If you’ve ever worked in the field of blogger outreach, you know how hard it is to answer the inevitable question that people ask you after you tell them your job title - “so what it is exactly that you do?” Seems easy enough, right? Not exactly. As soon as I’m asked that, a ton of questions pop into my own head: “Okay, how should I explain what I do to this person? Do they know what SEO is? Do they know what content marketing is?” I usually end up giving them a very vague description, telling them that I simply do online PR. Short, sweet and to-the-point. Most of the time, people just acknowledge my answer and talk about something else. Only a few rare instances do people have questions, then it gets complicated again. This is when I quickly change the subject. Some things, like the discussion of blogger outreach tasks, are just not cocktail party conversation.
Everyone within the outreach department here at Distilled has experienced the difficulty of trying to explain what we do to other people, especially to others outside of the Internet marketing world. As our very own Rob Toledo can tell you, parents are (most of the time) outsiders to our language of phrases like SERPS and canonicalization. Here I will explain the common misconceptions related to the obscure profession of blogger outreach. Hopefully I’ll debunk any rumors that are floating around about what it is that us Blogger Outreach Specialists do, as well as provide you with a better understanding of the importance of our roles.What My Friends Think I Do: Read BuzzFeed, Troll Reddit, Tweet, Repeat.
Personally, I never really thought about what it is that my friends think I do here at Distilled. After asking around, I’ve concluded two things: 1.) they think I get to troll the Internet all day searching for funny Tumblrs, memes and awesome pins on Pinterest 2.) they are extremely jealous.
With this job comes the privilege of being one of the first people to know about a popular Internet meme, YouTube video, new app or online game. When a friend brings up something trending within one of these categories, odds are that a Blogger Outreach Specialist already knows about it. For this reason, our friends believe that we spend a majority of our day online playing Angry Birds or trolling Reddit and BuzzFeed.
To our friends, the Internet is a never-ending source of fun and time-wasting activities. Well, I have news for our offline buds, just because we were the first to know about the ‘breading’ cats meme doesn’t mean that Blogger Outreach Specialists slack off and have fun online all day, it is just our jobs to know what is hot on the Web (one of the many perks you could say).
When you’re in this field, you’ll learn that as you try to explain your job to someone they will lose interest quickly when you start mentioning common marketing terms that they aren’t used to hearing (even words like the overly-abused ‘infographic’). Fun fact, it wasn’t until the onset of Pinterest until many my friends actually could grasp and recognize what an infographic was (took them long enough).
While I don’t normally fight this misconception (how cool is it to think that your friends actually believes you get paid to watch YouTube videos?), I do try and explain to them that I have actual tasks that don’t involve the “fluffy stuff” found on the Internet.
But, for some reason, once I do explain what I do they still manage to bring up how it seems like I have more fun at work than a normal person should have. All of the amazing SearchLove conferences and the fact that we have beer o’clock probably leaves them with that impression, too….
What My Parents Think I Do: Send Press Releases & Skim Pinterest (because that’s what you do with an Internet connection, right?!)
Many of the PR tactics that companies use today were nonexistent ten years ago, so it is no wonder that most of our parents imagine us making many phone calls and press releases in our day-to-day tasks. When I explain to my parents that we use casual email and social media to reach out to people, it is hard for them to grasp. “Wouldn’t you rather make a simple phone call?” is the response I always hear from my father.
My mother, on the other hand, chooses the approach of “no questions asked” and, as long as I’m making a steady income, she does not question the technicalities of my job. It is probably best that way because I feel like she also tends to believe that I troll Pinterest all day. When I chat with her about how her day went, she’ll always rant about a new DIY experiment that she came across on Pinterest earlier that day and will expect me to have already seen it.
Note to mothers everywhere: just because we were the first to tell you about Pinterest, it doesn’t mean that we are on it all day. In fact, we rarely get to enjoy the simple pleasures of the Internet because we are too busy studying them.
What My Clients Think I Do: Perform Magic Tricks
At first, many clients come to us with one goal in mind: links. I sometimes think that they believe we are the magicians of the whole content creation process. Don’t get me wrong, more times than not, we do deliver placements on highly-trafficked sites, but it isn’t as easy as it looks.
We are often approached by clients who think we can place practically any piece of content. For example, many automatically assume that we can take something like an infographic on the evolution of broccoli and get it placed on The New York Times. Might be a struggle.
Like all good magicians, we have a few tricks up our sleeves. However, in reality, our jobs are a lot more strategic than mythical.
What I Really Do: Build Long-Term, Collaborative Relationships
A typical day in the life of a Blogger Outreach Specialist, while it may include a few funny YouTube videos and philosoraptor memes every now and then, is much more structured than one might expect.
Gone are the days of press releases and cold calls, online PR has now transformed into something more meaningful. Due to the thousands of emails bloggers and online influencers receive each day, we now need to work hard to make our emails personable and valuable in order to stand out from the clutter.
We spend about sixty percent of our work day collaborating with bloggers to discover what content they enjoy the most and learn what it is that they would like to see us create. Our mission, at the end of the day, is to build relationships with these influencers of the web and collaborate with them to disperse content that will catch the attention and provide value to their audience. These relationships that we form are the foundation of what makes our content so share-worthy, not the supernatural powers that I mentioned earlier.
Yes, in order to craft content that has the potential to be widely shared, we must be aware of hot topics that are floating around. Therefore, the other forty percent of our day is spent studying the Internet, crafting ideas for content, and trying to come up with the next viral sensation.
The main goal of our efforts is to build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with bloggers and publishers. In order to do this, we must keep up with trending topics, as well as read and engage with the content that is being shared online.
At the end of the day, the question remains: how does one who practices blogger outreach explain their career to a friend? Simple. You are a crusader of online PR who is breaking the archetypal stereotype of one who sends endless amount of press releases and sometimes engages in spammy email marketing tactics, and counteracting that with meaningful conversations and collaborative intentions.
Do you practice blogger outreach? How do you explain your career to non-technical friends? Sound off in the comments below!