Is it worthwhile targeting marketing and PR bloggers for your outreach campaigns?

I have read an interesting post earlier this week about Dave Fleet, a public relations professional based in Toronto, who was recently targeted by Molson a beer company who were looking to hold an event with free beer readily available.

Dave says the reason why Molson approached him was as they put it “to get to know folks in this space”. I actually think that’s very honest as there are a lot of companies and brands who don’t know anyone in the social media world and honesty is always the best policy.

He describes their approach as working for the following reasons:

  1. They pre-established a relationship with him
  2. They communicated casually with him
  3. They proactively reached out when they saw an opportunity that would genuinely benefit both sides
  4. They contacted him through the tools that he used
  5. They didn’t ask him to write anything about their products in return. They explicitly said he wasn’t expected to write anything about the event (Brew 2.0)
  6. He wrote a post about their blogger outreach
  7. Twenty odd people drank the free beer all night and will likely tell their friends all about it

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my beer as much as the next man but it has got me wondering if blogger outreach programmes are really as effective and targeted at the moment as they could be?

Does a blogger outreach programme really benefit from engaging with PR bloggers? Do our comments have a direct impact on the brand – in this case a beer? Do people really give a toss what our opinion on a brand is? Or does it matter how big your blog is and how widely read it is?

I myself have been targeted for blogger outreach on a number of occasions and I don’t find it offensive (if done well) as I do it myself on a daily basis for a number of clients. My colleague, Stuart Bruce regularly receives mobile phones, coffee machines, new books – some of which he writes about and some of which he doesn’t.

I suppose the question I am asking is the same as that of Heather Yaxley on her blog she asks: “So why are PR bloggers the target for this type of programme?  Just because I can leave a digital footprint, is that worthy of a company’s time in targeting me?  Is this really the future for PR online?”

Lets look at it this way, one person blogged about it. The post was then commented on by more than nine people to date. Then Heather, Neville Hobson and several other PR bloggers including me also commented about it creating quite a large online conversation.

I think this campaign was a good start for this brand and its got them some good exposure in a space where previously they had none.

I personally liked the fact that they responded to comments and questions really quickly which gave the whole thing a very personable and informal feel. Whether it will have a direct impact on the brand or indeed sales is yet to be seen but surely it can’t be a bad thing – as Neville so eloquently puts it “it’s a terrific example of smart blogger relations.”

Posted By Chris Norton

Chris is listed in the world's top 30 PR bloggers and a regular conference speaker on crisis management and social media marketing. He is also co-author of Share This Too and lectures on digital communications at Leeds Metropolitan University.


Dave Fleet

Hi Chris,
Thanks for the post – good to hear your take on it.
If I were the only person that Molson targeted, or if they only targeted PR people, then I might ask the same question as you (and I did, until I asked the company about it). As it is, they targeted a range of other people for the original event, including food/drink, consumer and photography bloggers (among others). As for the second bit of outreach, I guess I was just the only one of that group that was organizing an event at the time.
I’ve chatted to several people involved in this now and received a consistent reply as to why they did this: they have a bunch of people working using social media, so they wanted to build relationships with other people in that field. Seems fair enough to me.

Adam Moffat

Thanks for the added commentary, Chris. It’s been interesting to see this discussion evolve online, with many arguments for and against our approach. What i’ve tried to impress upon folks who’ve been following this thread is that we’re eager to learn about this space and how best to interact, so we happily welcome any/all commentary – for better or worse. We expect to stub our toes occasionally as we go. Lucky for us (and for me personally) we’ve got a culture here that rewards trial and error – which makes it a great environment to practice PR.

Chris Norton

@DaveFleet thanks for your comments. I think it’s an interesting story and you got free beer for your party – it all sounds good to me. I would have snapped their hand off.
@AdamMoffat Any company that rewards PR people for thinking outside the box should be applauded. If you want to do something clever and different you often have to take risks, many agencies have to be careful but I like it when a brand or company do something new because it creates debate/conversation and that’s what this space is all about.

Ferg Devins

Thanks for the comments. This has certainly been a great learning opportunity for us at Molson. Do also appreciate that a lot of folks are seeing it as direct, candid and engaging dialogue. I must say the approach that we are building here at Molson just that. Spin is dead…facts and direct conversations live on. That’s certainly what was intended. Beer in Canada continues to be “local” in the way we go to market and promote our brands…part of that extension of “local” is to be in coversation right here…cheers…Ferg Devins at Molson

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