Automotive Blogger Relationships


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Automotive Blogger Relationships

  1. 1. Vocus White Paper Five Golden Rules for Blogger Relations Tips and Tools of the Trade from Today’s Blogging Experts
  2. 2. Vocus White Paper 1 Five Golden Rules for Blogger Relations - Tips and Tools of the Trade from Today’s Blogging Experts Five Golden Rules for Blogger Relations Tips and Tools of the Trade from Today’s Blogging Experts Imagine you are a PR practitioner who has been tasked by your company with the challenge of creating buzz in the blogo- sphere1 to promote a new product launch. So you create a list of bloggers who have written about your company’s industry and prepare your pitch, and make sure to add links to additional information that would help them write a story about your company’s new product. Within two hours of sending your e-mail, you see that five bloggers have picked up your story. You click on the first story and are horrified to see that the blogger has completely trashed your company for ‘spamming’ them. Clicking on the others, you see that most other bloggers have responded similarly, and several have even posted copies of your pitch e-mail, criticizing both you and your company. Within 24-hours, your attempt to reach out to the blogosphere has turned into an utter failure. Does this situation seem uncommon? Guess again. Thousands of PR pros who have been successful getting their companies covered in traditional media have encountered numerous obstacles when dealing with bloggers. Still, for many the opportunity is worth the risk. In the past several years, the blogosphere has exploded. According to Technorati, there are nearly 70 million web logs (April, 2007) and the number is continuing to grow. Furthermore, more and more people are starting to read web logs. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project (2006), 57 million Americans currently read blogs. Just as interesting for PR pros is the increasing number of journalists who read blogs. According to a Euro RSCG Magnet and Columbia University Survey of Media (2005), 51% of journalists read blogs on a regular basis and 28% rely on them in their daily reporting. As a Public Relations professional, it is your job to find every opportunity to get your organization covered and be an expert on the inner-workings of the media. However, the explosion of the blogosphere has left many confused and asking key ques- tions: How do bloggers operate? What type of approach will get my news covered? How can I integrate blogs into my overall PR strategy? The new media landscape calls for new tactics and approaches to be added into the PR practitioner’s toolbox. We spoke with four of the top blogging experts in the industry to get their insights on how today’s PR professionals can successfully incorporate blogger relations into their PR strategy. Our expert panel included Shel Holtz, principal of Holtz Communication + Technology and author of several top PR books including “Public Relations on the Net”; Susan Getgood, founder of GetGood Strategic Marketing Inc.; Rachel Weiss, Vice President of eBusiness at Citi Cards and noted podcaster (Beware of the Babylon); and David Meerman Scott, online thought leadership strategist and author of ”The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to use news releases, blogs, podcasts, viral marketing and online media to reach your buyers directly.” Blogosphere versus Traditional Media With all the horror stories of PR gone wrong in the blogosphere, it can seem like completely uncharted territory. Behind each blog is simply a person who is passionate enough about a subject to want to write about it and publish their thoughts to the Internet. At its core, blogger relations is just like media relations because it is all about forging a relationship and treating the blogger with respect: When media relations are practiced very well, there really is no difference, despite all the arguments to the contrary. By “practiced very well,” I mean that the PR practitioner has established a relationship with the journalist, knows the kind of material about which the journalist wants to write, and approaches the journalist individually with an explanation of the value he is bringing to the journalist. Similarly, with a blogger, you want to know what the blog is about and what kind of content the blogger likes to cover, has ideally established a relationship before pitching, only presents a pitch about which the blogger would want to write and makes the pitch individually, not as part of a mass email. - Shel Holtz Although the general principle of creating a relationship is the same, the potential risks associated with approaching bloggers represent a new challenge for PR pros. According to David Meerman Scott, “the rules have changed. To get noticed, you need to be smart about how you tell your story on the Web.” As the introductory example shows, any PR is NOT necessarily good PR. 1 Blogosphere refers to the collective universe of bloggers.
  3. 3. Vocus White Paper 2 Five Golden Rules for Blogger Relations - Tips and Tools of the Trade from Today’s Blogging Experts Bloggers do not have to jump through the same editorial hoops as mainstream journalists, and therefore, have more of an ability to publish material that can be damaging and harmful to your company. As Rachel Weiss explains, “It is important to understand that there is a risk when you start reaching out to bloggers and pod casters because they are their own editors, no one is there to hold them back from sharing any thoughts they have, leading to coverage you may not want.” The Role of Bloggers In order to better understand how to create relationships with bloggers (and avoid the pitfalls) it helps to understand how they think. Many bloggers view themselves as the gatekeepers of today’s news. Some even view their role as being in opposi- tion to the mainstream media. According to Holtz, “Bloggers are assuming some of the influence on which media used to hold a monopoly.” It is also important to remember that many bloggers are not professional writers and do not make any money from writing their blogs. As Susan Getgood explains, “The biggest change from traditional media relations is that bloggers are far more likely to be part of the audience. An actual customer or potential customer as well as an observer and influencer.” Remember this when you are thinking about how to best approach a blogger. How would you approach someone you met at a networking social event? Instead of approaching them and pitching immediately, you would first introduce yourself and get to know them. Bloggers are uniquely positioned for a number of reasons. First, blogs represent an unprecedented opportunity to target your message. In the past, press releases that were deemed non-newsworthy never saw the light of day. With virtually unlimited space and restrictions, blogging has opened up a new avenue for the PR professional to target their audience with a high de- gree of accuracy. With so many blogs, podcasts and other social media dedicated solely to niche markets, a well developed press release or pitch is sure to get through and begin its dissemination into the blogosphere. Second, bloggers influence traditional media. As mentioned above, over half of journalists read blogs and that number is rising. As Scott writes, “Pitch bloggers, because being covered in important blogs will get you noticed by mainstream media. Getting your organization visible on blogs is an increasingly important way not only to reach your buyers, but also to reach the mainstream media that cover your industry, because reporters and editors read blogs for story ideas.” Third, bloggers influence search. Due to the heavy dose of links that are involved in blogging, they not only rank high in searches, but also influence the search rankings of other Web sites important to your company. According to Jupiter Research, 28% of top search results come from social media sites and many of these are blogs. 5 Golden Rules to Effective Blogger Relations Clearly, there are both risks and opportunities with reaching out to bloggers. In order to maximize your opportunities and minimize your risks, here are five golden rules to effective blogger relations: Rule #1: Do your homework - No matter what outlet you are dealing with, online or offline, do your homework and research. Nothing irritates bloggers more than being pitched on a story in which they clearly have no interest. According to Scott, “The PR spam approach simply doesn’t work. Worse, it brands your organization as one of the ‘bad guys.’” If the blog is a fit for the company’s news, you may already be familiar with its content. If not, familiarize yourself with the topics they care about and more importantly and the perspective they have. Not only are you more likely to ensure a positive response from the blogger, but you will also protect yourself from having the blogger write negatively about your company. Rule #2: Join the Club - The blogosphere is a community and to fully engage with it you have to take part in it. As Holtz explains, “Ideally, if you work routinely within a company or industry and will be incorporating blogger outreach into your efforts you should read and comment on these blogs regularly, becoming part of their community.” Participation in the community can take a variety of forms. Commenting on blog postings is a good first step to reaching out to bloggers. Another tactic would involve directly communicating with bloggers who you have taken the time to familiarize yourself with, but make sure you approach them properly. You should also know when not to pitch a blogger. If a blogger has ever written negatively about being pitched, let alone writ- ten negatively about your company, alarm bells should start ringing. Decide if responding is your best course of action before
  4. 4. Vocus White Paper 3 Five Golden Rules for Blogger Relations - Tips and Tools of the Trade from Today’s Blogging Experts putting your company back in the line of fire. As Scott explains, “Be aware of who you are pitching.” A more advanced outreach tactic would involve launching your own personal blog, a step that requires a great deal of time and effort. Maintaining your own company blog however, provided it is well planned and executed, can bring you a great deal of credibility in the blogosphere and opens up a new range of tactics for reaching out to other bloggers. Trackbacks for example, a method that allows bloggers to be notified when their content receives traction in other blogs, provides a social media friendly way of approaching bloggers. Rule #3: Bring Something to the Party – Do you only call close friends when you need something? If you do, chances are that you do not have many close friends who are willing to do you favors. A common downfall of PR professionals is not engaging in a true two-way relationship. You should take some time to get to know the blogger and what topics they find interesting. When you run across something they might like, let them know about it. It may not get you ink right then but will help you create a relationship with the blogger. As Holtz explains, “pass along ideas and links in which the blogger might have an interest that is not related to your client work – rather, you’re just being helpful. Then, when you pass along one that IS from your client, it’s just part of the mix.” When you do contact a blogger, they should know that you contacted them because you respect their writing and their per- spective enough to want them to write about your company. Instead of just sending them a press release (that everyone gets), why not offer them an extra opportunity to interview or speak with someone within your firm? If you are promoting a product, you may even want to consider sending them a sample of the product (within reason) before others get their hands on it. Much like a journalist, a blogger who thinks they have the inside scoop is going to be more inclined to spend their effort writing something positive about your company. Rule #4: Honesty is the Best Policy - One of the most important foundations of any professional or personal relation- ship is honesty. Many PR professionals question whether to let bloggers know what company they are with or whether they are connected to the news that they are sharing. The answer is simple: be transparent. According to Weiss, “Just like the old fashioned cold call, if it’s too corporate or too hard of a sell, you are setting yourself up for failure.” Holtz adds, “Be completely transparent and disclose clearly your relationship with the client.” Remember that bloggers often view themselves in contrast to traditional media and are highly critical of any media efforts that are not open and honest. They can sniff a fake from a mile away and when they do, they will make it their mission to publicize the truth. Rule #5: Make it a Lasting Relationship – If you water your plant and treat it well, flowers will bloom. But don’t expect them to bloom overnight! According to Getgood, “Don’t aim for the one big hit at any cost. Build mutual trust and respect, and you’ll reap far greater rewards.” Just like any relationship, good blogger relations involve a consistent and committed effort. The most successful online PR professionals have relationships with bloggers that they have been cultivating over a long time. If you have done your work properly, and engaged with the blogosphere appropriately, then you can expect a positive response when you are attempting to promote your message online. Conclusion Although the new world of blogging may seem unknown and risky to many PR professionals, at its core, it is about the same things that good media relations has always been about: building relationships and trust. As a PR professional whenever you deal with any writer, whether print, broadcast or online, show them the courtesy of a strong, well-thought out pitch that proves you have done your research. Getting involved with blogger relations might seem like a lot of work because it involves a great deal of research into who is blogging. Furthermore, with 80 million blogs currently out there, how are you to know which blogs are worth your effort? Vocus can help you get started. Our data team has spent thousands of hours researching and building profiles on the most influential bloggers across a range of industries. Through our blogger contacts database, you will have an instant shortcut to the top bloggers who are writing about your industry, as well as insight into how best to communicate with them. In addition, our blog monitoring and analysis product will help you keep your finger on the pulse of the blogosphere. In the Blogosphere, news can travel in a matter of hours- reputations can literally be made or broken overnight. Vocus users obtain near real-time coverage of the Blogosphere, alerting you when your brand or issue is be¬ing discussed the moment it happens,
  5. 5. Vocus White Paper 4 Five Golden Rules for Blogger Relations - Tips and Tools of the Trade from Today’s Blogging Experts allowing you to optimize your opportunities and minimize your risks. Finally, our social media distribution tool PRWeb provides a blog-friendly way of distributing your news and information. PRWeb news releases are enabled with social media friendly tools like Digg and Stumble It buttons; contain trackbacks; and have just recently added a new tool called ‘Blog This,’ which allows bloggers to easily post and comment on PRWeb press releases in their blogs. Furthermore, many bloggers subscribe to PRWeb thousands of news feeds and are instantly alerted when information they care about is distributed through PRWeb. To learn more about Vocus or schedule a demo, please visit or call (800) 345-5572. About the Contributors Shel Holtz, ABC - Shel is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology, helping companies communicate online. He brings more than 30 years of experience – more than half of them online – to his assignments. His clients have included com- panies like Intel, Symantec, Nestle USA, eBay, Pepsi, Accenture and the Internal Revenue Service. He is the author of several books, including “Public Relations on the Net” and “Corporate Conversations,” and co-author of “Blogging for Business” and “How to Do Everything with Podcasting.” He also has written with three manuals on using technology to communicate. He conducts the workshops “Writing for the Wired World” and “Integrating the Net.” He blogs at; his podcast can be found at Susan J. Getgood - Susan Getgood was among the pioneers in introducing children and parents to the Internet as an expert in online safety and General Manager of Cyber Patrol, one of the world’s first Internet filters. Her 20+ years in the com- puter software industry included leading a global marketing team as Senior Vice President of Marketing for SurfControl, with offices in the U.S., England, Australia and seven other countries. A results-oriented strategic marketer, Susan knows how to build brands using technology, policy and good old fashioned high-quality products. In 2004, she founded GetGood Strategic Marketing Inc. to help bring blogs into the mix as an indispensable marketing tool. Today, her firm helps public and private companies and organizations build brands and drive revenue with integrated marketing and communications strategies. Her own blog is Marketing Roadmaps, which is part of the Corante Network. Rachel Weiss - Rachel Weiss is Vice President, eBusiness, at Citi Cards where she develops New Customer Acquisition strategies via emerging digital opportunities, for College and Consumer portfolios. Previously at John Wiley & Sons Weiss oversaw brand optimization, advertising revenue development and online retail marketing programs for the publisher of From- mer’s, Cliff’s Notes and For Dummies. Weiss began comic blogging to promote a stand-up career. In 1997, Weiss first shared her thought essays on Weissworld. Hired as a senior writer on now-defunct, Weiss currently blogs at and podcasts Beware of the Babylon ( Having held creative positions at Sony Pictures and Miramax films, Weiss features a rare blend of solid e-commerce and entertainment experience. She is particularly interested in leveraging consumer generated media to responsibly promote products. • M.A., Cinema Studies, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University • B.A., Comparative Literature and Creative Writing, Hamilton College David Meerman Scott - David Meerman Scott is an online thought leadership strategist. The programs he has developed have won numerous awards and are responsible for selling over one billion dollars in products and services worldwide. He has lived and worked in New York, Tokyo, Boston, and Hong Kong and has presented at industry conferences and events in over twenty countries on four continents. Check out his blog at To Pre-order David’s book, visit http:// About Vocus Vocus, Inc. (NASDAQ: VOCS) is a leading provider of on-demand software for public relations management. Our Web-based software suite helps organizations of all sizes to fundamentally change the way they communicate with both the media and the public, optimizing their public relations and increasing their ability to measure its impact. Our on-demand software addresses the critical functions of public relations including media relations, news distribution and news monitoring.