Blogger Outreach: Travel edition

Grace in Bangkok 2011

Just right after I wrote about blogger outreach a couple of days ago, this landed in my inbox:

“Hello. We’re looking for expat bloggers living in Dubai to blog about our airline client. Our client will fly the selected bloggers to a city in Asia and they will have to blog about their experiences.  Can you send us your blog analytics (showing subscribers and monthly traffic)?”

I’ve been contacted by a PR agency for their client (I won’t drop names), an airline company, who wants to send bloggers to a city in Asia for a blogger’s trip: free trip in exchange of posts, much like what I did when I worked with the Tourism Authority of Thailand in 2011 on a trip to Bangkok and Huahin and my recent trip to Istanbul, sponsored by Turkish Airlines.

You all know that travel and blogging (immersing in culture, taking photos and writing about those experiences) are two of my passions so I was ready to jump on this one but here’s what stopped me.

“Our client is very strict in the selection of bloggers and want the bloggers who have 100,000 followers (subscribers?) and high page view numbers per month.”

I wanted to laugh. What a perfect example of a flawed blogger outreach.

They really didn’t take their time to research, tsk. First of all, there isn’t a blog with 100,000 subscribers here in Dubai. I might be wrong and do correct me if I am or if that is your blog, please don’t throw a violent fit and leave a comment instead! I would like to see a stellar blog I might have missed

Second, as I have mentioned in my recent article about blogger outreach, bigger numbers are not always better. What if there exists a blog with high subscriber/page view count BUT in a very different niche? Maybe a blog with sky high traffic but not travel/lifestyle related ? Would they still consider it? 

This client obviously needs a blogger who writes about lifestyle and travel but is concentrating on looking for that high profile blogger regardless of what type of blog? Mind boggling.

Another very important point they have missed in their research (if they at all) is that high profile travel bloggers with those kind of numbers don’t go to blog trips for free. On top of the free accommodation, air tickets and food, most travel bloggers I know (based in the US at least) require a per day fee for their services. 

And rightly so.

Thailand bloggers trip 2011

A blogger’s trip/media trip/familiarization trip is hard work. The itinerary is almost always rushed and you’re whisked from one place to another. You have to keep up with documenting things: take photographs, listen to the guide despite heavy jet lag and take down notes. 

Then put everything together and blog about your experience, adding client links. Of course, don’t get me wrong, it’s fun and I enjoyed my trips to Thailand and Turkey but it is undeniably tough and exhausting.

All I’m trying to say is that I wish the client and the agency were realistic about this. Do a research, asking the following questions to themselves:

  • What audience do we want to reach out to?

Are you looking for moms who write about family travels, a businessman who reviews business hotels or amenities, or a blogger who blogs about group travel or solo travel? Be specific.

  • What value will we bring to the blogger and their readers?

Decide on what benefits you want to offer the (travel) bloggers and to their readers, and aim for a win-win partnership.

  • What do we want these bloggers to do for us?

Bloggers are receiving pitches from companies just like yours on a regular basis. So be transparent about what you are asking of them. Do you want them to stay at your property and review it? Attend an event in your destination? Or, try out your new spa services? Also, be specific of what type of social media coverage you’re seeking, such as Facebook mentions or live Tweeting at an event.

live tweeting in Istanbul

 ~ Bloggers live tweeting (updating social media channels) in Istanbul ~

But what really stumped me: the demand of high statistics

Not that that it is not important because it is but again, I can’t reiterate this more: bigger is not always better. A blogger who is in touch with his/her audience, has loyal followers are more likely to have more influence that those with a huge number of groupies. 

It’s not about the numbers, it’s about engagement.

So an equally important question would also be: which blogger is active/influential AND highly engaged with their followers in other social platforms other than his/her blog but also on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram? Look at the bigger picture and never underestimate the power of micro-blogging platforms!

*****

There has been a change as to how travelers plan their next vacation. Before, guide books were the primary source of information but these days, there’s a survey that travelers who do their research online, seeking tips and recommendations from websites, blogs and social media channels like Facebook and Twitter are increasing. 

And reaching out to bloggers can be a cost-effective tool {cheaper!} for marketing hotels online or marketing a destination – if implemented appropriately. 

Lastly, another peeve: I wish PR agencies don’t ask bloggers to do work for them.

“My client need a bigger reach and your blog doesn’t have enough followers yet. If you know any other bloggers who might be interested, please send us their details.”

If I don’t meet your criteria as your required blogger, fine – I  know that my blog isn’t all-powerful yet. But to then add insult to injury and expect me to pass the details of my blogger friends, to save you the time? Please go back to the basic, “do your research”.

*****

But, with all that said, I will make an exception because I know travel blogging is a new and hip gig that gets bloggers excited (free trip, baby!) and some of you reading this might be interested. I’m gonna do this just this once!

If you are a blogger based in Dubai and have the blog analytics I mentioned above and interested in working with an airline brand for a media/fam trip to a city in Asia for a few days and blog about it, please get in touch via comments so I can pass on your details to the PR agency! 

12 thoughts on “Blogger Outreach: Travel edition

  1. Well said, especially about demand for statistics as it’s mostly about engagement and how many people actually respond to what you post, share and so on. Do pass on my details as I’m curious to know what’s in store in regards to the trip!

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    • Thanks. I hope this gets read by the PR who contacted me or brands/businesses wanting to delve into tapping bloggers for their campaigns.

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  2. I just love how PR companies want you doing their work for them, how they belittle your research. So glad you’ve stood up and written about this. Live reading your posts, though I don’t comment (sorry). Keep being true to yourself!

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    • Hi Sarah! How are you?
      Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

      Glad you liked the post. I was a bit pissed when I wrote it so it kind of all flowed out, haha!
      I don’t know if the PR who contacted me will be reading this post but I hope they do! (And all the other PR’s in Dubai!)

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  3. Impossible. No one has that high a metric in terms of followers and hits per day. But if they are looking for bloggers who can write and talk the talk, please feel free to pass me on…(oh, shameless plug)…..

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  4. Ha ha! I got that one too a couple of weeks ago, while I was in Copenhagen. As a matter of fact, I responded in approximately the same manner as you did (i.e. do your research properly). Turned out that the airline in question is on the EU flight safety blacklist, so told them that no matter what, there’s no way I would be working with them:)

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  5. Very well said. The blogging industry is still relatively new, that trends keep changing, and PR companies also differ in beliefs (content / engagement vs Mass reach) . I guess for some, its easier to measure ROI in terms of views.
    Press visits are still business transactions that are mutually beneficial and PR/ Suppliers should see this as such. This is not a “free trip” because if it’s free- then there won’t be any photos / articles / updates of the trip.

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  6. Blogger outreach is such an important part of this process, it makes me sad to see that this company don’t seem to know what they are doing. I wonder if the airline is aware of the lacklustre job they are paying for?

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  7. Hi Grace,

    Greetings from a fellow Dubai blogger! I stumbled upon your blog by chance and love it!

    This is a great post, I’m happy to see how honest it is. You say it like it is.
    PR companies that blindly focus on the number of followers without considering engagement have completely lost the plot.
    Blogger outreach, if not done correctly, will result in a waste of resources rather than increase in value addition.

    Regards,
    Natasha

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