Blog post written by Georgina Coates who is Senior Digital Strategist at UK based, integrated communications agency Kindred. Follow George on Twitter @GeorgieC and catch her own social media thoughts at: What’s a Girl to Do?
Working in both PR and digital comms I have been involved with a number of blogger relations campaigns throughout the years. The most recent one I’ve been involved with has been for one of my clients, ‘make mine Milk’, where we invited mummy (and, not to be forgotten daddy) bloggers down to the London School of Coffee for a morning of Barista training and low fat semi-skimmed milk discussion.
After chatting to many of the attendees about how they liked being approached by PRs, plus some of their worst PR fails, I thought it would be useful to pull together a quick synopsis of some of insights I garnered as well as some of my other top tips on putting together a blogger event:
1. Put on an experience – bloggers are always looking for fresh, interesting (but relevant!) experiences to inspire their writing. From a PR point of view an event should be about provoking discussion and debate around the product/service you drawing attention to rather then some tenuous association. Think about:
a) Why would someone want to take time out of their busy schedule to attend my event / why would it be of relevance?
b) What do I want to get out of the event on behalf of my client?
2. Think about location – it may sound obvious but this will have the biggest impact on whether people can attend. Being city centric is not always necessary as long as transport details are clear and straight forward to follow.
3. If in doubt, sense check – there is absolutely no harm in sense checking logistics with a couple of target bloggers if you want to double check on timings and/or location. In fact this may throw up some other considerations you may not have already thought about (eg: child care, wifi/internet access, natural lighting).
4. Cover all transport costs – blogging for many is a hobby and therefore any costs incurred are not tax deductable. If you are expecting a blogger to travel to an event, you must expect to cover these costs.
5. It’s about relationship building and not ‘can you cover my story’ – working with bloggers should be about collaboration, sharing and developing ideas using their experiences/expertise of specific topic area (parenting, gadgets, green issues, food etc…). Rather then thinking about these as relationships being based on coverage, the focus should be on gathering insights and using those to inform parts of your planning. Coverage should follow if you are providing an experience which is fun, informative and thought provoking.
6. Incorporate a Twitter hashtag – using a hashtag on your invite can really help news of your event spread. Many bloggers are well networked in their particular fields and will share details of your event if:
a) They can’t attend and want to pass their invited onto someone else.
b) Want to check who else is going (in some cases to share transport).
7. Think about networks – as p.5, are there other places online where bloggers of a similar specialism are frequenting? For instance, in the UK there is Blogger.ed – a site based on forums created by a mummy blogger for other mummy bloggers and PRs wanting to reach out to them. These could be great channels to seed invites and/or sense check event suggestions.
8. Content, content, content – ensure that your event is full of interesting stimuli that encourages taking photography and video content. Not only does this generally make this a more engaging event but it also makes it easier for bloggers to write up their experiences in a way that is more engaging for their own users.
9. Goody Bags – always a fan of having something to take away after an event (!) this is a nice additional touch that should include some fun take away bits and pieces but most importantly, information on your campaign and any additional content your bloggers could require. Remember though to think creatively – what would they like to see in a goody bag? What would grab their attention and remind them of the experience you’d put on for them? Who could they potentially share the content of the bag with?
10. Stay in touch – Post event it is integral that you stay in touch. An occasional email would not go amiss if a particular blogger had expressed an interest in keeping up to date with your campaign but Twitter is also a great way to keep the connection going by replying to Tweets and retweeting interesting blog posts.