When authors come to me and say, “I want to reach book bloggers or mommy bloggers,” I often have to tell them that bloggers have very specific tastes. More specific than you probably realize. For example, when reaching out to mommy bloggers, it is really important to know the age of their kids. Pitching a YA novel to a mommy blogger with a baby won’t get you far. Pitching a Sci-Fi novel to a blogger that loves historical romance won’t work either. Sending a WWII book to a blogger that covers the Civil War will make for a cranky blogger, and sending a press release to the wrong person may actually get you blacklisted.
So here are some tips to help you develop better relationships with bloggers.
Know Their Beat
The best piece of advice to any publicist trying to build a relationship with bloggers is to build it through mutual respect, trust, and consistency. Make sure you know the blogger’s focus and area of interest.
Search For Blogs
At FSB, we have also set up a directory where book bloggers are listed by category. Each book blogger has registered and submitted the information themselves and others are welcome to join the blogger directory. The directory is available for free to everyone – bloggers and publicists alike.
Value of Bloggers
It’s good to know the traffic of blogs, but don’t dismiss bloggers with less traffic. It is important to look at the “full reach” of a blogger. Sometimes blog features from smaller blogs can generate more chatter on social networks. It’s a good idea to follow them on Twitter and “Like” them on Facebook to check out their social networks. Some bloggers post reviews on multiple sites so they can be more valuable for that reason alone. Remember also, that placements on niche sites (with less traffic) can sometimes be more effective than placements on a large general interest site.
There isn’t a consistent way to get traffic information for every type of blog. However, here are a few tips: You can always see the number of people that are subscribed to an RSS feed (usually listed on each blog web site); another way is to use a web tool like Compete or Alexa, but unfortunately these tools don’t keep traffic for all blogs; and lastly you could always check out a blog’s advertising info or media kit.
Make Things Easier
Understanding the needs of bloggers will help you work with them. Make note of the type of coverage they have. Do they like to interview authors, review books, do raffles or post guest blogs? Then make sure you send them the materials they need in a timely fashion.
Because bloggers need quality content often, we have set up a web site just for bloggers called FSB Media. Bloggers can request review copies plus “grab” quality content from published authors. We make sure we have permission already in place so bloggers can feature the content on their site with ease.
Approach Bloggers One At A Time
Every time I say that, people either roll their eyes in disbelief or try to sell me on the benefits of mail merge. Here’s the honest truth: you are better off reaching out to 50 bloggers one at a time than 500 via mail merge. You’ll actually get better results. Is it time consuming and labor intensive? You bet. Is it worth it? Yes!
Without follow-up nothing will come of your pitching, so you need to find time to follow up and develop skills in asking without being pushy or rude. Every good publicist needs to master the delicate art of begging.
Represent Good Content
Don’t send out press releases, articles, or op-eds that are not written well. Make sure the content that leaves your hands always looks professional and does not have spelling or grammatical mistakes.
There are a few endorsements from bloggers on our site, and I read them as market research for this piece. Many of them noted that being consistent and professional is important to them.
Perfect Your Publicity Database
All of these tips are good and fine, but unless you make some changes to your contact database, these tips will be difficult to implement. At FSB, we have several fields in our custom-designed database that help us develop relationships with bloggers. We record when the contact was added, by whom, and any notes about their likes and dislikes. We also keep track of all the books sent to every blogger and which ones featured our books. This practice allows us to learn more about the blogger with every interaction and only send them the books he/she would be inclined to cover.
I hope these tips help you develop better long-term relationships with bloggers. A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog on The Huffington Post called Book Bloggers Rock! where I thanked them for their hard work and dedication to books and authors. I stand by that idea and encourage publicists and publishers to change internal publicity systems to develop an ongoing dialogue and relationship with bloggers.
For the latest on web publicity, social media news, and personal branding, follow Fauzia on Twitter: @FauziaBurke.