As traditional media, like newspapers, magazines, TV and radio, compete against the ever-growing cyber world, PR and marketing professionals face a challenge. While the optimum methods for building relationships with journalists are ingrained in good PR practice, what’s the best way to cut through the chaos and be seen online? The answer could lie in blogging.
So why are bloggers so crucial to the public’s shopping decisions and where did it all begin? It was the late 90’s when blogging was introduced to the web. At that time the blog host typically posted updates on their daily lives – a bit like a diary. It soon became noticed as a valuable platform for announcing news and launching products, and that’s when e-commerce companies and brands jumped on the blogging bandwagon.
As a business, it’s vital to have a blog to give your company a powerful online presence. As technology has evolved, it’s no longer about getting the right keywords in your blog, it’s about putting fresh, regular and good quality content out there.
As a brand, having your own blog is a cost-effective way to market your own merchandise. And getting a blogger to feature your product is a cheaper option than traditional advertising. Typically, a retailer only has to pay a blogger when a sale is made through them – unlike the up front cost of placing an ad. So it follows that the ROI for linking up with a blogger is better all round than paying for ads.
For the PR professional, forging links with the most influential bloggers in your market is key to success. A solid ‘blogger outreach strategy’ is key to digital PR success – your aim should be to get your product or news to be talked about by one of a host of influential figures in a relevant ‘blogosphere’.
In the main, getting a blogger to write about your product means that it should be seen by a highly targeted, interested audience. That’s because bloggers tend to focus on specialist areas, attracting a niche demographic of fans. And thanks to their links with fast moving social media platforms, such as twitter and instagram, your blogger may well spread the word a lot further than just their own page.
Unlike a journalist who may need to be sold in to, bloggers are often willing to advocate the latest home accessory, hottest fashion line or innovative food product if they like it. And with a staggering 84 per cent of people purchasing products based on their descriptions in blogs (according to Reasearch Now), the power of the blogger simply can’t be ignored.
So why do the public trust blogger? Regardless of whether a brand has given a blogger a product for free or not, the perception is that a blogger will give an impartial view. Why believe what the brand says about their own line when you can get the lowdown from someone ‘like you’ or a blogger with celebrity status? This is particularly key when targeting the younger generation who rely almost exclusively on the Internet for news and updates. But it’s also crucial for other demographics – those who use the Internet regularly for work and the ever-growing number of ‘silver surfers’.
Journalists are also increasingly turning to blogs for a quick way to find news stories. It saves time heading to a blogger who specialises in the area they are looking for a story in, and subscribing to things like RSS feeds ensures the latest posts are delivered to their inbox.
So in short, blogging has more than proved its worth alongside traditional media. As a PR professional, if you’re looking to increase brand awareness or launch a new product, it could pay to get a blogger on board as your brand advocate.