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PR pros have accepted that Facebook and Twitter are necessities in the PR matrix of communications tools. Once you are on board with that, the next step is to understand that bloggers are also a tool that when used correctly can be a powerful vehicle for your brand and message. In the wake of disastrous blogger events such as the Marie Callender’s tasting dinner, blogger relations is important.
Bloggers need to be treated just as you would any prospective customer or reporter. Yes, there is debate and even a court ruling that bloggers are not journalists, but it is the manner you treat them that matters.
I am a PR pro and a blogger as many in the industry are. I was recently invited to the Vicks Vapo Dad event announcing Drew Brees as the first ever dad to be featured in advertising for the 100 year old product. The entire event from initial contact to follow up was a great example of blogger relations.
The event targeted mommy bloggers, so here is what made the event a success:
- The invitation was clear, concise and was not a BCC of several bloggers on one email
- They were up front in knowing about my blog, my audience and telling me the reasons event was a fit for me
- Extensive follow up was done to request food allergies, special seating needs, specific parking directions and attire for the event.
- The entire family was invited to be a part of the experience
- The event location was closed to the public so the mommy bloggers were not trying to juggle the kids in the middle of an open for business restaurant
- The event was not a press conference. The presentation was informative and intimate.
- The menu included a variety of options for adults and kid friendly foods from the fruits and veggies for health conscience moms to chicken fingers and hot dogs for the picky eaters.
- The wait staff was passing food and drinks, with lids, to the kids from the moment they arrived
- A house photographer was on site to provide complimentary pictures of each blogger’s family at the event. The photos arrived to my email before I was home.
- Activities were available to keep the kids entertained such as coloring sheets and dolls.
- At the conclusion of the event each blogger was armed with a bag of not only goodies but a flash drive of all the information on the company, the product and the campaign.
- Polite follow up was done to inquire about the event and the potential of a blog post.
This event was a success not because of the fact that Drew Breese was there but because the event was thought through from the user experience. The PR team even engaged a blogger in the planning process which armed them with insight to craft the event in a way that would meet the needs of their client and the bloggers.
While I was the only blogger in the room who was a PR pro carefully noting that the centerpieces matched the brand colors and that they were getting great coverage on the event by the army of TV cameras there to others it was not about that. It was about the fact that they walked out of the door from an event that they were touched by the Vicks brand in a positive way. The event had a relaxed feel to it and there was never a hard sell on the product, the company or what the PR team could get from the bloggers. Each blogger walked away with a positive experience from engaging with the Vicks brand. This is what blogger relations is all about.
The Vicks event was planned and executed by DeVries Public Relations.
Author’s Note: I have no tie to DeVries Public Relations and was not financially compensated by Devries Public Relations or Vicks.
Linzy Roussel Cotaya is a New Orleans based public relations professional with a social media hobby. Her resume includes a mix of ad agency and nonprofit experience. Follow Linzy on twitter, @zzcrawfish, or on www.crawfishtales.com.