What a P.R. Agency Wants in a Blogger

The “what” and “how” of the Agency-Blogger relationship is a topic many bloggers are eager to learn more about. Julie of 3 Moms in 1 is a blogger who works in an agency. She interviewed a handful of agency and PR representatives as research for this post.

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According to recent stats:

  • Over 12 million adults maintain a blog, while 57 million read and/or follow blogs.
  • More than half of all Twitter content is contributed by less than 1% of total users.

[Source: Blogging, April 2011, B2B Social Media Guide]

Loosely translated, if you are an active blogger promoting and conversing often on Twitter, you have value to potential advertisers. But before you can successfully capitalize on that value, it helps to understand how things work on the other side.

Consider this a crash course.

Marketing 101: Blogger Style

The backbone of marketing is the Marketing Mix. The term was coined back in 1965 by a man named Neil H. Borden from Harvard Business School, to describe how basic elements of marketing can be “mixed” in various ways to satisfy the needs of each particular product. Today, the marketing mix is often referred to as The Four Ps: PRODUCT, PLACE, PRICE, and PROMOTION.

How an Agency Works

The “Promotion P” refers to the communication with potential customers and buyers. This communication can include: targeting strategy, messaging, creative design, ad placement, public relations, and more. Today, with the growth of social media (including blogs!), marketers are increasingly calling on bloggers for reviews, giveaways, sponsored posts, ad banners, and more.

While a Marketing Manager oversees all of the Four Ps, they often outsource some efforts to agencies and consultants. Bloggers may be approached by media planning/buying professionals, public relations managers or sometimes, the marketing manager his/herself.

An explanation of the most commonly-evaluated attributes:

Rates

Traditionally, online advertising is purchased on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) basis, meaning the cost per 1,000 people reached. Online CPMs vary greatly based on size (reach) of the website and niche/focus of the audience. A very specialized website reaching financial planners and those who are heavily involved in stock trading, for example, may have a CPM as high as $50 while an extremely broad news site may have a CPM as low as $6.

Blogs are highly specialized forms of media; if today’s blog market followed traditional CPM models, they should easily support higher CPMs. But this is not often the case. The marketplace is saturated with user-generated content, and advertisers have literally thousands of blogs to choose from at any given time. To an advertiser, one handful of blogs is pretty similar to another handful of blogs which means that blog CPMs have been driven fairly low.

Tip: If you are just beginning to get serious about monetizing your blog on your own, don’t overprice paid banner ads. You want advertisers to give you a try, not scratch you off the consideration list because of poor pricing. Take what you can get at first. As your blog grows, so can your prices.  

Integrity

By partnering with your blog, a company assumes a public relationship with you. Also, your image may have a direct affect on how readers view the company.

It is important that your blog’s content is appropriately targeted, relevant to the brand, non-controversial (unless it’s a controversially-related product), and of good quality. It should be your content that makes people want to read and come back again. Your posts should be well-written, grammatically correct, and free of spelling errors.

Tip: Use spell check! Review basic grammatical rules – buy a book and refresh yourself if needed. Your blog is your brand; what you write reflects the quality and value of that brand.

Analytics

For the largest websites, professionals usually turn to systems like Nielsen Online or ComScore to determine monthly unique visitors, pageviews, and engagement metrics such as time spent on site. Most blogs are not large enough to be measured by these tools, so it is important to hook your blog up to a reliable analytics system.

Currently, the most reliable analytics systems utilize a javascript tag which is embedded on all your blog pages (or your sidebar, if it stays the same throughout all pageviews). Deletion of cookies and javascript disabling do affect the data, but this type of tracking is widely considered the most valid.

Tip: Avoid in-program stats like Blogger Stats (more on this in a future post). Try Google Analytics or GetClicky, or Stat Counter for your blog analytics. Don’t get intimidated by all the different numbers; most advertisers will be interested in monthly numbers, specifically unique visitors and pageviews. 

Some advertisers will require a certain number of followers (via Google Friend Connect or similar) before considering a blog, but most understand that GFC numbers don’t actually mean a lot. Analytics tell you how many people actually visited that month, while GFC followers could potentially have visited you once (to enter a giveaway, perhaps) and never returned.

Reach

Reach is a measure (or estimate) of the number of people who will see a marketing campaign via a particular tactic. The best way for a company to build brand awareness is to get that brand name and message out to as many potential consumers as possible.

Blog reach = # of unique visitors. But if you are simultaneously using Twitter and Facebook to spread a sponsor’s message, your reach is a combination of all those readers. Triberr.com is a site where your “tribe” (select people whom you invite) will automatically tweet links to new blog posts. This is a fast reach-builder because your posts are promoted to your Twitter followers and the followers of every member of your tribe.

Tip: Use Triberr with integrity. Join with similar bloggers who also create a high-quality product. When potential advertisers inquire about your reach, you can also mention your extended reach potential via Triberr.

Also, blog networks may be difficult to find and join, but many major marketing efforts rely exclusively on such networks to manage the selection and placement of campaign elements. Networks give advertisers the peace of mind that the message will only be placed on well-read and respected blogs.

Tip: If you have a good product, your audience will grow. Concentrate on quality, timely, and relevant writing. Once you have a solid product with many months of posts, you could seek out a blog network. 

Engagement

Having a ton of followers does not help if they are not engaged with your content. Analytics can offer a glance into your blog engagement with time spent and pages consumed, but more often, media and PR professionals will evaluate your blog by reading it, investigating your comments or perhaps inquiring about your Twitter follower count. Advertisers look positively on your blog if you are interacting with your readers and they are interacting with you.

Tip: Respond to the comments on your blog. Strike up Twitter conversations often. Read blogs in the same genre and comment, comment, comment. As other writers discover that you have similar interests, they will visit your blog – and comment – in return. 

Influence

The bottom line for all marketing efforts? Sales. Companies look for bloggers who have influence over readers, friends, and their community. By nature, bloggers tend to be influential. If we love a product, we’ll tell everyone. If we hate it? We’ll tell everyone.

Klout is not yet widely used by marketers, but it could provide a glimpse at how influential you are about certain content or product categories.

Tip: Visit Klout.com and review your Klout. If you have a high Klout score, tout it! Even if potential advertisers are not familiar with Klout, they will appreciate the learning opportunity and respect that you are on top of the newest social media trends. 

Permanence

In-post marketing is considered a more valuable asset to a marketing campaign than a paid button or banner placement because, as long as that post lives in the archives, it is forever. And if the post includes links back to the sponsor, it is searchable by spiders and bots that power organic (unpaid) search. For that reason, links have value even if no one clicks.

Tip: Include text links in your posts where applicable. Don’t go overboard and drive your readers crazy, but link where it makes sense. Invite well-known bloggers to guest post on your blog. Find places to guest post yourself. 

In case you didn’t know this by now, blogging is a lot of hard work. Just as a handful of kids actually become pro sports stars, only a fraction of active blogs will become superstar money-makers.

The biggest tip of all: Blog because you want to blog. Blog because you like it. Blog about subjects you are passionate about. If you have your heart in it, you have a chance.

As long as you put in the effort.

 

8 Comments

  1. Carri

    Great tips. Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Hopes@Staying Afloat!

    Wonderful tips! I’m just starting out so a lot of this is over my head…for now. But I will get there. Dare I say, I’m addicted to the whole blogging world!

    Reply
  3. Paula@Simply Sandwich

    Such great information! It is so fascinating to me the many dynamics of this blogging world. Thank you for presenting this complicated info in such an understandable way! 🙂

    Reply
  4. Mandi

    Thank you! I’m a pretty new blogger, slowly learning my way. I’m going to add stat counter to my blog! Very helpful info!

    Reply
  5. nan @ LBDDiaries

    What great – and understandable – information! Thank you for sharing this. It is very eye-opening and encourages me to make some changes.

    Reply

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