Why you should get in touch with the blogosphere and how to organize a blogger event to get the conversation started

We don`t need to tell you that the blogosphere has become a serious medium over the course of the last years. The beauty of blogs is that they are so easy to use and thereby allow more and more individuals to become opinion leaders. You could say that they have democratized publishing and we now find all types of influencers even for the most niche topics. Think of Gary Vaynerchuk who revolutionized the way wine is discussed today. They tell their stories, share their passions and talents with their audience in a very personal way. Probably the biggest difference to traditional media or journalism – even though no blogger would see him-/herself as a journalist – is that blogs are really conversational. No more one way information flow and they are 100% subjective. Even though bloggers are a particular species of people they have something in common: They loooove to be heard. That is why they have started sharing their content publicly in the first place.
No matter which industry you are in you should take a closer look into the blogs related to your field and technology and start listening carefully. There are some very smart people out there talking about stuff that matters or why do you think they do reach so many people? But now let`s get practical and talk about some lessons learned while organizing blogger relations activities in the past. You will find now some basics steps to take once you have decided to move forward and get in touch with the blogosphere.
  1. Train your team: Make sure that your team and decision makers understand what blogs are and why it is important to get in touch with them (e.g. opinion leaders, knowledge exchange, research, word-of-mouth, etc.). Also make clear that you cannot and should not buy their attention. Bloggers hate to be instrumentalized!
  2. Create a blog list: Start subscribing to interesting blogs by using tools like google reader and organize the blogs in various lists. Start gathering useful information and share interesting content with your colleagues. Familiarize with the culture of blogs and read comments and follow the conversations.
  3. Select a short list: Once you have understood which blogs are most interesting for your business/product/brand make a short list of the most relevant and start gathering contact information and other useful data about the bloggers (e.g. location, information about the author(s)). It will facilitate your future activities.
  4. Set up a blogger event: If you have taken the decision to move forward start organizing a blogger event or find other opportunities to involve bloggers into your activities. If you go ahead planning a blogger event set up an one-day programme for a start which is interesting enough for a blogger to come and join you whereever you are. Some questions to ask yourself in this regard: How can we create value? Do we have something they are interested in? What can we offer that is special? What do we want to discuss with them? Which people should be involved?
  5. Send out personal invitations: Now that you know which blogs you would like to have on board prepare a personal invitation (email). But please do not send out mass emails! Add some personal aspects to the mail related to the blogger and/or his/her content. Very important: KISS → Keep it Short and Simple. Put only important information in it including the programme and explain clearly what you have in mind. Depending on the programme and value of your event you should send out more invitations then the number of people you actually want to host. Our experience is a +/- 50% positive response rate – if you really have put together something special and interesting.
  6. Be approachable and answer questions: When you have sent out the emails there will probably be questions related to accommodation, travel expenses as well as other organizational stuff. Make sure you answer all of them and start making the first personal connections. If you can afford it try to cover as many expenses as possible. In the best case all of them. Let them be your guests. And make sure to tell always the same story. Remember: People know eachother and talk with eachother;)
  7. Final preparations: When you have received the confirmations of the bloggers who will attend your event. Make sure to have regular meetings with all of your colleagues involved and go through the programme and agenda of the day. It is helpful that everybody knows his/her role and responsibilities in advance so they can prepare for the event. We have also learned that it is helpful to share some basic aspects of the blogger culture and some do`s and dont`s: Listen, don`t sell to them, be open, be honest, be personal and authentic, never try to buy their attention, speak like a friend and not like a pr person, etc… It is actually worth writing a full blog post about this but this should be enough for now.
  8. Enjoy the event: When the big day begins try to enjoy the event as much as possible. Be present and simply follow the rules of being a good host like you would be at your house. Not necessary to mention that you should leave a good impression with organizational stuff and that you should create a nice atmosphere which includes food and drinks, name plates, internet connection, a photographer, give aways, etc… Also make sure that somebody is taking notes during the whole day, so you don`t miss anything. There will be tons of useful comments and statements. Make sure this information is passed on to everybody who could be interested or in charge of processing it. Remember that bloggers are normal people. Appreciate them and make them feel special!
  9. Follow up: You will learn a lot during the event itself but it will be important to follow up. Send out feedback forms and ask who wants to receive regular updates in the future. Keep the conversation going. At this point bloggers should be taken care of like other pr contacts in a professional way. However, do not use standard pr texts and language in your communication. Bloggers hate that stuff! Make sure to understand what they want and need from you.
  10. Master blogger relations: After establishing this personal relationships to bloggers make sure to use the great opportunities to interact, exchange knowledge and ideas and get feedback and inpiration. Some examples: Send pre-launch invitations for new services, send out some products for reviews, invite bloggers for brainstormings, etc… Be prepared that there can be criticism as well. To be in touch with bloggers does not mean that they will love whatever you will do. See it as valuable feedback though!

We know that this is just a rough overview of some of the things you can do based on what we have learned. If you miss some information or have specific questions let us know about your wishes, so we can plan future articles featuring your questions. And now start reading those blogs and have fun in the blogosphere;)

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  1. Posted August 3, 2011 at 22:09 | Permalink

    Great post. Simple. Useful. Actionable. Valuable stuff for all those reasons.

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