In light of Martha Stewart’s recent comments
dismissing bloggers as “not trained editors and writers” and lacking in expertise, it’s a good time to revisit blogger relations for PR pros.
To be fair, Stewart seemed to be targeting actress and self-appointed lifestyle guru Gwyneth Paltrow during the interview in question. But given that Stewart has enjoyed coverage by food and lifestyle bloggers for many years and addressed BlogHer 2012 with warm praise about their status and accomplishments, many saw it as hypocritical, or at least ungracious.
It’s true that many bloggers aren’t and don’t want to be journalists, because their special sauce might be a bold, openly biased opinion or a quirky personality that comes through in their content. But blogging, particularly in the “parenting” category, has come a long way, and some of these ladies—and men—are extraordinarily prolific and creative. If you doubt the professionalism or expertise of a given blogger, as someone said recently, just try turning out 10 pieces of high-quality content every day.
We recently hosted an event geared to “mom bloggers”—PR parlance for those who write family and homemaking blogs that feature commentary and discussions focusing on daily home life, family, and parenting.
Sleepy’s, one of our retailer clients, expanded its mattress empire to the Chicago area. We wanted to welcome influential bloggers to one of their new suburban locations. The concept was to leverage the back-to-school timeframe and offer an evening of education about proper sleep techniques for kids, creating a buzz about the company in the new market.
Our strategy is simple. If Sleepy’s is merely about mattresses, it’s selling a commodity. But if the brand is linked to healthy sleep, it’s offering something far more precious.
We researched Chicago-specific bloggers and started forming relationships, and we learned that some find the “mommy” term slightly demeaning, preferring to be known as “lifestyle” bloggers.
More important, blogger relations rests on mutual respect and the offer of a valuable experience that can translate to relevant content for readers. Here are our guidelines:
Get to know them.
Read their posts. Be personable and informal, address them by name, and don’t sugarcoat your request. If you want them to write about pillows and you’re sending samples their way, spell it out.
Connect the dots.
Lifestyle bloggers are often looking for a way to write about your client, so make the product or service relevant. Sleepy’s knows healthy sleep is important to moms, both for their kids and for themselves. Reaching writers with branded content on a variety of sleep topics is a winning strategy for the retailer.
Give a little to get a lot.
For those who couldn’t make it on their own steam, we offered transportation. It’s a small gesture, but it increased our ROI.
[RELATED: Learn why you need a content marketing plan at our December content marketing boot camp.]
Personalize the offer.
Maybe they’re lifestyle bloggers, but these writers are mostly moms. Keep that in mind when planning events. Ask whether a cocktail event at 7 p.m. on a school night works. Kid-friendly surroundings, food, and transportation are a good start. Extras such as entertainment for kids will win points.
Marijane Funess is media relations director at Crenshaw Communications. A version of this story first appeared on the agency's PR Fish Bowl blog.