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Honing in on pitchable, receptive blogs for media research

How to get past feeling overwhelmed about the blogosphere

When you’re faced with the prospect of engaging blogs as part of a PR campaign, the sheer size of the blogosphere can seem daunting. According to Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2008 report, released earlier this fall, the blog search engine has recorded more than 133 million blogs since 2002. But while attempts to count the number of blogs online usually reach into nine figures, the number of blogs relevant for media relations professionals is—thankfully—much smaller.

As you start incorporating blogs into your media research, you may find it helpful to come up with some guidelines about the types of blogs that you’ll be seeking out. The blogs we add to Cision’s media database must meet a couple of basic criteria:

  • The blog must be newsy—no personal blogs allowed. This distinction can’t be made based on the topic of the blog alone: for example, some blogs about parenting are truly personal in nature and focused on the author’s adventures in parenthood. Obviously, those should be avoided, as bloggers in that category view their blogs as personal outlets and probably will not be interested in hearing from you. But others regularly review products and events and may be very pitchable from a PR standpoint. (In June, Cision released a tip sheet on pitching mom bloggers.)
  • It must be frequently updated. If focused on a niche topic, a blog may have a dedicated following despite being updated only occasionally. But in general, blogs that don’t offer a fresh post at least once a week fail to attract large communities of readers. Making sure the blogs you pitch are regularly providing fresh content has a direct impact on your media relations measurement down the road.
Source: Cision Media Research analysis of 65 well-known blogs, using Nielsen NetRatings audience data.

Source: Cision Media Research analysis of 65 well-known blogs, using Nielsen NetRatings audience data.

Some blogs may be desirable for a particular campaign simply for the size of the communities of readers they attract. But if you have your eye on a particular blog because it’s popular, as measured by audience figures, or mentions of the blog on Twitter or social bookmarking sites like Digg and Delicious, you still need to read the blog carefully and get a feel for its content to make sure it’s open to PR outreach before you proceed. For various reasons, about a dozen blogs in Technorati’s Top 100 don’t appear in our media database because they simply aren’t conducive to PR. For example, you won’t find the wildly popular “lolcats” humor blog ICanHasCheezburger or the addictive postcard confessions blog PostSecret.

It may seem common sense, but steer clear of blogs dedicated to a single company’s products or services, as the blogger will almost certainly not be interested in what you have to say. But some blogs hosted on corporate sites are still open to engagement. Dell’s main blog, Direct2Dell, discusses only Dell products, but In the Clouds, the company’s blog on the cloud computing phenomenon, covers a range of initiatives from various companies in that space.

Most importantly, take the time to get familiar with the content of the blogs you determine really fit the needs of your campaign. If you make that effort in the initial stage of your research of blogs, it will pay off when you finally do make contact.

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