Why does basic blogger outreach still stump brands?

December 2, 2015 |

The way that people decide where to shop, eat, or drink has changed. Word of mouth is still pretty important, and there’s still the likelihood of spotting a burger bar review in the local paper to set your mouth watering. But, as the media has become more “user-generated”, PR for the leisure and retail sector has to be savvier to that.

I say that, and yet from many PR agencies, blogger outreach is appalling. As a style blogger myself, I see PRs from the other side of the coin, and it can be infuriating. I’ll receive poorly pitched emails from brands on a daily basis that get my name wrong, my hometown wrong, and sometimes, even facts in their own releases wrong.

It’s embarrassing for them (I certainly wouldn’t want to work for an agency that’s so ignorant) and a complete waste of money for their clients.

You’d be amazed at the household names who are sending out this rubbish.

Take a recent UK department store release which dropped into my inbox this week. Attempting, I think, to highlight a new range of shapewear, the release pretty much used all 300 words to patronise women who had failed at their New Year diets and, y’know, wouldn’t mind spending forty quid to hold themselves in. Nice.

Not only did I ‘junk’ it – I don’t write about lingerie, diets or, funnily enough, women-bashing – I saw countless influential bloggers utterly slating the brand on Twitter. Zero coverage, and lots of public incredulity that a national store could be represented so appallingly.

Surely this is basic stuff?

Just because the ‘blogosphere’ is a little more informal that doesn’t mean standards should slip when you try to get your brand in front of online influencers, regardless of your company size.

I speak from experience of blogging in the early days – so when you’re considering where to focus your digital outreach, here are some common pitfalls we know to avoid here at Tank.

Bloggers aren’t necessarily journalists. But sometimes they are. They (often) don’t get paid for the word count they churn out. It’s worth bearing in mind that motives are different for bloggers – you need to find something they care about.

Remember a budget. You shouldn’t think just because many bloggers do so as a hobby, you should tighten your purse strings. Even getting pally with the perfectly placed blogger shouldn’t lead you to assume they’ll definitely write about you.

Get social. They’re a chatty lot, and use their blogs often as an escape from their routinely unrelated 9-5. Have a Twitter natter, get to know them, compliment their cat. Haven’t got time? Make time. Or hire people who can do it properly.

Do something different. A press release might not be enough. Bloggers don’t often care for the boilerplate – they’re more bothered about personal experience, because that’s what their brand voice relies on. Host an event, and bring the right people on board to get it right.

I’m not saying for one minute that print coverage isn’t important, or that all online writers are dragons. But it’s nice to work for an agency that understands you can’t take a blanket approach to bloggers, or expects them to work in exactly the same way that journalists do.

Just like a more traditional PR approach, blogger outreach needs expertise – not a one-size-fits-all solution that would no doubt bite you on the bum, no matter how big your knickers.

Claire Reynolds