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For years we’ve been integrating social media solutions into our clients’ media relations and marketing campaigns. And no, we don’t believe it’s new media vs traditional media, but rather a blend that’s unique depending on the audience you’re trying to reach and your specific business objectives.

We recently wrapped up a successful blogging campaign for a Maryland-based client where key industry bloggers hosted contests for their readers. We thought we’d share a few tips on some of the similarities between a promotional blog contest campaign and a traditional media relations campaign. But in today’s digital world, shouldn’t blogging just be another level of outreach in almost any media relations campaign?

We don’t pretend this is an exhaustive list so if you have other tips, please do share!

1. Find the right bloggers. Perhaps the most onerous task of a blogging campaign is weeding through the gazillions of blogs to find the most appropriate ones to approach. Like journalists or media outlets, it takes time to dig up the ones that will be a perfect fit – from both your and the journalist’s/blogger’s perspective. For the contest we just ran, it was important to find bloggers with engaged audiences, coherent writing and creative minds so they could have fun with the contest.

2. Be transparent. Unless it’s an exclusive to a key blogger, you’ll want to engage several bloggers in one campaign. To ensure transparency, be upfront and let them know they are one of several bloggers being contacted.

3. Understand their angle. Before connecting, make sure you’re familiar with their blogging style and content to ensure the fit is right for all parties involved. One of the biggest, and oldest beefs of bloggers and journalists alike is PR people don’t understand what beat/angle they cover. After all, it would be pretty embarrassing if you ended up being featured on the Bad Pitch Blog.

4. Pitch it right. Now the pitch…but this is a blog post in itself so come back later! Just remember to be succinct, transparent and respectful of their time and the audience that they’ve worked so hard to attract and maintain. You might also want to surf their blog site looking for disclaimers they may have about accepting pitches. Some bloggers have special instructions for pitches, and some won’t accept them at all.

5. Treat the audience. Just like traditional outlets, bloggers are there to serve their readers, so make sure there is a treat to get readers excited too. A win-win-win scenario will engage readers (who may win something) as well as bloggers (whose blog will receive additional interest), and at the same time offer the company discussion around their brand and promotion for their product.

6. Help them help you. If you’re asking a blogger to host a contest, offer suggestions on ways to run it. Most bloggers are holding down full time jobs so time is precious. And have unique ideas to share with each blogger. No blogger or journalist wants to run the same old story/contest – they all want to offer the latest scoop or best prize to their readers.

7. Promote the posts. It may be the bloggers’ contest, but it’s still your job to help promote it! Spread the word through relevant social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn Groups, Facebook Pages/Groups and/or blogs etc. Submit the promotion blog posts to Digg, Reddit, and to also help raise awareness of the campaign.

8. Track results. Use a link shortening service which provides analytics to track what promotions are most effective. This will help you refine your promotional efforts next time around and give you insight on where to find your audience.

9. Mind your manners. Don’t forget to thank those that helped make the campaign a success. Send a wrap up e-mail after the campaign ends to thank the bloggers. Not only would Emily Post tell you it’s proper netiquette, but you never want to burn your bridges. If it’s not confidential information, you may also want to provide them with insight into the success of the campaign.

10. Keep it fun. Even though a promotion should be tied to specific business objectives, it needs to be fun for the both the blogger and their readers. Running a blog campaign without fun is like making Sangria without red wine – no one will be interested.

When the goal is to generate excitement and buzz around a product or service, bloggers are a great resource. Build relationships with bloggers as they are an invaluable resource when establishing goodwill for your brand. If they see value in your offering, they’ll ask you to contact them again with your next opportunity.

In the case of our latest blogging campaign, the online buzz generated interest from  top-tier trade media too ─  the lines were blurred as the traditional industry media noticed what was happening in the blogosphere and picked-up the story as well.

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