape of the blog, and be ready to compromise. One blogger would like to blog about a product if he or she receives it for testing, another may want to do a raffle for the readership. Just go ahead, this is a win-win situation for both sides. It is increasingly important to build good relationships with bloggers and also keep them – also with regards to future collaborations and maybe even a long-term co-operation. You should never forget that the Internet community is a village, too, and that bloggers communicate with one another. They determine quite quickly that they were not the only ones who received an absurd or brazen request by an agency or a company. If you make one blogger angry, this often has a domino effect. And we do not want to risk that, right?

Tags: relations

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