9 Things You Need to Know Before You Engage with Bloggers for Your Business

As the rise in technology hits the world, the ever changing Digital Media Marketing business evolves at an even faster pace. Marketeers, in the attempt to come up with newer and more innovative means to make their product stand out, are trying unconventional mediums to propagate their messages.

While your Facebook, Google and Mobile Apps flood with advertisements, the constant flow of information makes it harder to make truly rewarding purchase decisions. This gives rise to an alternate method of disseminating content: Organic Seeding.

Organic Seeding uses individuals who are considered Key Opinion Leaders to spread awareness about a certain product or brand. Since these Key Opinion Leaders are trusted within their niche social communities, having their endorsement for your initiative can make a considerable difference in creating Top of Mind Awareness, generating conversations and in some cases even influencing purchase decisions.

More and more brands are starting to realise the importance of Organic Seeding. While certain brands are succeeding in their attempts to stand out others are merely following the trend like blind sheep, without understanding the science or the ethics behind the business.

Whether you are a brand manager or an agency representing a client, here are a few things you need to keep in mind before you engage with bloggers for your business:

1. Bloggers are NOT journalists

My Inbox Flooded with Press Releases

On an average, I as a blogger receive at least 10-15 press releases per week. Not only is it annoying, it is also pointless. PR agencies really need to understand that bloggers are not journalists. They are not running a newspaper. They will only publish content if they think their audience will enjoy it or if it will make them happy. Most bloggers started writing because they liked it, not because they wanted to make money out of it.

I have personally faced a dilemma when in instances, I had to publish Press Releases that did not interest me on my blog for the sake of the relationship between me and the person sending it to me. But I seriously would like that it stopped.

On one instance, a beauty blogger I know and would like to keep anonymous was pestered to publish a post on her blog about an anti-bacterial soap bar which was completely out of her domain.

In my personal experience, I received mass emails from an event that I had not even been invited to. When I pointed out the mistake, instead of responding, the renounced PR agency kept sending me emails for another week regarding the same event.

2. Set Expectations

Key Opinion Leaders can help you achieve amazing results for your campaign but they are not magicians. When you reach out to them, explain your goals and objectives and set expectations beforehand.

Having said so, you are not their employer. Even if you are commissioning a KOL for content, you cannot order them around. They are the best at what they do so trust them. If you knew as much about blogging as they do, you wouldn’t need them in the first place.

An example would be of a campaign that I was handling. My brand manager wanted me to ask the bloggers to write about her product, send the content for approval to her and then publish it on their blog. I had to very kindly explain to her that you are not commissioning them for what they publish but only for the fact that they do publish on their platforms. She was a sane one so she understood 🙂

3. Focus on the experience, not the give aways

Yes, the give-aways matter. But a KOL will hardly care about whether you’ve given them a USB or an external charger if your blogger meet-up is uninteresting. Make sure you put a lot of thought and effort behind your event plan and know exactly what will interest your KOLs. After all, if you cannot create interest about the product, how do you expect them to do it for you?

4. Respect is the keyword

I know I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: Bloggers are not your employees. Treat them the way you would treat a client. Give them respect.

I was once sent an anti-aging cream to blog about. I didn’t understand how I fit into the Target Audience in the first place but the direct way I was asked about when I will publish the post made me uncomfortable. If that was a requirement, it should have been mentioned earlier before the cream was even sent to me.

In some cases, you will find bloggers who will not respect you and simply bully you because they can. My advice is to deal with them firmly yet politely and don’t engage with them from the next time.

5. Know your bloggers

If you do not know the names, faces and interests of your bloggers, you should not be in the PR business at all. Don’t just use them, get to know them. I have been fortunate enough to have found a great group of supportive bloggers who not only deliver their best but getting to know them has made my job more fun to do.

6. Pay on time

If you want the post on time, you have to pay on time. I have faced this issue personally as a PR Representative. The long corporate hierarchy delayed my payments for an entire two months. Although I was helpless, I made sure that I actively communicated with my KOLs to reassure them that they will be getting their payments. Since that experience, I have started charging clients 50% advance to pay off my bloggers as soon as the project is closed.

7. Measure your data

You had a fabulous event. You got a great turnout. Everyone loved the product. Everyone loved the food. Everyone tweeted about it and posted about it.

That should not be the end of the campaign for you. Gather this data, analyse it and determine whether the effort was worth it in the end or not. Tying all lose ends will not only make you more satisfied with your job but also help your clients see the value of Organic Seeding.

8. Give credit

So your campaign won an award? Your boss gave you a bonus? You got a mention in the media because of the fantastic results you generated? Always name the people who helped you achieve these results. Send a thank you note to all your bloggers.

9. Be Honest

You are not their friend. Don’t pretend to be their friend. Don’t be fake. They will know immediately that you are trying to suck up. Instead, try to maintain a healthy relationship with the KOLs without compromising on your professional dignity.

Sorry if something in this post offended anyone but I have written this to help people out. 🙂

I would love to hear your thoughts on this whether you a blogger, marketeer or just an observer!

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18 thoughts on “9 Things You Need to Know Before You Engage with Bloggers for Your Business

  1. That Paki Boy says:

    This post is spot on. While thankfully, I haven’t received so many press releases, I also get tired of seeing one or two. The companies should know who the blogger is before sending out a mass press release.

    I wish people understood that with the rise of tech, the people (read bloggers) will get more power. And if the companies that are unprofessional don’t pay heed to this, they’ll definitely suffer in the long run.

    Nobody likes a fly buzzing around for nothing anyway.

    Thanks for the post; it was great!

    Like

  2. baahirezaman says:

    Not my area at all in terms of profession, so I shall refrain from commenting on the rights and wrongs… simply because I don’t know any better and knowing that I have just read a blog from one of the best in the profession being discussed.

    My only observation is from personal experiences of being at the other end of the spectrum (directly or indirectly employing bloggers on at various occasions/events). The whole concept of sub-letting is beyond me. Big companies/brands employ PR firms to manage various marketing spaces including ATL/BTL and now social which is upcoming and may be leaving behind ATL/BTL soon. These PR firms charge and arm and a leg to provide the visibility/meet the overall marketing objectives of their respective clients. It is not out of place to expect these PR firms to have their dedicated, well-trained, professional in-house teams responsible for providing services which are usually sub-let to free-lancers on contract/spot basis. In my personal opinion, it is highly unfair that a well-connected individuals (actually operating alone at time) may be fetching huge cheques from companies as their clients while the actual delivery is done by free-lancers (mostly energetic, talented youth) costing them less than half the money they are getting from the client. The question is, what exactly are PR firms charging for? To look good and meet executives, give huge quotations, come back and sub-let at half the amount and pocket 50%?

    In my humble opinion, young individuals like yourself need to come together and perhaps form a society and offer services directly to the clients. In situations like the one I described above, these PR firms are no less than a patwari.

    Hope what I said made sense.

    Ali

    Like

    • Gibran Ashraf says:

      Having worked in an ad agency (although eons ago) the key ‘service’ that such agencies (PR or advert) is the connection they can make between the client company and the many media nodes (traditional, b-2-b, and now social). The fee charged is to take away all the ‘headache’ that the company would have to face if it went ahead and did all that on its own. The idea is that a company may need only connect with one face at the agency to have much of their PR/advertising/marketing needs taken care of in exchange for a certain fee for services rendered and other expenses.

      This, however, is not a perfect world. This is why you would often see companies maintaining their own teams who would push out content for the PR/advert agencies to send to various media nodes – and even then hire multiple agencies to publish the same thing (have seen that happen too in this market).

      Your point about bloggers forming a collective too is bred out of the ‘perfect world scenario’! What is to stop particular group of bloggers from becoming yet another lobby. Since it is a collective of individuals, with no real binds to the collective, things can turn ugly, and fast. Would you want your product to be at the end of collective retribution?

      Then there is also the issue of whether such a collective would tend to absorb anyone outside of their known parameters and welcome someone who may represent/have access to market segments beyond their collective comfort zones and may be needed for your product.

      In that respect cartelisation of opinion should be guarded against – as we have seen it develop on the opinion pages of newspapers and on our television screens.

      Like

    • Ambar Ahmed says:

      Mr Ali,

      I work for a PR agency as a publicist. I invite you to spend one day with me at our office so that you can see what exactly we charge clients for, and whether the amount that we charge is really that unfair 🙂

      Best Regards,
      Ambar Ahmed (Pitch Media Inc.)

      Like

  3. mariam shahjahan says:

    Lady when next time you visit Pak please let me know and i shall take you out for the finest lunch/dinner whatever you want. You just spoke my heart out.

    I get tons of press releases everyday and that too about events happening in other cities, events or products that are in no way near the niche of my blog like say press releases about cars and stuff :/

    Also, a company sent me in some products and then after a week asked me to return them just because i didnt blogged about it. Although i already told that gentleman that its a skincare product and will take time. I returned those with a note similar to the contents of your post. Literally surprised at how these companies think we bloggers are dying for their free stuff and they can treat us any way they want. Completely unacceptable.

    Thanks for the post sharing it on all my platforms. Love, Mariam.

    Like

  4. aamnarah says:

    Love the piece but unfortunately not all points make sense in the bloggers market here in Pakistan. As a marketeer i believe when brands approach bloggers, the bloggers should be given their creative freedom to write however they want as long as they’re under the brand guidelines, however, unfortunately not all bloggers write as well as you do Sara.

    Sometimes there are people out there with a great following and good insight also, but horrible grammar and silly spellings. Weather they don’t care enough to fix it or just are that way, i don’t know but i’d like your opinion on this. What does a marketeer do when something is going on behalf of their brands which they’re responsible for and is written in not just poor but highly incorrect english without capturing the essence like it should and grammar problems are only the start of it. Does a marketeer not have a right to their ‘opinion’ in such cases?

    Like

    • saramuzzammil says:

      Thank you for the comment Aamnarah. I completely understand your point. In this case, I think the best way to go about it would be to check the blogger’s platforms before they are contacted or commissioned. If you don’t like the writing, don’t have them on board. So basically, what I’m saying is, do your homework before you engage with bloggers. Try to know them before approaching them. It will save you and the blogger a lot of hassle in the future.

      Like

  5. Nouman (@NoumanYounus) says:

    As a blogger, i have almost faced many annoying things from PR agencies.
    they want biased reviews by giving us bribe
    PR agencies don’t look for niche of blogger, they just want their content on blog
    really nice writeup
    ohh I wanted to mention here that Recently I faced point 2 🙂 and a reputable company did it 😀

    Like

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