Just when you think that most agencies are starting to “get” Blogger Relations, a wave of bad examples pop-up.
Luckily, many conscientious PR bloggers have had the patience to explain best practices, and as an industry we can only hope for positive change (and/or some forbearance from justifiably cranky bloggers).
Our client, NEAT Receipts (previously covered in the “Turning Lemons into Lemonade” post), makes a handy portable scanner. Most of our work on the account, as you might expect, had been focused on businesspeople and, specifically, road warriors. “Go to a business lunch, then scan the receipt on the front seat of your rental car before you leave the parking lot; build your expense report as-you-go.” We get tons of ink for this straightforward pitch.
But one reporter whom we’d been talking to happened to leave her post at a techie outlet to join Martha Stewart Omnimedia. Wonder of wonders, NEAT Receipts received a high-profile hit with Martha Stewart: which promptly caused the NEAT Receipts scanner to hit #1 on Amazon.com, swamping the company’s e-commerce system for a day.
Between the Martha Stewart coup and a few subsequent “lifestyle” hits, we quickly figured out that this sleek li’l scanner was a hit with stay-at-home mothers who needed an easy way to capture their kids’ drawings, their household receipts, family recipes, etc. Lo! A new market was born.
SHIFT set its sights on mommybloggers. The problem was that everyone and their mother (pun intended) seemed to have discovered the breadth and power of this blogging niche. As a result, many of the mombloggers were being swamped with inane spam from lackluster PR folk. We needed to be especially careful and conscientious in our outreach.
After several weeks of research, we identified a niche-within-the-niche. Whereas most mommy blogs are, appropriately, about “being a mom,” there is a narrow slice of sites written by some seriously geeky, gadget-loving moms. Rather than hit-up all mombloggers widely, we narrowcasted our approach to a handful.
Stage One – “listening” – was a core component to the research. Our list of 10+ “gadget-lovin’ mommas” was whittled down to 3, once we realized that 7 out of our top-ten didn’t seem likely to appreciate our type of gadget or approach.
Stage Two incorporated respectful outreach, either via email or via the Comments section of the mombloggers’ sites. In the end, each of the three bloggers drafted nice reviews of the NEAT Receipts scanner.
But Stage Three was what differentiated this campaign from most other programs.
Most PR agencies would have been justifiably happy with these initial successes, marking it as a successful Blogger Relations effort. We decided to push the envelope.
We re-approached the three mommybloggers with a proposition: we’d give each of them 10 scanners to give away to their readers in a contest. To qualify, their readers would need to either:
a) leave a comment about “why I’d love to win a NEAT Receipts scanner” at the mombloggers’ sites, or,
b) write a post on a blog of their own, with a trackback to the mommyblogger’s post which had inspired their entry. (This was generally preferred, as it contributed to the mommybloggers’ own Technorati ranking and overall search engine rankings.)
Our humble scanner lit up the mommysphere. Due to this single contest running on 3 sites, we generated over 80 follow-on blog posts about NEAT Receipts, and almost 1,200 reader comments about “what I’d do with a NEAT Receipts scanner.”
This information was pure gold to our client, who had not only recently discovered a new market opportunity, but now also had access to hundreds of pages’ worth of free, user-generated market research which they could use to inspire future product development and messaging ideas.
From my perspective, this type of success – and the passion created for the NEAT Receipts brand – is even better than a Walt Mossberg hit! (Not that we wouldn’t love it if Walt took a look, too!)
Posted on: April 2, 2008 at 12:38 pm By Todd Defren