This story originally appeared in PRWeek Insider on April 20, 2011 (subscription required).
With the emergence of today’s digital space, it is safe to say that bloggers are the new reporters and journalists. Their content reaches many at once and is easily accessible by a click of the finger. What bloggers choose to feature on and write about can go beyond just sharing light on a particular topic. Their opinions are well trusted by faithful readers, and their posts have the ability to persuade and most importantly, greatly influence perceptions. Blogging was one of the first Web2.0 technologies and it changed the dynamics of influence.
What does this mean for PR?
It is important to find bloggers who address the same audiences as your company. Once you find them, research their dos and don’ts. There’s nothing more wasteful than spending a significant amount of time reaching out to a number of bloggers and pitching stories, services and/or products that turn out to be of no interest to them. Also, make sure that these bloggers are people who do want to be contacted and if indicated, make note to follow their particular guidelines on how they would like to be reached. These initial steps can make the difference in unanswered emails, one-time features, or a series of professional partnerships based on lasting, trusting relationships that successfully introduce many to your company and the work that you do.
For Healthcare PR?
Bloggers have become a frequently referenced source of healthcare information. So, finding and reaching out to influential bloggers in your category is a critical component of your outreach. Bloggers themselves are individuals, and should receive customized communications instead of mass mailed press releases – they should be targeted to their blog and their community. Blogs should be analyzed to determine relation to the disease state, influence, and on-label suitability.
Special considerations may be necessary for healthcare. Some pharma companies are only comfortable reaching out to bloggers with journalistic credentials – those who have established a presence in traditional as well as online media, or are otherwise recognized as an authority in their area. Blog monitoring may need to be carried out to monitor the conversation and gauge response by the community. This, in itself, can lead to useful insights for companies. And understanding bloggers’ rights to make honest statements regarding products is a hard pill for healthcare companies to swallow.
However, the reward is a more personal interpretation of your news, told in an engaging way to a very interested community. Sometimes, it is through these posts that a person might first hear about a new procedure or drug. Ultimately, your company will engage in impactful relationships with people who have very personal connections to the stories shared.
When it comes to blogger outreach, make the effort. But do your homework first.