Eight years ago when I started blogging it was a much different environment for bloggers. We weren’t invited to much of anything. Then slowly bloggers came on to PR professionals’ radar as companies realized our value and the invites started to trickle in. But even then, there were times when I felt like my presence at media events was an afterthought–PR professionals not knowing exactly what to do with a blogger. Now, you can’t pursue even the most conservative PR or marketing Twitter feed without hearing the term “Influencer marketing” over and over again.
I have been to — no exaggeration — hundreds of “blogger events” and I can say with confidence there IS as way to do them right — and a way to do them terribly wrong. When done wrong, they can turn off the very influencers you are tying to connect with. Here are my tips for making a blogger event successful. I’m using a specific event — Style Week at Irvine Spectrum — as my pictorial example. Do these 10 things and you’ll be golden in the eyes of a blogger.
Media Passes: When the bloggers arrived, have them check in at the media center and give them media access passes. We like that. It’s a good idea to give bloggers the same access as traditional media. This takes some vetting on the PR professionals part, but it’s worth the effort. (Social Smarts Media can do this for you!)
Provide designated Blogger Area: Giving bloggers a place to do their thing is important. At this even (organized by PR pro Jane Gillespie) offered us our own Blogger Lounge. We had a table to spread out our equipment. We had access to free WiFi and lots of space to work. Bloggers are usually versed in many different media — photography, video, writing, live reporting. We need some elbow room to reload and get our material out. Remember bloggers often start getting their message out in real time, during an event.
Give quality Time with Major Players: Allowing bloggers access to interview and chat with key people in the company will help bloggers put together a complete story. We often ask PR professionals to scope out the blogs before the event and help tailor the blogger’s experience with the right interviews, photos ops and video opportunities.
At this event we were give time with Nick Verreos from Project Runway. He was the host of Style Week.
Make sure social Media Information is Easily Seen: This sounds so simple, but it gets missed almost every time. Post signs that list your hashtags and where the bloggers can tag you on social media. Provide props that contain the hashtag — like signs or Instaframs.
Twitter Wall!: No one loves a Twitter Wall more than me. The first event I attended that had our collective Tweets projected on a wall, held together by a short, simple hashtag, I fell deeply in love. Me and the Twitter Wall are planning a June wedding. (Just tinsy cautionary note: make sure you have someone edit the Tweets that go out. Been there. At an event when a free-flowing, unedited Twitter wall provided an unwanted roast of the host.)
Feed The Bloggers: It’s just good manners. At this StyleWeek event we received a nice boxed lunch provide by Nordstrom Cafe. Bloggers, unlike traditional media, can accept lunches and swag bags. This is a chance to give some media to ancillary partners — like restaurants, shops or related products.
Photo Ops: Though some will cringe when they hear this (I know my journalism professor would), but bloggers are usually part of their stories. Think about it: it’s usually our voice, our personality and our views that have made our blogs popular. It’s taken a while for PR folks to realize that bloggers would like a photo of themselves experiencing whatever it is they are writing about. It’s one of the biggest differences to note when working with bloggers rather than traditional media professionals.
Follow Up with Photos in Accessible Formats: Use DropBox to provide additional photos of the event. One little tip that I suggest is in the DropBox add a gift in the file — like a year membership or gift card.
Video Options: If you would like bloggers to make and post videos about your product or even, read my post: “Top 10 Tips for PR Professionals: How to Get Bloggers to Make Videos About Your Product or Event.” Clever title, no?
Keep inviting bloggers to events! If you need help choosing the right blogger for your event, contact Social Smarts Media.