If you want to get better publicity for your events, you need to reach out to bloggers, according to Michele Price.
Known as @ProsperityGal on Twitter, Michele weaves connections between small businesses, authors, speakers, bloggers and planners. She is known for her high energy and straight talk as a host on two radio shows, Breakthrough Business Strategies and Women in Business Radio, and as moderator of the Twitter chat, #Speakchat.
But she also works behind the scenes as founder of Social Media For Smart People, leading social media strategy creation, blogger outreach campaigns, educational workshops and results oriented coaching for B2B and B2C companies.
Why is the blogosphere important to event planners?
Event planners have the opportunity to expand and amplify their reach in many ways by finding creative opportunities to collaborate with bloggers. Our big world has turned into a lot of small worlds, and with the evolution of people's mindsets, it has brought a new expectation on how to communicate with each other.
Think about being able to have someone who has a trusted audience speaking for you and what is important, good and valuable about your events. Think about how that level of WOM (word of mouth) gives you a much higher ROI vs printed pieces that many times go in "file 13". Think about capturing new attendees because your event just was highlighted to a whole new group of people in a much more powerful way than TV or radio spots. Think about bloggers you work with not only giving you their "borrowed trust" , but also that wonderful permanent placement online, like a delicious layer cake everyone wants to eat. How wonderful would that be to help your event by having pieces of "blogger cake" all across Google?
What can event planners do to identify & reach out to bloggers who can help them?
That is the tricky and time consuming part. The most effective way to reach out is to find someone who does blogger outreach properly. Someone who takes the time to get to know bloggers and what they like, who they like and how they "operate". Just today I was in a room full of 20 bloggers, who discussed how annoying PR agencies were by bugging them with daily emails, lack of respect by not properly identifying if they were the type of blog that was needed for their campaign. Are you making the process smoother & easier for them?
It is rather simple, yet time consuming, which is why folks do not do it well. You read their blogs, you read their media pages, you read their tweets to determine if they are a fit for your campaign. And if a blogger reaches out to you PAY attention!
Should event planners offer free admission to bloggers in hopes of getting coverage?
The best spent money you could use, as technically it did not cost you anything ( unless you offer meals and that still is very CHEAP advertising) is having bloggers cover your event. How many print ads will be talking you up with "real people"? The news paper or magazine prints your piece and you HOPE someone reads it. I am amazed how many events do not think of actually paying bloggers to promote their events, as it is much more effective than traditional advertising and a higher touch point.
I promise you , somewhere you are wasting money on your event that could be better used by having a robust blogger outreach strategy. Remember you are wielding the power of a sales team that has trusted relationships when working with bloggers. That is way past the cold call phase of traditional marketing & advertising.
What is the best way to handle a blogger who is writing negative things about your event?
First, listen. Listen with an ear that comes from the perspective, "how did this look to them and why?" Remember, the world is watching. How much better will you look if you handle with respect, care and genuine concern for how they came to their conclusion. Lead off with "I read you are not happy, how can we help?" This is your customer service being viewed by thousands, if not millions.
There is also a pretty good chance if you are removing your ego from the situation, you are going to learn a great lesson and create a new process or solution for a problem you might not have realized existed. So, take the time to look at it that way and you will be better off in the long, as well as short term.
How can event planners learn more about benefits & tips for reaching out to bloggers
Benefits are huge when you handle it well. If the blogger has a good experience with you, then the next time you want to work together, it will go much smoother and faster. You will gain a high level of trust factor with their audience, which goes a long way in getting butts in seats. They will give you feedback that will improve your product and your delivery , which will also improve the ability to get butts in seats-especially now because you showed the bloggers, as well as the attendees that what they want and need matters.
They can talk with me! ( shameless plug for my blogger outreach services). This topic is talked about in many books, my friend Wendy Piersall with Mom Blogging, Mike Stelzer in his book Launch, Gary Vaynerchuck talks about it in Thank You Economy; of which all of them have appeared on my radio shows, Breakthrough Business Strategies and Women in Business Radio. Go listen to their interviews, they are equivalent to some free consulting.
Remember it is about the personal touch. If you expect them to devote time to your project, program or event, how are you showing you are willing to do the same?
What are the expectations of using a blogger outreach campaign in both time and responses?
Great question, too many times I see clients think you just have bloggers in your back pocket you will call on for a favor. For small things, that might happen once in a while. For a real blogger outreach campaign that is completely unrealistic.
Remember bloggers have an editorial calendar too. They have their own schedule and their readers expect them to adhere to them because they look forward to that from each blogger. It is part of the reason they follow their blog. It feeds them (intellectually,mentally, spiritually, humorously etc... how ever their readers are touched).
A common misperception on timing is that you can get bloggers to do something for you in a week or two. A more realistic expectation is 4-6 weeks. Remember you are asking them to position you in front of their audience, so they are in the driver's seat.
You might have reached out when they are traveling for a conference, they might have a tight deadline on their own projects or business. Always let them know the timeline you are working with and be reasonable yourself. Are you asking them to write a piece with less then a week's notice? Are you asking them to respond to multiple emails on a daily basis? Have you thought about how many people are asking them to do things? These are a few great questions to be thinking about and asking yourself.
Do bloggers expect to get paid?
Yes. Granted some will do a piece because you are a cause after their own heart ( do not play that card too many times). Do you realize how much work goes into their blogging? For example during a radio interview, Jason Falls and I were talking about the radio show and the time it takes to produce it. How many of you would have guessed it takes up to 29 hours to produce a 90 minute show? Think about that when you are asking bloggers for their help. Granted a radio show has more moving parts than a blog post, yet you do want to be considerate of their time.
Yes, there are bloggers who do not get paid for some pieces. But, I am going to ask you why would you even ask them to do something for you with no compensation? Compensation could be free gift or product for their review, it could be gift card they can spend how ever they want, you could buy advertisement on their blog, or it could be as simple as being paid money (just like you get a paycheck. )
For those who are not aware, there are FTC guidelines for bloggers on how they must represent such relationships and how they should disclose the compensation they receive. I would recommend that people familiarize themselves with those requirements. Also WOMMA (Word Of Mouth Marketing Association) has a great code of ethics I would suggest you read, absorb and operate from.
They are performing a service. They are putting you, your product, your book or your service in front of their readers. Compensate them in ways they like and you will open the flood gates on your own business's prosperity. In case you haven't noticed, I am about creating win/win/win situations, which is why my Twitter handle is ProsperityGal ;)
What are other ways to engage bloggers so event planners can benefit from their expertise?
Sponsor them to your events. Just like speakers, bloggers (depending on their audience size) deliver you valuable content just like a speaker.
Spotlight them on your own blogs, raise their exposure and you will be building powerful relationships, as well as serving your own community and clients.
Promote that they will be at your events and have a special "blogger area" where your attendees can meet and get to know them. How many people could be starting their day with that blogger and a cup of coffee? Leverage that relationship so it is a win/win/win.