Technorati’s latest Digital Influence Report showed that “consumers are turning to blogs when looking to make a purchase.” In fact, 31 percent of consumers say the personal blogs they read influence their purchasing decisions--ranking higher than social media outlets. In the blog world, influenced purchases are typically electronics, personal care and clothing-- but this statistic also applies to event attendance and ticket sales. For many blog readers, reading a positive review of an event is like hearing it firsthand from a trusted friend. Here are five tips to keep in mind when engaging with bloggers to drive event awareness and attendance.
1. Think local. When deciding what bloggers to engage, consider location first. To drive event and festival attendance, you’ll need to think locally. You can use the same geographic parameters as you would with traditional media. Blogs, by nature, often have national readership, so look for bloggers who have a local focus. Some of my favorites include Central Florida Top 5 (Orlando) and My Other City By the Bay (Tampa).
2. Research. There are more than 152 million blogs on the Internet. That’s a lot of options! One of the most important steps for meaningful blogger engagement is to identify those who fit your event and brand. If you’re hosting a family festival, focus on family and parenting bloggers. If it’s a fitness-based event, you’ll want to target health bloggers. However, be aware that there’s a lot of crossover, and the best way to gauge whether a blogger would be interested is to be a loyal reader. This gives you an intimate understanding of what the blogger covers and, naturally, makes it easier for you to provide worthwhile information to them. (Plus, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can get hooked!)
3. Read multiple posts. Just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a blog by its header. Read the “About Me” page, as well as the most recent posts. Is there anything that resonates with your event? Look for comments about planning a summer trip, being excited for the fall, looking for something new to do. Would your event fit in amid the current topics? Connect the dots for a more meaningful connection to the blogger. Remember that bloggers--like media--can receive hundreds of emails a week. Even a little bit of personalization can help yours stand-out among the rest.
4. Clearly define the offer and expectations. Once you’ve selected the blogger(s) you’d like to work with, clearly define what you’re offering and what you expect in return. Is there an exclusive preview the blogger can attend? If you’re providing complimentary tickets, state how many. If your end goal is a great post about their experience, provide a clear time line. For example, if the goal is to drive ticket sales, you’ll want to be sure the post happens in the proper time frame. Setting expectations ahead of time helps you foster a good relationship, and eliminates risk of disappointment on both ends.
5. Share the love. If a blogger writes something about your event, do what you can to promote the post. Bess Auer, founder of FLBlogCon, refers to it as “paying [a blogger] back in ‘social media cash.’” She suggests “retweeting the article, posting it to [the company’s] Facebook fan page, liking the photo on Instagram--or whatever it is you have access to. Always keep in mind that, oftentimes, blogging isn’t a blogger's full-time, paying job, so they’re spending their personal time writing for you. Don’t let it become a chore for them.
Working with bloggers can be an excellent way to increase event awareness and help generate buzz for ticket sales and attendance. When handled correctly, blogger engagement can be the first step in developing a strong relationship with a valuable brand advocate and influencer.
If you take the time to get to know your target blogger(s), offer an opportunity that is a win-win and always identify a way to show your appreciation, you’ll be on your way to a successful blogger relations program in no time.
Jenni Izzo is senior account supervisor at Linda Costa Communications Group, a PR agency based in Central Florida with a national presence. Her specialty is connecting influential bloggers with organizations and brands nationwide. Contact her at [email protected] or 407/657-4818.