August 2011 – Want some earned media? You’re soaking in it

Soaking in it (courtesy oc fernando at Flickr CC)What others often call “blogger outreach,” we like to call “finding your online champions” …. people who love your town as much as you do, but probably have no idea what goes on at a CVB, DMO,  Tourist Board or hotel/lodging organization.

See, the word “blogger” doesn’t always encompass all of the ways that people create and publish online content.

Too much focus on finding bloggers means that you are missing all sorts of people – including those right under your nose in your own town – who might support your destination or attraction in many other ways:

**  Facebook photos, videos, tags or status updates

**  YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, Ustream or Qik videos

**  SoundCloud, Audioboo or BlogTalkRadio audio and podcasts

**  Tweets, including video and photos posted on Twitter

**  Swarm or Facebook Places checkins and photos (including the ones that are shared on Twitter and Facebook)

**  Yelp or Google My Business reviews

**  Reviews (hopefully thumbs up) on StumbleUpon

**  Good old-fashioned forums, bulletin boards and email

**  Helping your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) by linking to your content

Read on for more ideas!


When Becky spoke at the Revitalize Washington conference about finding and connecting with online champions, the audience was made up of people from towns of all sizes. A quick survey of the room showed that they understood the power of online conversation to drive visits.

While they were thinking of ways to get more online mentions from strangers, however, many of them had overlooked the power of their existing champions. It turns out that all of them knew of people who either live in their town now, used to live there but are now scattered across the globe, or had family connections in town/were regular visitors like snowbirds, and on top of that were also active online.

A quick search of town names in directories like Twellow and Local Tweeps turned up powerful online publishers that the locals had not connected with (or maybe just not yet, but Becky thinks they headed straight over to do that right after her session.)

One of the most obvious places to look for your existing online champions?  Your website and blog comments, your Facebook comments, people who connect with you on Twitter, your YouTube channel subscribers and even your Flickr friends.

How about your existing email newsletter list? Many email service providers will go through your list data and tell you where your subscribers have social media accounts. MailChimp, for example, calls it Social Pro and will layer publicly available social network information onto your list.  Why not offer something special to your newsletter people who are also big Facebook-ers or photography enthusiasts on Flickr?

If you listen, your champions are out there talking. It’s your opportunity to listen and connect.


Worth remembering from the last time we talked extensively about online champions, in our Jan 2010 newsletter:

Let’s get one thing straight:  there can certainly be a mutually beneficial relationship here, but don’t view local bloggers as another broadcast funnel for your marketing (like buying a TV spot or newspaper advertorial blow-in.) Bloggers are not interested in being anyone’s mouthpiece …. and we say that as fiercely independent bloggers ourselves.

Notice that two of your three prospective outreach “local” subjects (the ones who used to live there, or who come back regularly because of family ties or the seasons) may not be located anywhere near you; they may be across the International Date Line or in an opposite hemisphere.

No, we haven’t forgotten how to read a map, but we know that the social Web lets you leap geographic boundaries. Your most effective online champions may live halfway across the globe, but if they have an Internet connection, it does not matter.

One more thing ….

Don’t just look for travel bloggers. We know it’s a tough habit to break from the old days of trying to get attention from travel magazines/newspaper sections and travel writers, but the Web is a lot bigger than that. You simply want people who love what you offer and know how to network and connect, and that includes food bloggers (maybe your equivalent of Austin’s Taco Journalism,) wired history buffs, crafting or quilting fanatics or fans of microbreweries.

PS Some of the best analysis we’ve read lately about blogger/brand relationships comes from the fashion industry. Take a look at this from Fashionably Marketing – How To Fix the Broken Relationships Between Bloggers and Brands. (Update: since the “How To Fix” blog post has now been removed, or moved and we can’t find it any more, try this insteadHow This Fashion Brand Found the Sweet Spot in Blogger Relations)


Want even more help plugging into the online publishing world?

An individual module from our online course, Lesson 4 – Building Your Online Champions Network discusses this topic in considerable detail.  Yes, we now offer our lessons for individual sale in addition to our full six-week course.


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