Building a strong media list: A handy checklist for evaluating bloggers
Do you pitch bloggers as part of your media relations efforts?
The world of journalism has changed and bloggers can sometimes be just as, if not more, influential than traditional media outlets. But finding the right journalists to pitch isn’t always easy. A little bit of research can go a long way in finding extremely good writers by sifting through the massive information that floods the internet on a daily basis.
Here’s a handy checklist for how to decide which bloggers to add to your media list:
A trustworthy blogger is one who produces quality content on a consistent basis. Fortunately, solid content is generally somewhat easy to spot. Consider these different areas of quality in your evaluations of bloggers to add to your media list.
- Writing: Good content has proper spelling, grammar and a clear and authentic voice. This is very easy to pick up on as bad grammar and spelling should be evident within the first paragraph or two of a blog post. Bad writing skills repel readers, so naturally you wouldn’t want them to write about your company or client.
- Design: The design of a blog is important. Readers tend to stick around longer on blogs and websites that are pleasing to look at and easy on the eye. Colors should match, posts should be easy to read and there should be specific calls to action throughout the site. It’s a given in today’s society that the site should also work on mobile devices as well. Many consumers read articles on their smartphone, so making a site mobile-friendly is extremely important.
- Sources: If the blogger is making some strong claims, it's crucial that they support that information with trustworthy sources. Not every source is trustworthy, and if the blogger shows signs of gullibility within their posts you should surely be skeptical. This isn’t so obvious sometimes as certain facts will always seem true or you may not bother to look into the writer’s source list. Be sure to check their links to see who they trust online.
- Consistency: Post frequency is a hotly-debated topic, but in general, when picking bloggers to add to your media list, consistency is important. In my opinion, quality bloggers share something a couple times a week. Take a quick glance at their blog and see when their last post was published. The more updated the blog is, the easier it is to have a following. For example, CNF Exchange has a blog that is alway up-to-date and current. (Full disclosure: I work at CNF Exchange). Consistency draws an audience, so this blog has become a staple among those looking for financial information.
Now that you have your eyes trained to find and seek out quality content, the next step is to look at how social a blogger is online. Bloggers who are social media savvy and engage with their readers usually have some kind of following, which may mean your company or client’s content might be perfect for their target group. Several different factors can determine the popularity of a blogger.
- Twitter: The amount of Twitter followers a blogger has is a very good indication of how quickly their blog and audience has grown. Twitter is a very useful tool, but be sure to check out HOW the blogger uses the social network to engage. Watch out for tweets that have the same text with a different link in every single thing they share. This is an automated tweet and most likely means the blogger isn’t engaging with their readers.
- Google+: Another form of social media to check is the blogger’s individual Google+ account. As Google continues to rule when it comes to SEO, Google+ is becoming more and more important. Bloggers should have a completely filled-out Google+ profile, list all of the sites they have written for (if Google Authorship is set up) and consistently post to the site.
- Klout: A slightly more controversial way to determine a blogger’s quality is to check out their score on Klout. A Klout score reflects how active and influential an individual is online. If they are a major influencer of the masses, they will have a higher Klout score. This is another indication that they are a popular and reputable source.
- Search: Lastly, do a quick keyword search for some of the main topic areas of their blog. If they show up on the first page of Google for competitive keywords and topics they most likely know what they are doing as a blogger. If they are the #1 result on Google, go ahead and add them to your media list since that is extremely difficult to do unless you are an experienced quality blogger.
These certainly aren’t the only ways to evaluate if a blogger is worth adding to your media list, but it’s a solid place to start. Keep in mind that there are always exceptions to the rules; the key here is to become a regular reader of the blogs you are considering pitching to determine if they are a strong fit for your company or client.
What are some other ways that you evaluate if a blogger is worth adding to your media list? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Dan Shaffer is an inbound marketer for CNF Exchange who likes to write about blogging, finance, and marketing. He enjoys the ever so changing field of online journalism and likes to play soccer in his free time. Find him on Twitter or Google+
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