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What Your Public Relations Rep Isn’t Telling You About Bloggers

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Based on Angelsmith’s recent survey statistics we know that potential diners and restaurant influencers rely on bloggers more than traditional media, Yelp and television. But how do you know which blogs are likely to be most influential for your restaurant?

Answering the question of which bloggers are going to give your particular restaurant the best return on investment is not as easy as picking up the newspaper and looking at the food section. If you’ve had your share of questionable visits from bloggers, you’re not alone. Most brands have had similar experiences.

You were probably told they were “top bloggers” only to have them eat, drink and be merry and then you never hear a peep from them. Or they do write a glowing review, but you’re not sure if it drove any traffic into your restaurant.

While they may indeed be top bloggers for some category they just can’t move the needle for your restaurant because influence is highly contextual. Many public relations people don’t understand digital influence and restaurants end up wondering if blogger relations works at all. Bloggers need to be fully vetted in advance, not just mass emailed an invitation to come dine for free. To be blunt, that’s lazy and it’s a waste of money.

There are many ‘top blogger’ lists floating around the web, but instead of beginning with a pre-created list, start with your brand’s profile. If you bring in the wrong blogger, at best they won’t review your restaurant, at worst they write an article about what a horrible dining experience they had. Their opinion can sway hundreds if not thousands of potential diners. And we all know that negative reviews stick with a restaurant like mac ‘n’ cheese sticks to the ribs.

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Careful vetting of bloggers resulted in positive reviews and increased traffic for an ongoing blogger relations program at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. We diligently worked with the brand’s corporate communications and operations teams to develop a brand profile that would guide blogger recruitment efforts.

I recently had a public relations person tell me that she knew which bloggers are influential because she has her finger on the pulse of the industry, but in the same breath she couldn’t tell me who drives the most traffic into her client’s restaurant. When done correctly, blogger programs are trackable and we believe this should be the goal.

Instead of measuring influence by the number of followers or daily volume of retweets (easy metrics anyone can see), the correct evaluation includes a combination of data points. But the crown jewel of influence isn’t how many friends, fans, followers or how big their Klout score is, it’s how much traffic they send into your restaurant.

A recent blogger campaign we ran through Angelsmith’s WOM Accelerator for a restaurant clearly demonstrated this concept. The blogger with the smallest digital footprint but the best contextual match drove the most traffic. While this isn’t always the case, the moral of the story is that you can’t always tell who’s going to be influential just by looking on the outside, you need to dig deep, use social media tools to listen to digital conversations and be honest about who is the correct match for your restaurant.

We will follow up this article with a case study of when blogger outreach results in negative reviews and what to do about it. If you would like to learn more about our blogger campaigns, please contact bill[@]Angelsmith[dot]net.