In discussing why garden bloggers are important, I mentioned reasons why advertisers and PR firms need to work with garden bloggers. I also promised to provide some ideas of where to find garden bloggers to work with. First, though, I want to characterize garden bloggers and give some ideas on how to approach us and how not to approach us.
Garden blogger characteristics. Garden bloggers tend to be “show me” people. We read, watch the seasons, try new techniques and record the results, and generally investigate everything before we commit to it. That means we do not generally recommend something until we try it. For seeds and plants, that means we want to plant them and see them live a reasonable amount of time before we review them. Nothing is worse than seeds that do not germinate or plants that die two or three days after planting.
Other considerations. Gardeners generally fall into one of two camps: organic or not so organic. Make very certain that anything you offer a person who practices organic gardening fits that philosophy or you will be pilloried in their blog. It is also important to match the blogger with a product that fits their niche. A vegetable gardening blogger such as myself does not review lawn products. A flower gardener probably doesn’t do vegetable seed reviews.
Care and feeding of reviewers. If you want a product reviewed, expect to send one of the product to the blogger. I will not review a product based on your product literature. I want to plant it, use it, see it, and try it first. No, you do not get it back. If you cannot afford to give me one of them to keep, you need to do another kind of advertising campaign.
Give aways. As an example of another kind of campaign, Kubota tractors did a PR campaign on tractor safety. I posted on that, and gave away a cooler and some other goodies for them as part of that. They sent me a duffle bag with a few goodies in it as a thank you. I would have preferred the tractor, but that wasn’t within their budget. They still got publicity, however. Now, one thing to stress about give aways. Do not send me the prize to mail to the winner. That gets expensive. I will send you the name and address and you send the prize directly to the winner. Most bloggers have similar policies.
Finding garden bloggers. There are several good ways to find garden bloggers. The Garden Writers Association has a list of the garden blogs maintained by members. It is searchable by name and state so you can find someone near your location easily. The same link will let you find a writer, photographer, or speaker.
Another resource is Blotanical. It is a gardening community that has blogs, forums, and other features. Membership is free. DiginDirt.com is another community of garden blogs. There are probably others, but this will get you started.
Approaching the garden blogger. Because garden bloggers have been ignored by advertisers and PR firms up until now, you will have to spell out what it is you want when you approach us. Many garden bloggers do not take advertisements or do reviews. They may be in jobs that forbid that, such as academic or extension jobs, or they may just not be interested. It has never occurred to others that this was possible. So you may get some refusals that have nothing to do with approaching someone in the wrong niche. Make sure expectations are spelled out in an email, and spell out what you will do as well. The advertising community has some educating to do here.
I hope these two articles have been helpful. If there is something I missed, or you want clarification of something, feel free to email me at [email protected]. My website is http://stephaniesuesansmith.com. I have a tab on my website that explains my PR policies. If you have suggestions for additions or changes, please let me know.