AP officially recognized blogs as credible news sources in September 2010, but people have trusted blogs a lot longer than that. In fact, due to an over-saturated, price-driven advertising market, blogs — and the recommendations and sharing of information through social media that come from them — are quickly becoming the most trustworthy form of “advertising”  (and I use that term loosely because blogs are more editorial than anything).
Adding a blogger outreach element to your marketing campaign is the best way to harness the power of your industry’s influential blogs, build brand awareness among the people who matter, and get some quality content links back to your website to drive your SEO campaign. Best of all, you have a definable way to measure your ROI.
Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas saw overwhelming success when they tapped into the prominent online influencers  in the entertainment, food and travel industries. They brought a handful of bloggers in each industry to their city to fully experience what their resorts could do, which resulted in 10 million plus impressions on blogs and social media.
Your efforts don’t have to break the bank if you’re willing to put in a little thought and time. But before you jump ahead, the first part to building any good blogger outreach campaign is sifting through the masses and finding exactly who you want to write about your business.
1. Find Your Blogs
No industry has a shortage of quality bloggers. Do a basic Google search of “[your industry] + blog,” and you’ll likely stumble upon pages of potential blogs your business could target. Alltop, PostRank, and blogrolls are other great resources to nail down the leading voices in your industry.
2. Get Creative
While there is something for everyone in the blogosphere, some sectors may require a little more finessing to find well-read blogs. Remember that it doesn’t always have to be a direct match with your industry. Step outside your comfort zone and think: “What other types of people would my business pertain to?”
If you work in food and restaurants, see what’s out in travel blogs — bonus if they focus on the area where your business is in. Work in daycare or with children? Parenting blogs are the obvious first choice, but seek out any kid-centric activities or destinations.
3. Are They Worth It?
Lots of blogs means lots of opportunities, but lots of blogs also means lots of bad eggs littering the mix. Weed through your initial list by getting only those that are worth your business. Actually read the blog to see if they’re a good fit. Make sure they’re posting (at least) weekly and that their content is getting actively shared through Facebook, Twitter, and social bookmarks.
Are people commenting on posts? Check out the bloggers themselves on social media: Do they have a good following they actively engage with? The more the blog participates in the conversation, instead of just starting the conversation, the more of a response you’ll see from their following.
4. Perfect Your Pitch
Once you’ve got your final list of blogs (I’d stick between 20-30 to start) don’t “Dear Abby” your pitch. Address the blogger by name. Mention something you like about their blog. Focus on why their readers will care and what they can expect to get out of it. If you actually read the blog you’re pitching to, your customization will come across real and not just out-of-the-box.
In the second part to this series, we’ll run through what to do once you have some interested parties, including what to expect, how to put your idea into action, and how to measure if it was successful.
Erin Everhart is the marketing associate for web design company 352 Media Group, a certified Microsoft Surface developer and leader in web marketing. She specializes in social media marketing, search engine optimization and content management, developing web marketing and blogger outreach campaigns. She’s a frequent blogger across multiple sites and holds a B.S. in journalism from the University of Florida. She has an unhealthy addiction to salt, EM dashes and the Gators. Follow her on Twitter: @erinever .