The Secrets Behind Real Blogger Outreach

by Jason Keath on Jul 15, 2010
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Brands love bloggers.

Most brands and agencies, however, are bad at reaching out to them.

Influencers call many platforms home (Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Blogs) and come in the form of many scales. Smaller online audiences of influence can be 100 to 10,000 strong. Larger audiences from Twitter and Youtube super users are in the millions.

It is not easy to build the right strategy for finding and reaching out to influencers. So it is no wonder so many people are a little lost. Too often, little thought is given to this process by agencies and the copy and paste emails take over.

Trash the Old Model

The traditional press release and more modern PR email outreach methods do not work. Copying and pasting press release style emails to every influencer email and contact form you can get your hands on is bad in every way. If you don’t get that, then I cannot help you.

The basic problem here is that PR pros love the efficiency of these methods and bloggers hate them because they are rarely personal or even relevant in most instances. Let’s focus less on reaching as many bloggers and influencers as possible and start small.

Rethink the Relationship

The secret is not to seek partnerships with influencers but to seek relationships. Think of it like dating. You (the brand) see this new girl at school (the influencer) and she is really hot. I’m talking like Jessica Rabbit hot.

You want to break the ice. You want to ask her out, get her number, go steady (I think you get it). So what is your first move?

Well for one, here is a list of where you are screwing up…

  • You DON’T mass message every hot girl at school asking for a date.
  • You DON’T expect her to feel lucky to get your attention.
  • You DON’T ask her to go see the latest Vampire movie if she is clearly more of a Sex in the City kind of girl.

And a list of where you will get the girl…

  • You DO get to know what she likes.
  • You DO introduce yourself in person.
  • You DO suggest an activity that benefits you both – a U2 concert, a study session, dinner.
  • You DO suggest an activity that benefits mainly her – a Michael Buble concert, dance lessons, painting pottery.

There is nothing wrong with trying to make more money by encouraging word of mouth about your brand. That is the basis of all marketing. But to really be successful you must focus on personal outreach. And focus less on scale.

How do you do this?

1. Empower More Employees to Build Relationships

Zappos gives every employee social media training when they are hired, including a focus on Twitter. Because of this training they have hundreds of their employees, including customer service specialists and regional reps. Plenty of Zappos employees build relationships with their customers everyday.

This is of course a big boon to retention, but above and beyond that, these consumers are building a closer relationship with the brand and much more likely to become an organic champion. This is the way to scale your influencer outreach, train all your employees on how to use these tools, build online relationships, and how to spot which online consumers might benefit the brand with more access.

2. Empower More Influencers

Offering products and money to influencers is always an option. Whether you are doing a straight exchange of X for Y or sponsoring their blog, there is nothing wrong with supporting an influencer this way. But in addition to these relationships, also look for opportunities to bring value to influencers in the way of access.

Can you give them information that other consumers do not have? Can you give them information earlier than the public or the press? Can you use their feedback to improve the brand or a product? Can you give them a behind the scenes tour? Look for ways to involve them in the brand more. Look for ways to make them special.

Look for ways to make it fun.

3. Meet Influencers in Person

Simple right? When you want to date that hot girl, guess what? If you actually introduce yourself in person your chances of actually getting to know one another increase (I needed this advice in middle school I think).

This is a simple tip, but it is easy to forget. Real world relationships build stronger relationships. Once you have had coffee or a beer with someone, or even just bonded over a bad conference session, you just flat out know one another better than if you emailed or sent messages to one another on Twitter.

If you really want to build strong relationships with bloggers, go to events they are going to (Disclaimer: I run a series of social media conferences). Go to Blogworld and introduce yourself. Speak at a local Wordcamp. Or better yet, host your own events for bloggers. Invite them to a free event put on by your agency or brand.

Bloggers know you want to connect with them to help your clients. Don’t try to hide it, embrace it.

Because guess what? It turns out most bloggers would love to work with brands as well.

Post Author

CEO and founder of Social Fresh, the social media education company. Jason is a social media consultant, a social media speaker and industry analyst. He consults with corporations and agencies on social media strategy, building community, and influencer...

  • Jason – It's posts like this one that remind me why I like you so much. #3 is the key and the one that often gets overlooked. Face to face ALWAYS wins. I think that's where you really realize what kind of person you are talking to online. Conversations over coffee or beer reveal so much.

    DJ Waldow
    Director of Community, Blue Sky Factory

  • Spot on Jason. I'm adding this one to the “link it rather than rewrite it” folder.

  • reallifesarah

    Brilliant as usual, Jason. It tales time to do it this way, but it is SO worth it

  • I'm about to start a job where blogger outreach is going to be a primary focus. This post couldn't have come at a better time. Thanks so much. It definitely gives me a lot to think about it, and thankfully most of my early thoughts are very similar.

  • The opposite is equally true – it's so hard to reach out to brands, or even clients, using a blog, some of the time. The issue reaches out in both directions.

  • I'd love to hear more about your new job, Sue Anne. Blogger outreach is one of the most overlooked elements of a social media plan, in my opinion. It's good to hear your new gig will include that.

  • Good post, Jason — one of my favorite topics.

    The “I need you, you need me” aspect is more relevant in blogger relations than it was in traditional media relations. When newspapers and broadcast media were thriving, individual journalists didn't need PR pros to promote their content; publishers did that for them. Old school journos' livelihood didn't fluctuate with daily fluctuations in readership or pageviews.

    Today, though, that's not true. Many laid-off journalists are trying to reinvent themselves as self-employed blogger-journalists. That means relying on ad revenue, subscribers, pay-for-content, and — ultimately — traffic. Even journos at large publishers have added responsibility for using social media to drive traffic.

    Is RT'ing a journo-blogger's links fair game for building a relationship? What about #FollowFriday? Some PR pros have larger Twitter audiences than their reporter counterparts, creating a “Who needs whom?” question. Are their ethical concerns? (ex., If you keep giving my client publicity, I'll keep RT'ing you and promoting your articles. Wink, wink.)

    Blogger relations is tricky. And you're right: Most brands have only a beginner's understanding of how it works.

  • Amelia

    Awesome information, Jason. I love the dating analogy. If you ever want to come see the Zappos Family, you more than welcome. Schedule a tour at

    Thanks for the shout out and have a great day,

    Amelia and the Zappos Insights team

  • Ha. Would love to come see the insiders tour of Zappos. Sounds fun. Glad you
    liked the post. Thanks for commenting.

  • Tim Mears

    Thanks Jason, this article was really helpful.

    I have just started a social marketing post at a digital experience agency who are looking to expand this area of their business.

    Task number one is blogger outreach for a new online gaming format. This info has been invaluable.


  • Glad it helped Tim. Be sure to check out other articles on Influence from the site as well