Tuesday, July 19

What Australian PR's think: What determines how and which bloggers you target?

Bloggers are slowly becoming part of many-a-publicity campaign these days... and along with tick in the box for bloggers in Australia, comes a multitude (or not) of pitches.  Have you ever wondered what makes a PR decide if you are 'right' for their brand?

I asked some of my favourite Australian PR's what their method was - very interesting responses I'm sure you'll agree.....

Kat Peden, Senior Account Manager - Verve Communications
When identifying a blog for a brand, it needs to be relevant but also we check who they are connected to (i.e. blog-roll) their engagement of their audience (comments, social media activity and responses) and any peer or professional recognition (awards etc).
What goes against a blog being engaged is:·      

  • Low community figures (‘followers’)
  • Lack of credibility  -  running hundreds of product reviews, plugging everything and anything. Lack passion and enthusiasm, which should be the essence of why a blogger writes a blog. NOT for commercial gain
  • Lack of social media connectivity
  • No clearly defined target audience i.e. parenting, food, fashion. The more ‘niche’ an audience is, the more valuable they become to a brand.  Mainstream media might not be able to tap into such a niche market or engage with them the way a blog can.

Multi-national PR consultancy - identity reserved
The mummy bloggersphere has grown enormously in the last few years and while it has been a bit of a learning curve, we’re continually trying to educate ourselves in this area as we realise the growing value and influence that mummy bloggers have in the online space.

When it comes to approaching bloggers we would firstly spend considerable time reading their blogs and researching their interests to ensure that the idea is relevant to them.  Relevance is key, we wouldn’t approach a blogger to work with a product or brand if we didn't feel it was the right fit for them. We invest lots of time in building ongoing relationships with bloggers and value these greatly, as we do in other areas of media and aim to keep up to date with as many newcomers as we can.

Lizzie Culverhouse, Senior Account Manager - One Green Bean:
We have a stringent process in place which we undertake before we add a blogger to our media lists 
and thus regular outreach.  Essentially, influence is the main criteria.  Any blogger we’re considering must be relevant and influential in the area they operate.

We have developed a robust identification method and scoring system that takes into account Google Rankings, engagement metrics and other client-specific criteria. This method has garnered consistently excellent results for our clients and has identified bloggers that we now have great relationships with.  The most important factor is how well a blog aligns with our client's subject.

Another key area is social media presence, so how many fans a blogger has on Facebook and how many followers on Twitter can point to a much larger online influence as well as greater chance of our story finding its way into readers/followers information streams .

Finally it's how many comments they secure from readers form posts, multiple comments shows many readers are actively engaged. Links to posts or Tweets from other Mum blogs are another indicator of influence.   We will share this knowledge with clients who of course, make the final decision on if a blogger can be approached.

Are the answers what you thought they would be?  Do you think there's any other 'measurement' PR's could be using to determine the value of a particular blogger to a brand?

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20 lovely comments:

Tony on July 19, 2011 at 8:54 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Another good topic Liss!

I agree with most of the points above however I do find the following...

The higher the bloggers following and readership may be, the more arrogant they sometimes behave towards the brand. There is is this mindset of 'we need you' or 'you need us', and the original intention of co-creating exciting and engaging content is diluted.

I agree that a blogger should have a relatively good reach and show credit where content publishing and consistency are in question, but I also know that sometimes the smaller bloggers (who are just as eager to grow their communities), are able to provide incredible reach through clever strategies put in place by the content creators.

At the end of the day there is either a natural fit between the blogger and the brand, or not. When the fit is right, it's the management of that relationship and the co-creation process that results in the efficacy of the association.

Ms Styling You on July 19, 2011 at 10:03 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Loving these posts, Liss! There's a debate going on in the US fashion blogging sphere about influence and reach after Vogue US signed a few "bloggers of influence". What makes a blogger influential? Is it the reach (a numbers' game) or the power to engage with an audience, gain their trust and influence their audience's buying decisions?

Personally, I think it's when both factors come together.

And Tony, I hope I'm not one of the "arrogant" ones. I get PRed probably on average 20 times a day. The pitch has to be good to attract my attention and it has to suit my readership.

As the only content manager on my blog, my time is at a premium, and need to make sure my content is spot on to continue to attract my readership, and therefore my advertising dollars.

Sorry, for the long comment!

Hear Mum Roar on July 19, 2011 at 11:25 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

This, as usual, has been interesting to read. I've always wondered how those emails come about:P

Diminishing Lucy on July 19, 2011 at 11:27 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

I am so loving these posts Liss - so useful in really getting an understanding of how the PR machines work!

katepickle on July 19, 2011 at 11:28 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

So interesting to read what PR peeps think is important as opposed to what little old me thinks is important! LOL

I find the followers comments interesting... I have a fair few twitter followers but probably more than half never tweet let alone actively engage with me on twitter. Which makes me thinks that sometimes numbers alone mean nothing... but then I guess you have to use the info you have the best you can.

I was interested that no one said anything much about the quality of writing. I was kind of hoping one criteria might be that a blogger can bring added value to a product through their writing... or is that of more value to a blogger and reader and less so to a brand or PR company?

Penny Whitehouse on July 19, 2011 at 2:39 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

@katepickle Great point Kate. I'm surprised quality of writing wasn't mentioned either.

Great post Liss. It was very interesting. Keep more information like this coming! :)

Madam Bipolar on July 19, 2011 at 6:31 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

I think outreach is in its infancy in Australia. However, it is good to see PR firms with such strategic approaches to bloggers. I know when I was a journalist, outreach was much more splattergun.
It is all so fascinating.

Samelia's Mum on July 19, 2011 at 6:39 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Love this information Liss. Thanks for this series of posts.

Melissa *Suger Coat It* on July 19, 2011 at 7:08 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

I think it is important to note that two of the reps mentions mummy bloggers or relating to other mum blogs. Does that mean that someone without children is overlooked despite meeting the balance of the criteria?

Also, how much of interest shown towards bloggers is initiated by the blogger themselves and follow up by the company?

Loving this series of posts. They've all been conversation starters, that's for sure. For instance, I tend to disagree that the companies don't use bloggers with loads of reviews on their blog, to me it appears that the reviews and product placement goes to the same group of bloggers. And they are constantly running the same sort of reviews. Over and over. Surely this, as said, diminishes the credibility as they appear to flog whatever, whenever.

Looks like I might be responding with a post... Cause I keep going on and on. :P

Little Miss Moi on July 19, 2011 at 7:43 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

I work in corporate comms (the non-agency side of PR) and this is all very interesting for me.

I imagine it is very labour intensive for PR managers to engage with bloggers. This is because the value in the blogger is their individuality, and there are indications from your readers on your previous post that some PR people already struggle with the individual engagement. Yet bloggers expect personally addressed emails or they totally disregard the PR firm and potentially the brand. And not only disregard, but potentially also discredit, and publicly (ie via social media or blog). So it is actually a big leap of faith for PR agencies to utilise bloggers to pitch brands and products to.

As endorsement through blogging grows, it will only become more labour intensive for PR agencies and firms to maintain these relationships with bloggers, and thus more expensive. I think that there will be a critical mass reached sooner rather than later, and bloggers may have to recognise that it's OK that they receive blanket mailouts, OR, the blog pitches will only go to the truly elite few (i.e. the superstar bloggers).

On the flipside is targeting journalists, where a successful pitch to a journo can run as a story in the front pages of the paper - which may reach up to 200,000 people on a given day, depending on the circulation. Alternatively a generic media release on a mass mail out may result in coverage across all titles in Australia, albeit a smaller article, but reaching a huge, national audience.

In terms of control, there are fairly clear rules of engagement between media/PR managers and journalists - basically the journo code of ethics - and there are paths of escalation for issues if a PR person believes they have been treated unfairly by a journo, and vice versa for a journo (what I mean here is there is always a chief of staff or PR Director to take major issues up with etc).

So I think that PR through blogs is still quite a 'brave new world', and that bloggers have to be just as careful to maintain their relationships with their PR contacts, as PR contacts are with maintaining their r'ships with bloggers.

That's just some random thoughts from me...

(BTW I am usually just a semi mummy blogger and lurker - this is the first time I have ever commented on any post anywhere sharing my professional opinions - I usually keep them for the workplace only!)

Liss on July 19, 2011 at 8:49 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

@katepickle Kate, I think the quality of writing would translate to engagement... because let's face it- the brand is there to be noticed and discussed.. Tony I think summed it up well "I agree that a blogger should have a relatively good reach and show credit where content publishing and consistency are in question, but I also know that sometimes the smaller bloggers (who are just as eager to grow their communities), are able to provide incredible reach through clever strategies put in place by the content creators."

Christie - Childhood 101 on July 19, 2011 at 8:49 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Loving these posts, Liss. Thank you for starting such a great conversation.

Liss on July 19, 2011 at 8:56 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

@Little Miss Moi I'm so glad you did take that leap of faith and put your two-bob in with your 'professional hat' because I think it's really inciteful! Thank you xx

Caz (The Truth About Mummy) on July 19, 2011 at 9:09 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Wow that was a really interesting read Liss. Thanks for doing the ground work and getting the info. I have wondered about this. Social media I think is just going to become more and more important. (But so time consuming to keep up with.)

Lauren on July 19, 2011 at 9:22 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

As the others have already pointed out, a eonderful, intresting and thought provoking post! To be honest, I had never given it much thought until now..

You certainly know how to make a girl think!

Kellie on July 19, 2011 at 10:21 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Well done again on getting the real story, Liss. I love that PR are going to such lengths to find the right fit for their clients. Hope there's more of these to come. :)

Veggie Mama on July 20, 2011 at 7:24 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

So fascinating to see how blogs and bloggers are seen by the "other side" for want of a better phrase. We ARE valuable, and it's fabulous to see the connections being made and the online sphere in Australia getting bigger and better.

Anonymous said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Enjoyed this post Liss, very interesting x

MaidInAustralia on July 23, 2011 at 8:20 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

As an ex-journo and sometimes PR peep, I see both sides of the argument. I don't get offended if I get Pr'd in a mass mailout, or they get my name wrong. Happened all the time over all media. But it makes a difference if they try.
What I used to get annoyed at when working in traditional media and now social media it's a bit the same, is when it's clear the PR hasn't even read the publication/blog and suggests something completly inappropriate.
The other disappointing thing is that I often get PR offers and reply, then hear nothing again. If blogging was my full time job, I could chase them up; but as it's not, I don't have time to, and I often wonder about missed opportunities for both myself and the PR.
I do think that good PR and marketing strategies definitely have to involve social media; it's influential and it's the future.
Until something new comes up!

themodernparent on July 25, 2011 at 7:33 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

I thought the connectedness to other bloggers was an interesting point. Will have to get around to displaying my blogroll.


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