Bloggers: An invaluable communications channel

Filed as Features on March 16, 2007 1:13 pm

by Ed Lee

If you’re a blogger with a decent readership and a prominent search engine ranking, you’ve probably encountered someone like me. Someone who sends you emails asking you to write something nice about one of my clients.

If you’ve got a huge readership you probably get a truck load of these requests.

Why?

PRs already have access to huge databases (formal and informal) of pretty much all the media in their country/market that could write about the client. Most of them have to speak with the media and have good relationships with them as well.

Why would they want or need to go to the trouble of finding a blog like yours, reading it for an hour or so, finding your contact details and then “pitching you” on their client?

Well, the easy answer is that the email you were so expertly sent is easy and cheap to send. Sending information to a blogger is no more or less expensive that sending one to the traditional media and just as effective. Once we’ve got you in our insidious clutches (on a media list), we can spam away to our hearts’ content. I’m half joking.

The practical answer is that bloggers are, like the traditional media, very busy. Only a small percentage of bloggers are doing it professionally and making a primary source of income. Most blogs are a hobby which means for a blogger seeking something interesting and timely to talk about, an email from a PR like me or Chris Clarke can provide a spark of inspiration.

But bloggers have relatively small audiences compared to the mainstream media. Yes, but bloggers do one thing that the traditional media doesn’t do – they link to the people they’re writing about. And links, as we all know, are what the Internet is built on. The more links coming into a Web site, the higher it shows up on search engine results. So if a company sells something and isn’t on the front page of Google or Yahoo! for a specific search term, chances are that you’ll be hearing from them soon!

The final and most important reason though is that bloggers are trusted, influential sources of information. If one of my colleagues persuades the Financial Times or Washington Post to write about a client, that’s great – the article gets framed on the exec’s wall and…that’s about it. I like to think about it like this.

Out of all the people who read the publication, there is a small portion of people who the company really wants to read that article. What are the chances of that segment of the readership actually seeing this article in what is a pretty dense publication, of actually reading that article and finally, of actually taking action because of it?

For my money; pretty slim.

The truth is, people like you or me don’t want to be sold stuff by faceless corporations. We want to buy stuff from our friends, family or colleagues. We want to act on their advice because we trust them. On the flip side, we also want to pass on our experiences to our friends, family and colleagues and have them act on our advice. We want to be trusted.

PR has always aimed to influence the market through the media, hoping that the write up of a PR stunt or event will have people talking about the client. We’ve paid lip service to “the conversations” but now there is a way to not only monitor these conversations but to directly instigate them in some small way.

That’s why bloggers are getting emails like these.

Ed Lee is a Senior Consultant, Internet Communications, at Canadian Internet Consultancy iStudio. He blogs on PR, marketing and social media at Blogging Me Blogging You.

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