I’ve worked with a number of charities in my blogging time and known many other bloggers who have. I’ve heard bloggers discussing what they liked about a campaign and what they didn’t. And so here I am writing a list of what I believe makes for a lasting and effective relationship between charities and bloggers.
I’ve received many an email containing a generic introduction, explanation of a campaign and an attached press release and images. Do they get the message across? Yes. Are they engaging? No. Do they make the blogger receiving them feel that their contribution is valuable? Arguably.
Larger charities have press officers, PR people, fund-raising teams and social media experts. A note here about social media teams of charities – there seems, on the whole, a real lack of engagement on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and Google +. Charities should be sitting down and focusing on these now, gaining a following is easy – interacting and engaging people to make them passionate is not so. Generic automated emails from charities often go un-read – popping up in peoples timelines can be effective, people are more likely to share a social media update than an email.
I digress, back to value. Charities will do well to ensure that the bloggers who work for them feel valued. I have worked with charities who have – and who have not – done this effectively. For example, if a charity approaches a blogger to write a post in support of a campaign there should be a follow up email of thanks in the least. Once I received a card of thanks – that sort of thing sticks in peoples minds, helps to make them feel valued.
And it is a community, a huge one. Far better, in my opinion, to approach a few bloggers at a time and ask them who they recommend may like to get involved than to approach someone and let them know that x, y and z are also involved. It’s not about ‘keeping it with your mates’ as a blogger but a team of people who know, respect and understand each other will work far better together and likely produce better ideas than four strangers. Don’t assume that a parent bloggers, food bloggers, beauty bloggers and craft bloggers don’t move outside of their ‘genre’ – you’d be surprised!
As a charity if you have asked a blogger to write a post in support of a campaign then please share that post! Bloggers can have anything from 200 to 6,000 followers on Twitter (rough guide there) and a larger charity has tens of thousands of followers. Tweeting a link to the written blog post is a great way of thanking a blogger, promoting the campaign and generally being a good egg. It tells the blogger that you value and rate what they have taken time to write. Share across all your social media channels. Look at the bigger picture, it’s not just the blogger who wrote it seeing that you are sharing – it’s other bloggers too, it gives you a good reputation as a charity to work with.
A generic press pack and image get’s the message across but is it the most effective method of engaging people? I think not. Value comes into play here too – the best person to know what works on a blog is the blogger them-self. Everyone has different readerships, do not fall into the common trap of assuming that because someone is a parent and they blog that their readership are 23-45 year old mothers and fathers.
Every blogger knows what gets a positive reaction from their readership and it varies wildly. Photo posts, emotional posts, vlogs, factual posts, ranty posts, funny posts posts which call fellow bloggers to arms… so many options. Consider asking bloggers what approach they would like to take or make it clear that as long as they get the key points across that they can cover the campaign in the way that they feel is the most effective.
Work on creative campaigns, just by doing something ‘different’ you can catch peoples attention and imagination.
If you ask bloggers to events to help promote your up-coming campaign to them then offering travel expenses is highly recommended. Often held in London, these sort of events can cost upwards of £50 for a blogger to physically get to.
Just finished a campaign? Think it went really well? Give bloggers a chance to feedback their thoughts, what they felt worked well, what could have been handled better, suggestions and so on.
And finally I am going to go all renegade here, and I appreciate that this would be more for larger charities…
Consider a part-time salary for someone who is knowledgeable about blogging to consult with on how bloggers can support campaigns and even recommend bloggers who would be a great match for the campaign. At the moment most bloggers happily do this for free – but let’s look back to Value here. If you work with key bloggers as a charity already who have delivered creative or effective ideas and suggestions then you should be really considering looking at how to make them part of your team, if someone provides results for you for free because they are passionate about your charity imagine how much more they might put in for a wage. If you employ a social media expert you might like to start thinking of the rapid growth of the number of blogs and their influence sooner rather than later.
Controversial ending here – if you pay a social media expert for their time and knowledgeable opinions then why should you ask the same of a blogger for free?*
*not to be confused with paying for people to write
Over to you – what do you think – and what would you add to this?