Bloggers now a regular PR target, shows survey

A world-wide survey conducted by global public relations (PR) company, Text 100, indicates a “mainstreaming” of blogging in most markets, with many bloggers reporting increased contact from PR professionals or corporate communicators.

The survey looked at 465 bloggers from 22 countries, which included questions put to South African bloggers.

The survey also noted that some of the worst practices of PR have been exported to the blogosphere too. Importantly for companies wanting to engage with bloggers, the survey indicated that there is significant opportunity for deeper relationships with this increasingly influential community.

Contact with PR people

  • More than 90 percent of the 465 bloggers surveyed welcomed contact by PR people — with SA being no exception;
  • Most report a high level of regular contact from PR people, with more than 96% of bloggers in the US being contacted once a week or more. This was versus 30% in SA, 36% in Asia Pacific and 65% in Europe. SA turned out the lowest in terms of frequency of contact;
  • Email is the preferred form of contact, no matter which part of the globe bloggers reside. SMS and IM universally are the least preferred forms. More than 90% of bloggers in SA indicated that they preferred an introduction before receiving information from PR people and corporations — and many of the Asia Pacific bloggers wanted face-to-face meetings;
  • Bloggers were united in their desire for distinctive content, particularly around new product developments and reviews, feedback on content posted on their blog, market trends and interviews with key people.

Content from PR People

  • Photographs are the most frequently used form of supplied content, followed by charts, graphs, and video streaming;
  • Almost two thirds of bloggers in Asia Pacific and Europe intended using more elements from Social Media Releases (SMRs) in the coming 12 months. SA bloggers seemed less interested in this, but required links to look at relevant information, including images.

Blogging Habits

  • Bloggers in the US spend the most time blogging, with 63% spending nine or more hours a week. In SA, much like in Asia Pacific and Europe, time spent blogging is much less, with only 30% of SA bloggers spending more than 9 hours blogging. These figures are 36% in Asia Pacific and 44% in Europe respectively;
  • Microblogging is used by more than 75% of all bloggers, but more than 90% in SA. South African bloggers don’t particularly believe they are blogging more often because of microblogging, unlike in Europe and Asia Pacific.

Bad habits from PRs
Bloggers pointed out the following bad habits from PR companies:

  • PR people continue to blindly send corporate press releases to bloggers;
  • PR professionals are failing to read the blogs and truly understand their target bloggers’ communities;
  • They seem to expect bloggers to post corporate material, demonstrating a lack of understanding of the medium and the very reason why bloggers blog;
  • They treat bloggers as they would journalists — and not as influencers which is more appropriate;

The key lessons
South African-based Text 100 suggests five key lessons for PR companies wanting to engage and understand the blogosphere:

  1. Corporations are increasingly recognising the influence of bloggers: The increased contact points to the “mainstreaming” of blogging as a communications channel, and the recognition by corporations that bloggers have increasing influence over their desired audiences.
  2. Corporate News Releases are out: Bloggers say Social Media Releases — or other more de-structured, personalised ways of informing bloggers, will have a greater chance of succeeding. The preferred source for content of SA bloggers are other bloggers, social bookmarking sites, social networks and microblogging sites like Twitter and Facebook. TV, magazines and newspapers were deemed the least reliable.
  3. Consistency and continuity are key: only a few PR practitioners are dedicated and dynamic enough to serve bloggers in the optimum fashion. It is really a 24/7 job, not the type of job which can work with one or two enquiries a month. Interestingly, some bloggers welcome contact after hours.
  4. The majority of SA bloggers are still part-timers: PR professionals should adjust their strategies accordingly. Outside of the US, the majority of bloggers surveyed blog for less than 9 hours per week.
  5. Most bloggers will acknowledge when a post is supported by a corporation: While more than 80 percent of bloggers, no matter their region, say they would acknowledge sponsorship of blog posts, North Asian bloggers in particular tend to be less likely or willing to acknowledge sponsorship.
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