Using Blogs for PR

Over the last few weeks I have had a few direct approaches to review websites or products on my blog. This method of using blogging influences for companies to gain more informal PR has been growing recently (especially in Australia) however how is it really working for the companies and the bloggers involved?

Companies have to accept that asking the blogging community to comment on their product or service does come with a level of risk. Not all comments will be favourable and the company has to live by the statement “All PR is good PR”. In addition to this, it is a time consuming process to identify the appropriate blogs to approach with their request. You don’t want to waste time contacting blogs with small readership, rather focus should be placed on larger, popular blogs where maximum reach can be gained. Of course, for the average marketer, there are few tools available to assist in this differentiation.

Using blogs for PR is not a new concept and it has been used overseas for many years. See this example Stormhoek Wines. As a means of evaluating how this is working for Australian companies now, let’s take a look at the companies I’ve recently been approached by and see how their blog publicity is going.

1. e-channel online recently sent me an email, commenting on my blog and attaching their latest press release (about signing Fairfax Digital to their SEM software platform) for my interest.

Surprisingly when I search for e-channel online through either search engines or a blog search, I’m finding very few relevant results (this is despite having seen the article covered in the online advertising media at the time too). This either means their blog reach was relatively small, that bloggers didn’t pick up on the story, or that the bloggers that did aren’t getting their sites indexed.

2. Another company www.clickfind.com.au asked me to comment on their site (either positively or negatively) in return for a business listing in their directory.

I haven’t commented on their site yet, but when searching the blogs I can see that a number of people have. See an example here and here. In addition to this, clickfind keep their own blog which I think is supportive of the medium and what they are trying to do here.

3. Lastly, in a slightly less personal approach, an email newsletter I received from Anthill yesterday asked bloggers to help to build awareness of their cool company awards. In return, bloggers can get their URL published in the Anthill Magazine as well as listed on their website. This campaign was approached quite cleverly in that it appeals to a bloggers desire to “be noticed”. Check out the page with the conditions and Anthill also provide assets to help bloggers with their articles. Given there is also a timing push on this one, let’s see how the campaign is going 24 hours after the initial email send…

Anthill email request

Anthill email request

Well so far there are a few blogs who have taken up the challenge. Here are two examples:

http://lagrangepoint.typepad.com/lagrange/2008/07/australian-anthill-update.html
http://kirstydunphey.blogspot.com/2008/07/anthill-australia-magazines-cool.html

The Anthill approach is certainly my pick of the ones reviewed as it is both meaningful and relevant to bloggers, provides tools to assist with the process and inform bloggers and is well executed.

Whilst companies may not be bowled over by the blogging take up, just remember that one blog alone could be getting 1000 people a day to view it, so the reach is possible. Like everything marketing, it’s all about targeting.

If you want to know more about how to leverage blogs in PR, check out this upcoming AIMIA event in Sydney.

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