Got news to share in Howard County?
As the person who manages the content and curation for HoCoBlogs.com, I know—and know of —hundreds of bloggers in Howard County. From my vantage point, I’ve come to have an (understandably) rich understanding of blogging, bloggers and the local blogging community. One thing I’ve noticed in recent years is how more local organizations, businesses and governmental agencies are working with with local bloggers to help the community at large be more informed and more engaged.
That said, bloggers are not reporters. They’re not paid—or the most part—to write and publish on their blogs and websites. As such, treating them as a press contact in your PR database to which you send news is an iffy strategy. Ignoring them (well, the ones that could potentially write about your business, cause, initiative, policy or whatever) is also folly. So, what to do? How should you approach, work with and support local bloggers so that your business, cause, organization or event reaches a more specific — and, I’d add, engaged — audience?
Here are seven tips that I believe will help you, the local bloggers and the wider community.
1. Make it easy for the bloggers. Do your work first so that they don’t have to work so hard to help you. Provide them with relevant links, background information, photos, videos and more. Include links to your website and social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and/or YouTube.
2. Get to know the local bloggers now, when you don’t have need of their support, rather than turning to them only when you need something. Come to the HoCoBlogs blogger parties, read and comment on local bloggers’ posts, do them a kindness and tweet or share their posts on your Facebook page and, in general, get on their radar. Many bloggers, in my experience, would be honored to be considered worthy and respectable writers to address a specific niche area or concern. Do them (and yourself) a favor by demonstrating that acknowledgement and respect to them now before you need their specific help.
3. Be selective. Assuming that every local blogger for whom you can find an email address is interested in your news by virtue of the fact that both you/your business/your organization and the blogger are located in Howard County is probably not the best approach. Or worse. Years back, an eager young employee (probably keen to show their boss their social media savvy) sent the same letter begging for news coverage to every local bloggers she could find. Alas, with her one-size-fits-all, blanket approach to contacting bloggers for support on an issue, it was her letter that became the news, more than the issue for which she wanted attention.
4. Not me. Please don’t send HoCoBlogs (me, us) your press releases. Our site is designed to publish the latest posts from close to 400 local bloggers. HoCoBlogs does not cover any local news.
5. If you have a blog, please submit your blog to our site. Then, every time you publish a new post, it’ll be listed on our site where the many visitors to HoCoBlogs.com can see it. It’s free to be listed and takes about five minutes to submit your blog.
6. With your twitter, Instagram and other accounts that allow hashtags, I highly encourage you to use these locally focused hashtags. Some of the more widely used and prominent hashtags include #HoCoMd, #HoCoEvents, #HoCoArts #HoCoVolunteers, #HoCoBiz, #HoCoFood and #ColumbiaMd. #HoCoEtcera
7. If you don’t have a blog and don’t foresee one in your near future, we recommend that you use the Patch.com system to post your event, news or announcement. It’s free to publish your news and info there, and in posting your information on Patch, you’ll then have a URL which can be widely shared online through social sites and email.
These seven tips can help your local business tap into local blogging power more easily. And, remember, never tell a blogger what to write and don’t ask to review their post before they publish it. They may ask for you to fact-check their post first, but unless you are paying them to write a sponsored post on your behalf, it’s their blog and their story to write and tell as they see fit.
Jessie Newburn, along with Robin Abello, is a co-founder of HoCoBlogs.com, an aggegator site that auto-updates with the hundreds of local blogs from individuals, organizations and businesses in Howard County. She can be reached at jessie@hocoblogs and on twitter at @hocoblogs.