Robert Scoble doesn’t strike me as a media baron. When I had lunch with the technology evangelist a few years ago, he came across as likeable, interesting, curious and of course connected to everything technology.
But looks can be a little deceiving. Since co-authoring Naked Conversations in 2006, he’s built up an army of followers and now wields influence that would make a media buyer drool, particularly in Silicon Valley, home of geeks and early adopters.
Super bloggers like Scoble have evolved into a new type of influential media powerhouse, often blowing by the traditional media. Most are not as well known as Scoble, but they often wield influence in their areas (for a glimpse of the new media in one niche, check out this list of top 50 social media and technology blogs). Now if you want to get your story out, you have to deal with the super bloggers.
But how can you connect with the new media elite? How can you get busy bloggers to write about your company, CEO, product-or interview one of your experts? (For now, I’m talking about the individual super bloggers vs the magazine style new media players like Huffington Post, or TechCrunch … although many of these tips still apply)
Forget “pitching” PR-style to the super bloggers with press releases and canned corporate approaches. Instead focus on leveraging your own content. Plant your own seeds, grow your own garden and then try to connect with the new media.
- Super bloggers are constantly looking for new content, particularly original content-and there’s no reason it can’t come from you/your company/subject matter experts (companies are now media too). You’re helping feed the beast.
- You’re sitting on a goldmine of content in most companies because you’re inside– stuff external bloggers can never access.
- Most bloggers, like most editors before, despise being “pitched to” PR style. But when you help develop and facilitate good solid content, you’re elevated in their eyes- now you have value. You’re earning a seat at the big shot’s table.
So first you need to quit thinking of your company as a second class citizen in the media race. You’re now a publisher. Think instead how you can transform that brainpower in your company into compelling content.
Here’s some tips to get started:
- Identify your heavy (content) hitters- Seek out 3 to 5 internal bloggers with deep, specialized knowledge-willing to share it (critical). In my industry (technology), that might be a lab researcher or microprocessor engineer. These are hidden corporate gems.
- Develop an editorial framework like the one I outlined recently to keep the trains moving and the post rolling in. This includes an editorial calendar, deadlines, and schedules to crank out copy systematically. Start with weekly blogger team meetings, move to bimonthly later.
- Create a publishing cadence and stick with it. You might set a schedule for starters of simply one blog per blogger per week, and build from there-if you miss a week with one, so be it. But try to stay on schedule-you’re a publisher, remember?
- Develop at least six or seven posts before you can start showcasing the work, and they need to be good. Review other popular blogs in your area and make sure yours matches up- or exceeds its peers.
- Always have two to three ever-green blog posts in storage in case you hit a dry spell for a week (holidays are notorious time).
If you have a limited budget, hire a free lance editor to come in a few hours a week and lend a hand. Most corporate bloggers need some kind of editorial support and hand-holding, even if it’s just helping them come up with ideas, framing them and doing some light editing.
The goal is to develop real content. Skip the usual corporate fluff and work with the blogger for inside, meaty material- example, “Yesterday, I was in a 3 hr meeting with customers and got an earful-here’s the key idea….”
Think like a journalist: What’s the story? Where’s the “tension” in the story? Secondly, what’s going to resonate with your key super bloggers?
Tackle hot industry issues first. If your blogger’s still struggling with the writing, interview them for a Q&A or podcast.
Once you start cranking out consistently solid, compelling copy, you can start connecting with the super bloggers.
For now you may just want to let the blogger know you’re a valuable resource-just make sure you send them to a relevant, compelling post for starters.
(In a way, you’re not pitching at all- you’re simply sharing your interesting content with the blogger. Let them decide on the angle; think of it almost like a public service vs a hard sell).
If you’re lucky, your post might spark another story idea-or a request to talk directly to your subject matter expert (an interview). Work your content, work your blogger–you’re only limited by your creativity when it comes to sharing and connecting.
For the more ambitious (with budgets), you can roll out your content over time as part of a planned media splash.
Let’s say you convince a senior researcher in your lab to blog about their work. They’re working on a new study that shows how educators are using Twitter to foster classroom interaction and problem solving. Rather send out another lame press release, you can start blogging about the study findings weeks ahead of time- why it’s important, what educators are saying, interesting angles and facets, etc.
You develop a list of commenters, tweeters and others following your subject, so when you write the big announcement post (the study findings), you already have a following.
The blog posts quickly generates hundreds of visitors and even shows up in the top Google rankings for some key search terms. Over several weeks, hundreds of more visitors swing by. Comments flow in, debate ensues; your blog looks like a beehive of activity.
NOW you have something to talk to Scoble and the super bloggers about-not just your study, but the overall buzz and debate around it. Naturally your management thinks you’re a genius.
(This is just one hypothetical example of leveraging content-you can also launch webcasts, Facebook events and more- again, the sky’s the limit).
Building a powerful corporate publishing machine won’t be fast or easy. But it’s really one of the few ways you can level the playing field and connect with the big guys.
Welcome to the new media business. Now what are you waiting for?