Let’s face it, planning a Blogger Outreach is NOT rocket science. It’s actually fairly easy to do and is one of the more enjoyable parts of being a social media professional, in my opinion. But OH, can it be EPIC in its disaster if not handled right.
We all know bloggers turn to their social media channels to announce their disappointments and excitements, it’s what we do. Brands are aware of this fact, which is why they reach out to bloggers to spread their word. Duh, right? The best (or worst) online word of mouth marketing, right there in a tidy timeline package.
Big, little and everywhere in between bloggers have all watched drama after drama unfold when bad PR happens to good brands. It happens all the time, it’s par for this social media landscapes course. Many of us enjoy watching the backfire of bad PR. It’s a learning experience as well as cheap online entertainment.
Personally, I love when good campaigns happen, when the entire thing is done right from start to finish. I breathe a sigh of relief. Because way too often, we ride the rocky waves of bad campaigns.
If you’ve been following me since last Thursday, you know that a really bad PR campaign happened to me, personally. I’m going to bash or mention names here on my blog, even though I really want to. What I am going to do is explain what NOT to do when creating a Blogger Outreach Event. Because I think there are a lot of companies…both brands and PR…that just don’t know what they are doing. And guess what? This is one thing that I pride myself in being pretty darn good at, the whole blogger outreach thing. Because bloggers are my peeps and I’m a blogger so I live by the whole “do unto others” motto.
Lesson #1 THE INVITES: If you only have room for 8 then don’t invite triple the amount initially. Because…WHAT IF they ALL ACCEPT? It’ll look REALLY BAD if you have to UNINVITE these people. Oh wait. So, here is a little tip for you, it’s called “Phases”. Repeat after me…PHASES. Do you see where I’m going with this? You roll out invites in…say this with me…PHASES. That’s right. Room for 8? Invite 10 at first. Worst possible case scenario, you have 2 more people than you really wanted. Best case scenario, they all decline. Then, you roll out the 2nd phase. And you keep going until all the spots are taken. Note: Make sure you give a respond by date. A realistic one.
Lesson #2 The UNINVITES: You don’t do it. You send out invites clearly stating that responses are need ASAP because space is limited and yet, everyone responds…too bad. You’re stuck. You invited these people as your guests to the event, you make sure they are happy. As stated earlier, we all know what happens when some bloggers aren’t happy. It becomes a viral Internet situation that just makes EVERYONE look bad. Not good.
Lesson #3 Responding to emails: The whole copy/paste thing is fine, within reason. Make sure you personalize the email a bit. I know it takes some time to personalize the greeting and to add a little note directed to each person. But do it. Otherwise, you’ll come across as a jerk. It’s OK to be professional, it’s what you do. But, it’s ever OK’er to add some personality to your outreach.
Lesson #4 Responding to NEGATIVE emails: You screwed up. It happens to the best of us. You’re facing the ramifications of your screw up by getting an influx of hate mail. The copy/paste thing…it’s just not working. By now, rumor has circulated amongst all the bloggers who were invited to this event and emails are being compared. If everyone is receiving the same canned response, it’s just adding more fuel to this fire which, by now, is burning far beyond your control. Save yourself, respond to emails, tweets, fb messages. Kindly. With empathy. No LOL allowed. Bloggers don’t care that you created this outreach right before you left for a two day vacation. They care that they were invited and then uninvited. You wouldn’t want it to happen to you, right? Put yourself in their shoes when trying to fix what you broke.
Lesson #5 Blogger Outreach professionals: If you don’t know how to do blogger outreach right, then don’t do it at all. Outsource. Find a company that knows best practices. Because if Blogger Outreach is something you suck at, it’s going to give your firm and the brand a really bad name. You don’t want that to happen, not with everyone watching on the social media channels. It’s just a bad place to be.
Like I said before, Blogger Outreach…big or small events…not that hard to do. But, it seems like way too many companies are creating these fabulous events and not doing the outreach part right.
So yes, I did get invited to a fabulous sounding event. I received an invite on Thursday at 12:05 pm (via the timestamp on the email). It CLEARLY STATED that space was limited and to respond by March 21st. I responded at 12:12pm (that’s 7 minutes later, I’d say that’s ASAP) that I would, indeed, like to go. It said I could bring a kid, age 5-12. My youngest is 9. I told him about it because hey…I didn’t think, ok. He was so freaking excited, he couldn’t fall asleep that night.
Friday evening, I was UNinvited via a copy/paste email. I responded to that email letting them know, in very professional language, what I thought. A short time later, I received a copy/paste email from the owner of the PR firm apologizing and reiterating that it was a first come/first serve event. I didn’t respond. I wasn’t going to fight about the fact that I responded pretty darn quick.
Now, because I promised my son Florida, I’m looking to take him to Disney around the time we were invited to go to this Family Event in Florida. I refuse to let being UNinvited to an event disappoint my son.
That is why, when I create events, I think about the do unto others thing. The UNinvite was done unto MY son. I’m a grown up, I can compartmentalize the fact that this PR company just really didn’t know what they were doing. But my son? All he knew was that he was bummed out.
So those, up there, are a few little lessons into the whole Blogger Outreach thing.
People please…do it right or just don’t do it. Thanks.
I would like to mention, I was NOT the only blogger UNINVITED to this event. There was WAY TOO many of us who all received the same copy/paste UNinvite response.