By Georgina Elrington, CTLD

Research is vital in order to understand the opportunities — as well as the boundaries — when incorporating blogger outreach to a campaign. Research also helps avoid blushes, negative coverage and possible law suits as standards, such as disclaimers, become obligatory. So where do you start?

There are two types of bloggers out there: those which are receptive to your communication and those which are not. The bloggers who are open to your efforts can be split into two:

• Ones that are purely journalistic and linked to a publication

• Ones that are not linked to on or offline magazines or newspapers yet keep an agenda of reporting in their own style and beat

Both of these categories attract audiences by delivering independent views, reviews and personal opinion. In addition they are often open to comments in response to postings (an opportunity in itself if etiquette is adhered to).

Proceed with utmost caution with the second category however, which will almost certainly not be happy to get your press release, comment or offer to interview XYZ of ABC inc.,… let alone politely take your follow-up call to see if they’ve A) received the information or B) are going to do anything about it.

This blogger prefers to stick to his or her own opinions and doesn’t appreciate being disturbed. There are a few examples out there of bloggers who have dissed PR and marketing people getting in touch, sometimes even going so far as to name and shame. I see no gain in resurrecting these as examples or further embarrassing the targets of such humiliation ~ but let’s avoid doing it in future.

However they do have a point! While the majority of us that work in this sector may consider such naming and shaming an unfair ASBO label, these hermit bloggers have a point, and a right, when you consider their reasons to blog: for their own agenda — not yours.

So how do you know which is which?

There is no easy shortcut. You have to do the research.

• Check out blog owner’s profile

• Do they invite opinions, news or express interest in hearing from others?

• Are there questions at the end of posts inviting feedback?

• Have they previously written about products or services similar to those you’re approaching them with?

• And if so, was it a positive or negative write up? If not — perhaps best to leave well alone.

The last thing you want to do is catch a non-receptive blogger on a bad day and have their wrath vented, about you and/or your client, like wildfire online. While you could say, once upon a time, that yesterday’s newspaper is today’s fish and chip wrapper it’s simply not so anymore. Online reputations tend to linger forever.

By Georgina Elrington, www.ctld.me

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