Two-Way Street

PR, social media, events and incentives – Collaboration & communication ideas for demanding businesses from The Castle Group's Mark O'Toole

Posts Tagged ‘blogger’

Blogs: content, design and contact

Posted by thecastlegroup on August 10, 2009

We asked our summer PR intern, Emily Grund, to write a weekly column talking about her internship experience at The Castle Group. Please read Emily’s posts on Mondays to hear about her latest intern adventures. This week, Emily discusses her blog research projects. Is your blog PR-friendly?

Building relationships with bloggers is vital for PR professionals as readers turn to trusted bloggers for news and information. One of my regular duties as an intern at The Castle Group is to search for bloggers that might be relevant to Castle’s clients.

From mom blogs to finance blogs to travel blogs, I have scanned hundreds over the past couple of months. Below, I discuss my perspective of criteria the PR world should consider when determining to which blogs to interact with, and how bloggers can appeal to the PR community.

Content: Like researching any other publication, it is important to make sure the content of the blog is relevant for a PR pitch. Even within a category of blogs, such as mom blogs, topics range immensely. For example, some moms write about family development, while others write product reviews or money-saving tips. Reaching out to the right people is vital, as bloggers communicate with each other and will let others know whom to trust and to ignore.

And if bloggers are looking for suggestions to be more PR-friendly, keeping your blog focused on a specific topic will help you get relevant information as well as steady readers. For instance, if you’re a travel blogger, instead of covering the vast amount of information there is to cover about travel, pick a topic you are interested and knowledgeable in, such as finding good travel deals. Of course some bloggers are very successful at juggling a range of different subjects, which leads me to the importance of design.

Design:Finding blogs that are easy to navigate can say a lot about the blogger running the site. Knowing that they take the time to update frequently and keep their information organized is a good sign. Generally, blogs with thoughtful designs have more readers, so even if their readership numbers aren’t available there’s a good chance they have loyal fans.

Separating blog posts into different categories makes it easier for readers to find what they’re looking for. For example, if you’re a finance blogger that focuses on credit cards, break your blog down into categories such as interest rates, credit scores and payment tips. Or if you’re a finance blogger that writes about a range of diverse topics, break it down to investing, taxes and insurance. Without categories, readers need to search through pages of content to find a specific topic.

Another issue I’ve noticed is page length, both for blog posts and the actual page itself. Blog posts, I’ve learned, should usually be no longer than 1,000 words. Even that’s pushing it. Blogs need to be spaced well, and bullets and bold points are good ways to keep readers focused. Some sites I’ve seen have a large scroll bar and keep many posts on the front page. This is distracting and should generally be no more than four blog posts long.

One important factor about design brings me to my last point: If you want to be contacted with new ideas make sure your contact information is accessible!

Contact:Reaching out to bloggers, just like you would reporters, is the best way to begin to build a relationship. Contacting a specific person is always better than writing to a general inquiry form since you can deliver a personalized message to start a conversation.

The most common obstacle I have found when searching blogs is trying to get in touch with the blogger. Some have contact forms, but those are not ideal. If you’re a blogger that wants contact with PR professionals, create a place on your blog that has your name and e-mail, plus grant permission to contact to the PR community. Some bloggers have this information but it is so hidden it takes a lot of digging to find it. Going back to design, having a section that discusses what you’d like to be contacted about and how gives you a better chance of getting the information and contacts you want.

Doing these searches for blogs has exposed me to all kinds of content, designs and bloggers. It is easier for me to pick out blogs that work for Castle and those that do not, and why. In some cases it is easy to tell whether or not the blogger wants contact from PR but in other cases it’s vague. For those that want relationships with PR professionals but don’t know how to acquire them, the tips above may help you get what you want.

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Mom bloggers’ honest opinions carry heavy weight among consumers, companies

Posted by thecastlegroup on May 17, 2009

A powerful legion of mom bloggers have built up a strong following among both consumers and companies who value their unpaid, honest reviews of products and services.  

For a Castle Group client like “Ribert & Robert’s WonderWorld,” an animated educational program for children which airs on more than 100 stations across the country, few endorsements could carry more weight than a mom’s rave review. 

“I had the opportunity to view a couple of episodes of Ribert & Robert’s Wonderworld and am impressed at the educational value this show provides. It’s upbeat, fun, and will definitely keep the kids’ attention! I love the interactive aspects of it. I recommend this show to every parent or teacher looking to teach the love of learning to their children.”  

Bloggers are your consumers – they can effectively serve as a mini-focus group for your product or service.  Beyond providing products for review, in time you may consider engaging bloggers on another level – serving on an advisory panel or testing products during development.   

Engaging with bloggers is an important part of creating transparency and connection among consumers in today’s web-based world.

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