Blogs are a great way to engage with targeted online communities in areas which can sometimes be overlooked by the mainstream media. Over the course of the last 6 months, I have been engaging with the blogosphere for a client, and I wanted to share some thoughts and lessons to be learned from engaging with bloggers.
Blogs are an effective mode of interacting with your audience; blogs represent a certain “sweet-spot” between social media and traditional online news. The audience can read breaking and important news in their interest area, see all the images, details, video content and key insights and then comment, share and interact with the authors and subject matter in a more direct way than with more traditional outlets.
The readers of blogs are also encouraged to become part of the conversation. Therefore, rather than commenting on a website where only a small proportion of the community are looking to engage, with a blog the majority of the community are all looking to enrich, to share and debate the content.
Blogs and bloggers have certainly evolved over the past few years and are now a serious outlet for news, reviews and thought leadership. Because of this, it is becoming harder for communications professionals to define blogs and bloggers; there is a continuing blurred line between journalists who write in blogs and “true” bloggers.
Blogs are now ubiquitous part of the media mix and this is causing problems for people who are looking to define, engage with and utilize this growing number of highly influential and top quality blogs. The variation in traditional media is limited whereas the variation in blogs is great.
So, how can we define blogs and how can we in the communications industry use them to best effect?
- There are two main types of bloggers: journalists who write as bloggers and bloggers who write as journalists. The first category includes the commentary side of the blogosphere and the second category includes the more typical blogs which stretch across all manner of subjects. Blogs of this second category are the most common and the most likely to be utilized by those in the communications industry. This happens for a number of reasons. First, the editorial nature of the content; second, the news element in their respective areas and from a consumer point of view, and third, the role of reviews and consumer targeted content.
- It appears that blogs and traditional media are feeding each other with online sites using content from the blogs or using the themes to form a wider ranging piece. A recent study suggested that 92% of journalists go online for article research and content. However, blogs aren’t suitable for every client or announcement. For consumer audiences and niche audiences, blogs are a great way to publicize compelling content and engage with a targeted audience. However, those in financial or strictly corporate PR might not find blogs meet their needs.
- Blogs can be a highly effective way of reaching targeted audience as they are engagement based outlets. You can be sure those reading your targeted blog are interested in what you and your client have to say.
- One of the great things about the blogosphere is the conversational nature of engagement with the writers. Blogs are environments for sharing; the content can often permeate across different blogs as people read, like and then share with each other. This means that great content is very likely to find its way to readers who are interested in the subject matter.
- Blogs, perhaps more than anything else, represent a relationship-based approach to PR. Bloggers are passionate about their area of expertise and are under no real pressure to fill column inches so what is written needs to resonate with the blogger personally as well as with their audience.
The way we consume news is ever-changing, as we all know. With the internet now at the center of news delivery, blogs should be seen as a continuation of this. No matter what the topic, there is now an online community dedicated to the subject, so for every client, there is a blog which is worth exploring. If you have great content and an interesting story to share then don’t overlook the blogosphere.
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