The Rise and Rise of Blogger Relationships: How can your brand keep up in 2016?

16 December 2015

The Rise and Rise of Blogger Relationships: How can your brand keep up in 2016?

For the past 5 years the landscape of digital PR has evolved dramatically with the ever growing presence of online influencers, who, we’re told time and time again, can propel your brand to stardom. By 2015 you should have had your blogger outreach strategy well moulded into your marketing calendar.

Blogger outreach should now be second nature to most brands and agencies, but finding success in such an agile, on occasion, volatile sector can be tricky. Here I’ll talk through a few of the most significant developments of the past year, and how you can ensure you’re using these changes to your advantage in 2016.

Not only have bloggers gone pro, they’ve hired agents
This isn’t exclusive to 2015 and some bloggers have been using agents for years. However, this is the first year that I’ve been in touch with a very large group of bloggers, and have been met with replies from agents. There are two key issues here:

1. Negotiation becomes tricky. The agent of course has to get paid, and this is often on a commission basis, meaning prices are getting pushed up

2. If the agent deems your request unworthy, the blogger may not even hear about your proposal for work

For marketers this is of course a pressing issue, not all brands can afford to pay for work with bloggers, especially if you are unsure of the results.

The solution for 2016: Ask for cases studies. Put your budget into the few, rather than the many! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked a blogger for a case study and have been met with silence. If I’m putting a brand’s budget into influencer relationships, I need to be sure it works. If the budget at stake is large enough, I’ll need a case study to persuade me. When bloggers ask for budgets and negotiate, you’re able to reciprocate in kind, and you should get all the information you need before committing.

Brands are hiring bloggers
Taking blogger relations to the next level. A trend we’ve seen throughout 2015, and in some cases earlier, is large brands hiring bloggers to help with blogger outreach, digital PR and content marketing. If you can afford this it’s a brilliant move. Many bloggers come from professional backgrounds, within their niche, which will be relevant to your brand. Having an insider view on how to approach bloggers will be invaluable, but what if you can’t afford this type of investment for your brand?

The solution for 2016: Host a roundtable with bloggers in your niche. This will provide you with invaluable insights into what bloggers in your niche want from brands, and how you can engage with them successfully. Why not invite 10 of the top bloggers in your niche for dinner, to pick their brains, and contribute to your strategy for the next year?

Bloggers are setting up their own businesses
Bloggers have a very entrepreneurial spirit. Setting up your own website takes work, let alone growing and maintaining a following. It stands to reason that many of these blogging professionals are now using their skills to grow their own business. Selling products, consulting brands or hosting events. Collaborating with bloggers through these ventures is a savvy way to gain natural quality coverage. You’re able to approach them, and offer something truly valuable. Whether that be investment, product or even consultancy.

The solution for 2016: This of course isn’t an issue, but more of a development to keep abreast of. Help out and get involved wherever you can! Particularly if you see a blogger you’ve worked with, numerous times, setting up shop. Offering your services can really help cement a meaningful relationship between them and your brand, even if you’re help isn’t needed, the offer will be remembered and it’s gestures like this which count in the long term.

Round up
Each of these developments points to an exciting year ahead for the blogging industry. The key is to remember that you must treat bloggers on an equal footing to your press contacts. These bloggers are not only the influencers of today, but the authorities of tomorrow. Be wise, and invest in working with your blogging peers in a collaborative, and mutually beneficial way.