Back in 2006 when I started doing online public relations, blogger outreach was a minefield. Everyone was an INBOX-monitor and each pitch was a tentative toe into boggy turf. Landmine? Solid ground?
2006 was an amazing time: it was both the heyday of blogging — remember the midterm elections of 2006, ten years ago today, and remember how influenced the 2004 elections were influenced by these newfangled things called blogs and bloggers? — and it was years before anyone else besides my little agency was willing to engage these bloggers on behalf of products and brands.
While I like to think that those were the days, my friend, the days that PR and ad agencies were scared of their own shadows, we thought they’d never end — they weren’t, they were as dangerous and as tricky as you remember (if you can remember that far back).
But it’s not like that anymore.
The field may be way more crowded, with are entire industries (and some big agencies) devoted single-mindedly towards influencing online influencers. They may have deep pockets and are willing to actually buy reviews, posts, mentions, links, and shares. But there’s never been a better time to engage online influencers and micro-influencers than today.
Back in 2006, most bloggers of any note had zero tech savvy. They were what they were blogging about first and about the Internet, the publishing platform, and the technology second or even third.
In order for a pitch to result in a post or earned media mention, one needed to overcome a dozen technological and communications hurdles, intimidating just about everyone, especially all the communications and PR professionals who where, heretofore, used to engaging only with other communications professionals known as journalists, reporters, anchormen, editors, and critics.
Back in the day, if you attempted to engage a blogger via email and you attached a PDF or even included your messaging inline, resplendent with logos, portraits, videos, images, and product photos, you would need to spend the next however many hours trying to explain how to extract all the good stuff not hosted online and migrate it to a server so that all those rich media goodies and links ended up as close to as you intended when the blogger finally got to [Publish].
Now, in 2016, while I don’t recommend it, bloggers are pros, man! They’ve even sorted out the dark art of affiliate marketing and have tuned their lowly Honda Civic blogs into Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift!
These days, bloggers and online influencers don’t get paranoid and pissed nearly as quickly, they’re not all freaked out that you’ve emailed them at all. In 2016, they’re ready with a media kit, a menu of prices and services, and a PayPal-ready email address! And, if you play your cards right and have them at “hello,” you can also still, ten years later, earn an earned media mention — as long as your client and the blogger can find a way to seriously connect, to vibe, to fall in love at first mail.
So, while Gerris Corp is no longer the only shop in town, the persistence and success of influencer marketing and micro-influencer marketing has led to a much more sophisticated and savvy industry in in toto. I still recommend developing “steal me,” easy-to-use and deploy onto a blog Social Media News Releases (SMNRs) in order to both make each engagement as frictionless as possible. You can meet each influencer and each blogger as far past halfway as humanly possible. Not only that, but old bloggers and social media influencers are retiring every day only to be replaced by fresh-faced blogging neophytes — and it’s up to you to raise ’em up!
So, welcome all you online influencer marketers, and you’re welcome! Folks are even savvy pretty far down the long tail, deep into the wild west of the micro-influencer. These are amazing times. Why? Because everything can be above board now.
What this means, now, is that everyone knows — or is getting to know — their value. They know the lingo. They have experience in negotiation, and engaging with online influencers is at least as it was engaging with the Press back in the day.
And even if they’re not feeling the particular campaign your pitching, they all know, now, that there will be another campaign down the road and that burning bridges goes both ways. Once you’re on my DNC list — do not contact — you’re dead to Gerris. Even though I might not have gotten this week’s synergy 100%, I might have just what you’ve always wanted next week, so folks tend to cut me — and all of us — some slack because PR’s like fishing: even if you get the perfect lure, the perfect test for the catch, and even the perfect fishing hole, there’s not guarantee what you hook is going to be what you keep — there’s a lot of release. And, today’s junk fish is tomorrow’s tilapia or sea bass.
So, welcome to this fine world of influencer marketing, be it earned media blogger outreach or paid micro-influencer engagement. These may no longer be the hay days of influencer marketing, but they are the days when influencer marketing has finally found its legitimacy, found its true marketplace. Like SEO, we’re in a post snake oil world for these industries.
Now, if you’re American and haven’t voted yet, get off your duff and go vote! And, if you’ve already voted, bully to you. If you’re in line at your polling place reading this on your phone, then respect!