CRACKING THE BLOGGER CODE

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BY: JASMINE WALTON

In the world of PR, blogger outreach is one of the sharpest, new arrows in our quiver. Why? More laser-targeted impressions, which means the right reach. And it’s only natural that followers are more likely to trust a blogger’s word over a branded ad.

Our zcomm team taps into the blogger world, in addition to other digital marketing tactics, to target specific audiences in industries including health, beauty, food, consumer and non-profits.

One of our key partner bloggers is Kimberly Vetrano, the founder of “She Scribes.” Kimberly doubles as a mother, wife, photographer and freelance writer. She decided to become a blogger because she loves to write, and blogging was a way to write about her life.

Kimberly prides herself on blogging about a variety of topics for a diverse readership. Her tag line is “A little bit of this, a little bit of that.” In fact, her blog topics are heavily influenced by her readers. She makes sure to read her fans’ comments, and even does yearly “polling” to find the topics that her readers find most interesting. In addition to blogging about her life, she also tracks and writes about what’s trending — crafts, recipes and style posts are all hot topics now.

When asked how she keeps her blog so active, Kimberly says her blog is her business, and she treats it that way. Kimberly says, “I make it a priority to post at least once a day, 7 days a week. If I have something planned on the weekend, I’ll write a post ahead of time and schedule it on the weekend.”

Kimberly tries to engage her followers through social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. “Social media influences my blog in a big way…there are plenty of readers who share the same interests and can engage with you about them on social media channels or via comments on the blog posts.”

Kimberly’s favorite social media outlet is Facebook. “I feel like I can connect with readers more on that platform. I can scroll down and read comments and reply to them when I have a chance. I feel like Facebook is more personal.”

When relevant brands come to zcomm for blogger outreach, we call Kimberly (and lots of other bloggers) with the kind of content that she loves. Because we know what she likes. So, when reaching out to bloggers, take time to read the blog on a regular basis BEFORE you contact them so you know exactly what they write about and the content that floats their boat. That’s the key to cracking the blogger code.

Lance Armstrong- What a Dope!

Lance has taken quite a spill and chances are really good he won’t be getting up from the ground anytime soon.

It’s amazing how much wool this guy pulled over everyone’s eyes. Not sure there are any sheep left. And it’s great that his early tattlers now have major street cred.

It’s true the guy had cancer and beat it, but that’s the only thing he honestly ever beat.  He’s been totally stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles and banished from the NY and Boston marathon books, too.

The guy is just a cheat, along with lots of his biker buddies.

I used to watch the Tour de France amazed at these ironmen with legs of steel able to pedal to a medal. But, now the entire world knows it was all a fake. His pedal-power was fueled by just the right amount of steroids to become superman without showing up on a blood test.  This was one cagey biker.

In the PR profession we’d probably counsel Lance to lay low for a long time and then spend the rest of his life doing charity work.  Oh, wait a minute…Lance already has a charity!  And he didn’t do LIVESTRONG any favors by ruining his good name.  And that name is being erased from the sides of bikes, helmets, jerseys and energy bars (so I just made that one up) even as I blog.

What was he thinkin’? Guess is he just wanted to be a winner and was willing to do whatever it took to get him to the medal stand. What a dope!

Lance not only gave pro cycling a black eye, but he also spoiled the sport for all the weekend warriors who strap on their helmets and ride 10 or 20 miles.

If I were Lance?  I’d grow a beard, grab my passport and leave town for a long time. It’s time for Lance to ride into the sunset and never show his smug mug again.

Big Love

So, Ann Romney set out to make us comfy with hubby, Mitt. Her speech was about love, and the love that started when she met the tall, funny guy at a high school dance a long time ago. And it was about the love and bond that women have for women and the strength we all share.

Ann is a good presenter who sure knows her way around a teleprompter. She’s slim, attractive and a natural. That said, I’m not sure she was able to convince undecided voters that Mitt is just a “regular guy.” And ya gotta remember that Ann is not a “regular gal,” either. Sure she’s had medical issues and five kids, but she’s also been pampered since she was a kid, had lots of help throughout the years, horses, (two) Cadillacs and the best docs money can buy. She is not the single mom working two jobs to make ends meet and has zero idea what that’s like.

But, she did an admirable job on a stage that was beamed to millions of watchers.

Then Chris Christie took the spotlight. At first I thought I accidentally sat on my remote and was watching an episode of “The Biggest Loser.” Boy is that guy big. I recently saw him on TV on a NJ boardwalk eating an ice cream cone. Good one, Chris.

But, he’s a good speaker, too. Though, Chris talked about choosing between “love” and “respect” and he chose “respect.” Wonder how Ann felt at that moment? After all, her speech was all about love. Doesn’t anyone go through these speeches to check ‘em out before hand?

And for the first 20 minutes of Christie’s speech, I thought HE was running for President. Not one mention of Mitt Romney. What’s up with that?

I get that Christie is a regular guy who talks like a regular guy whose job it was to introduce Mitt Romney as a regular guy, but when he finally got to the Mitt Romney part of the speech, Mitt was squirming in his seat and Christie was snarling. I thought the guy was going to have a heart attack and hoped there was a doc nearby with a portable defibrillator. CLEAR!!

So, it’s up to Mitt to show the country that he’s a regular guy who can fix all our problems like a plumber and show up on time.

Can an uber-privileged guy who panders to the far right, doesn’t spill his taxes, and refuses to talk specifics fix all that needs fixin’? I don’t see it. But, maybe his magic underwear will help.

Don’t Spoil my Winner

This post is part of a series written by zcomm interns. Be sure to check back each week for their take on the latest in the public relations industry. This week, Hailey discusses the 2012 Summer Olympics and the spoilers.

It used to be easy to avoid hearing about the ending of your favorite TV show or the result of the game you recorded but haven’t yet gotten to watch.  Most of the spoilers came verbally and face-to-face. I’d prefer it to stay that way, because usually you can figure out what they’re about to say and stop them before they do. But now, information is being thrown about everywhere, and it’s essentially impossible to avoid.

The Olympics started a week and a half ago, and there has already been public criticism about the way event results are handled due to the time difference. Usually when something big happens, it’s publicized right away, not withheld until the majority of people are able to watch it.

However, with this year’s Olympics things are much different. Most of us don’t find out about the results until the taping of the event is aired during prime time television.  This is exactly how NBC wants it to be, yet they’re among the biggest culprits. Last Monday NBC aired a promo for the “Today” show about Missy Franklin and her first Olympic gold medal before they aired her medal-winning 100 meter backstroke. Their poor planning spoiled the race for viewers.

In addition to the accidental television spoilers, some are also worried about what they’ll see on social media. I’ve had issues in the past with people tweeting who did and did not get a rose on the Bachelor, so I know how annoying a spoiler can be. On the other hand, I think the case with the Olympics is a bit different. The outcomes of the events are genuinely newsworthy. We don’t keep the outcome of the Super Bowl a secret because the game often ends after a lot of people like to go to bed. Why should we do it with the Olympics?

If all of the events were shown live, those who truly care about them would probably work around their sleep schedule to see them. For example, just last year more than 22 million Americans tuned into the Royal Wedding coverage, which started around 4 a.m. EST. At the same time, if events were aired at all hours of the night, people would complain about knowing the results before they’ve been given a chance to watch them. I’m sure viewership would go down as well.

Truthfully, I don’t think there is a way to deal with the time difference that will make everyone happy. My advice? If you really want to avoid hearing about the outcome of an event before you’ve seen it, stay off social media. NBC promised they will not have any more spoiler slip-ups, but it’s not like they planned to ruin the outcome of Missy Franklin’s race, so cross your fingers while watching TV. For more advice on avoiding Olympic spoilers, check out CNN’s list of tips. Good luck!

Young Guns Take on PR

The Washington Women in PR Emerging Leaders Awards is at the National Press Club and it’ll be one crowded event, and deserves to be.  It’s fantastic that WWPR takes the time and energy to salute up-and-comers in the industry.  Without kids passionate about PR earning their stripes, where would our industry be going?

The terrain has drastically changed over the past few years and will continue to shimmer and shift as everyone scrambles to learn more about the changing technology and how to integrate it into our communications practices.  No, not every new app, platform or blog site is right for marcomm, nor will every new app or platform survive, but it sure helps the industry to have youngsters come aboard who have been spending the last few years soaking up the new stuff and applying it whenever it makes sense.

It was the younger crowd in my agency that suggested we work with Pandora, Pinterest, QR codes and She Speaks on behalf of clients, and also know the exact online video hosts to reel in the right audience.  And if I ever have any question about what 20- and 30-somethings are plugging into, I just ask them in a meeting and we bat around new and juicy ideas.  Talk about off the grid.  Without emerging leaders, we wouldn’t have the freshest most innovative thinking.

And when we fold the new ideas into our proposals and programs they not only sizzle, but also provide new channels for an industry that has its roots in radio, print and online.  Why not leverage the video and audio and place it on key blog sites, partner with blog networks, catch active consumers in fitness clubs, grocery stores, even bars?  Let’s touch our audiences at home, on laptops, on tablets, on smartphones, while they work out, in airports, when they shop and when they go to the doctor.

So a big thanks to WWPR for putting on the event and props to the young guns who are smokin’ and propelling PR to new heights.

Spanish Spoken Here, There and Everywhere

This post is part of a series written by zcomm interns. Be sure to check back each week for their take on the latest in the public relations industry. This week, Claire discusses the importance of knowing your target audience.

If you’ve been living under a rock, you may be surprised to learn that America’s Hispanic population has grown to more than 50 million people, meaning nearly 17% of the country is Latino.

What’s more, Latino buying power this year is estimated at $1.2 trillion.

And if you’re not specifically targeting these consumers, chances are your brand is not relevant to them…a study on advertising effectiveness showed that 38% of Hispanics surveyed found English language ads less effective than Spanish ads in terms of recall and 70% less effective than Spanish ads in terms of persuasion.

But creating a Spanish-language campaign is only the beginning.

Researching your Hispanic audience to gain understanding and insight into their culture and lifestyle is key.

I’ll illustrate the importance of getting to know the unique needs of your Hispanic target audience with two examples, one about lifestyle and another about media consumption habits – – –

While in college, I attended a presentation by a Hispanic Marketing specialist that discussed the vitality of going beyond English-to-Spanish translation in your Hispanic campaigns.

To highlight this point, she told us the story of a client that came to her agency confused as to why their product was not seeing increased sales among Latinos, even though they had created new commercials in Spanish and placed them on Univision and in key TV stations in Hispanic-heavy markets.

Initially, the presenter’s firm wasn’t sure either. After conducting some research, however, they realized that the problem was a scene at the end of the commercial where the family dog jumped on the bed, the Latino owners petted him and he rested at the foot of the bed.

…Nothing out of the ordinary here, right? Wrong. While many aspects of the English commercial translated over, one cultural difference was a major turn-off for Hispanic consumers and affected their purchasing decision: allowing a dog on the family’s bed.

This example illustrates the importance of going beyond just translating your message from English to Spanish, and really delving into the culture and lifestyle of your Hispanic audience.

When customizing your communication to Latinos, it is also important to consider the way that they use and engage with media.

Here at zcomm, we deal primarily with broadcast and new media, so the staff understands the listening/viewing habits of many different segments of our population. While working on a radio promotion for one of our clients, I learned that, while Hispanics consume every type of media, radio is the most effective way to target this population.

Did you know that Latinos listen to the radio, on average, for 26-30 hours each week? To put it in perspective, that’s more than 13% more listening than the general population.

TV is another heavily-consumed media – with the growth in our Hispanic population, Univision has become the #5 television network in the US.

I could go on and on with these examples, but I think you get the gist, and since studies show that people only read about 28% of the text on a webpage (this percentage decreases as the amount of text increases!), I’ll stop here…I know my audience 😉

“Today” is So Yesterday

So, what’s going on at the Today show?  Can you imagine what breaks must be like for Ann, Matt and Al this week?  Yipes.

I never thought Ann was the right fit for the hole Meredith left.  Meredith was a vibrant and intelligent co-host, while Ann talks too much and too fast and isn’t an insightful interviewer.  So NBC got it wrong from the start.

I’ve become much more of a fan of Morning Joe these past few months (and I’m not alone).  Not to mention that GMA is coming on strong while Today’s ratings soften from too much soft news.  It’s hard to beat Mika, Joe and Willie’s rat-a-tat-tat style of news banter and the show’s overall energy, style and dynamism.  The Today show seems so stagnant in comparison.

The latest news is Savannah Guthrie will replace Ann.  That’s a step in the right direction, but more of a band-aid than a long-term solution.  Matt is terrific, but is best when he has the right sidekick.

Maybe Today should have conducted an online poll asking viewers their pick for Matt’s co-host.  My pick is to bring back Amy Robach.  She left in May to go to ABC as a news correspondent and has the magic mix of news chops, talent and smarts that’s perfect for the morning chair.

As for Ann?  Though not a fan, it’s tough to watch the show these days while knowing Ann is probably crying in her coffee.  The Holy Trinity is straining to keep it together until Ann vanishes into the green screen (or green room).

Savannah’s got big shoes to fill and they’re not Ann’s.  They’re Meredith’s.  And in my mind, they’re at least a size 10.