So you’ve heard that blogging is a growing field of marketing, and you want to approach a few bloggers about reviewing your products. However, you’re not sure what the etiquette is – you don’t want to offend and start a relationship on the wrong foot.
Here are a few tips on how to approach bloggers appropriately:
1. Consider the Blogger’s Position
A blogger who’s just starting out will probably welcome an appropriate request. One who already has an established readership likely will not. This dynamic isn’t a matter of blogger snobbery. An established writer likely already has ties, not only with his or her readership, but with other companies. Even if he or she doesn’t already have corporate ties, some form of brand loyalty in the industry likely exists.
This fact does not mean bloggers who are just starting out should be approached without respect. Your company is intending to build a relationship with this blogger, and relationships require respect to function. The blogger is going to work with you, but independently from you.
Another factor to consider is the blogger’s role. Bloggers are seen as neutral parties – that perception is probably why you’re approaching a blogger in the first place. The blogger’s role in reviewing a product is to give readers a balanced assessment of a product’s strengths and weaknesses. If a blogger agrees to review your product, you need to take the time to address any weaknesses the writer discusses.
The trouble comes if you expect the blogger to give an unremittingly positive review. Most will ignore such requests. Some will give your company bad publicity for even suggesting it.
2. Do Your Research
Before you approach a blogger, research his or her blog and other public resources. You want to enter into a business relationship with this individual. You need to act like this is any other business matter by getting the same sorts of background information you’d get before entering into a relationship with a prospective vendor or supplier.
Use that information to formulate a personal approach to the blogger, specifying the type of work you want him or her to do and what you promise in return. And make it contractual if the blogger agrees to write a piece.
Do not send what appears to be form letters, promise things like “greater exposure” as the only compensation, or try to dictate his or her work. Not only are these approaches disrespectful; the first is impersonal, the second is essentially asking the blogger to work without pay, and the third is not why you’re hiring a blogger. You’re hiring this specific writer because you want his or her tone and authenticity to come through.
3. Consider What You Can Do for the Blogger
You’re approaching the blogger because you want him or her to do something for you. You should offer the blogger something in return, since he or she will essentially be functioning as a part of your marketing campaign.
Offering something in return for services does not necessarily mean you give the individual a sum of money or expensive products. That looks like you’re paying the blogger for positive reviews. Offer simple gifts as thanks for giving product feedback and potentially increasing your sales. Most bloggers make little if any money from their blogs. If they do something for you, you should reciprocate.
Sometimes, what the blogger is looking for is a different audience. If that is what he or she requests, offer a place on your press page and perhaps a guest review in his or her blog. As mentioned before, do not begin negotiations with an offer of “greater exposure.” The blogger likely has more exposure than you do in the first place, which is exactly why you’re hiring him or her.
4. If Things Don’t Work Out, Let It Go
Nothing comes with guarantees. Bloggers will, for various reasons, refuse to work with you. They may not think their readers will be interested in your product, or they may not have time to do blogging for you in addition to the writing they do for themselves. Whatever their reasons, if you have approached them respectfully, that will be the end of the discussion. At least for now. Bloggers you want to do business with will also tell you why they don’t want to work with you. If the situation changes in the future, you haven’t burnt any bridges.
Approaching a blogger disrespectfully or becoming disrespectful after the fact means you’ve likely destroyed any chance of a relationship. Even if a blogger gives a negative review after a polite request, you should still maintain civility. Sometimes, things can work out surprisingly well. Even negative reviews do not mean the relationship will always be negative.
If a blogger becomes exceedingly negative towards your company after a request, maintain civility. Do not try to argue, because you’ll come off looking worse than the blogger. Let things blow over, and try to find someone else. If nothing else, use the rejection process as a learning experience. You just learned how not to approach a blogger, or you learned that this is a blogger to avoid. Take what you’ve learned, and move on to the next prospect.
When you have completed your contractual relationship with the blogger, remember to thank him or her personally. You just might want to work with that writer again.