Two observations bracketing my day today:
Bloggers as Moochers
This morning on Twitter, I noted (tweeting as @TourismCurrents) a press trip announcement for Southern city B&Bs that wants writers with letters of assignment from print publications with “minimum annual circulation of 100,000.” I thought it was interesting that there was no mention of an online publication as an alternative, with X number of unique visitors per month, X number of email subscribers or some other metric for reach.
I thought this exclusion was short-sighted, and said so.
The response from @gran_tourismo (Lara Dunston and Terence Carter, currently on a long-term worldwide trip sponsored by HomeAway vacation rentals) was that many hoteliers….
“….say they get burned frequently by bloggers who don’t produce goods….Most bloggers can’t demonstrate reach of a [blog] post.” [as compared to the reach of print coverage.]
So, not a great reputation for bloggers out there in the hospitality world that Lara and Terence have seen so far.
Anecdotal, to be sure, but there it is.
Bloggers as Desirable
This evening – also on Twitter – I notice an initiative by @VisitLanai (the Hawaiian island of Lanai’s Visitor Bureau) for a “New Media Artist-in-Residence” program to bring online publishers across the Pacific to experience the island. First up is my friend Shannon Hurst Lane of the Traveling Mamas. Follow the #VisitLanai hashtag for more.
Now, not 10 minutes after I tweeted about that, a DM (Direct Message – private message on Twitter) popped up on my dashboard from a friend asking me how to get in on the New Media Artist-in-Residence program. 🙂
Here’s the question – while I certainly have my reservations about press trips and fam tours – the fact is that while they ARE work, they are also pretty darned cool when they’re in a cool place (and yo, Hawaii is pretty fab.)
Given the blogger-as-moocher reputation issues raised by Lara and Terence above, who is going to get invites to top-tier places like Hawaii?
I do know this – the Hawaii tourism people know exactly what they have to offer with their beautiful islands, and they will be picky, picky about who they select for invitations to their new media program. Online publishers who want to go will have to show that they will (unlike what the hotel people complain about) “deliver the goods” and that their online publishing has reach and impact.
If you’re a CVB, DMO or Tourist Board, you’d better know how to evaluate bloggers and their work online. There are metrics and they can drill down pretty far – further than a lot of specious print circ numbers – but you need to know what you’re looking at with analytics. Do not just invite a blogger to say you invited a blogger, and think you’re now all social media-y and hip.
If you’re a blogger and you want to go on these trips, you’d better be able to pony up some numbers/analytics info about your online presence, and you’d better be ready to say exactly what you plan to “deliver” to your hosts. PR guy Peter Shankman addressed this tangentially in this post: Want to get sponsored? You’d better be sponsorable.
I like days that show me two perspectives on online media within 12 hours!
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I’m calling bluff on the “can’t demonstrate reach” comment.
You may have ABC thousand subscriptions to your magazine, but you don’t know how many people opened it and read it.
A blog can tell you exactly how many people read it, how long they read it, and how many of them clicked through to the hotel website to learn more. (And on my blog, our travel services are integrated – so I can tell you how many of them booked a room!)
Can’t demonstrate reach = not trying hard enough.
Now, Andy, notice that I didn’t say that reach couldn’t be shown….I said that many couldn’t do it.
I was trying to be polite, rather than adding the phrase screaming in my mind…”Bloggers need to get their analytics BLEEP together!!” Because you know me….always polite and circumspect. 🙂
It IS crap. Those bloggers who hornswoggle hotel people….and those hotel people who allow themselves to be hornswoggled….well, everyone gets what they deserve.
Reach can also be substantiated with social media. From FourSquare/GoWalla to Twitter to Facebook, etc., those are additional influence factors that a blogger can bring to the table.
It’s also important to remember that reach isn’t about “reaching” the highest number of readers, it’s about getting to the right (qualified) readers. (Qualified defined by the destination.) So comparing “mine is bigger than yours” may do a disservice to everyone.
And like Andy above, I’m integrating booking services into my sites.
With bloggers, you often just get more.
Did you catch this post on Travel Writers Exchange? How to Get Invited on Press Trips:
It’s worth a read because it teaches bloggers how to position themselves as valuable to the host. It’s good advice, but I took issue with what I felt was a tremendous oversight — WHY do you want to be on a press trip in the first place? It’s entirely possible, in fact, likely, that the bloggers who are most attractive to the hosts are NOT the bloggers who are going to produce the best material for READERS. So there’s a third tier to this question, I think. Are hosts willing to take risks on getting less than perfectly shiny stories as a result, with the idea being that they’re going to get their destination in front of readers who really trust the story teller?
You’re more tapped into this than I am, but I think there are some hosts who are bothering to look at how engaged the writers they invite on their trips are with their audience. I’d imagine there’s some payback in that, too.
Would agree with Lara’s point on bloggers sometimes not delivering the goods – both from first hand experience and secondhand watercooler talk.
While it may be true as Andy says that “you don’t know how many people opened it and read it”, I’m yet to have an experience with a magazine that has promised one thing and then not delivered at all.
Yes bloggers need to get a handle on their analytics – they also need to figure out which are most important to push. Perhaps straight traffic to a DMO looking for branding, email subscribers to a property wanting to push a deal, Twitter/Crackbook following to a tourist board looking for a legup.
They also need to be honest and not missrepresent what they can deliver – nobody wins long term in that game and the whole blogging segment gets tarred with the same brush.
Hi Mary Jo,
Yes, I think that is one of our biggest blogger advantages. I can write a package of material that includes a blog post, Flickr photos, video on YouTube, Facebook Wall posts, tweets and check-ins on Foursquare and Gowalla.
Challenge: so many people have no idea what I’m talking about with about half that stuff. Sigh. A teaching opportunity….
Well, you know me….NOT a press trip junkie by any means, but I do try to maintain an even keel about them. Good point and one that I agree with….many who are busy as hell producing quality work may be totally disinterested in the press trip model. They may also be the bloggers with the most impact, who suck up the least, need your press trips the least and are the ones you want the MOST for their reach and influence. It’s a tough call.
Both perspectives are actually quite valid. That most bloggers probably DON’T have a tracking / analytics system in place only serves to highlight the ones that do. My travel blog (chrisinsouthkorea.com) has a page dedicated to showing some numbers (need to update those soon) and Google Analytics.
If you want to ‘reach’ millions, go buy a newspaper ad or fancy magazine ad. Pay thousands of dollars for something you can’t quantify (outside of that specious count already mentioned) and isn’t targeted in any way.
If you want to ‘connect’ with interested, self-selected, and potential customers, come talk to bloggers. We’re niche, and we like it that way.
Hoteliers, CVBs and others getting burned by writers “not delivering the goods” is not a new issue. I used to hear this same argument said about freelance writers on a trip. On my last trip, I heard about a high-level editor who was now on a blacklist because the person felt they had been used. With bloggers, it’s new players but same problems.
The bottom line: Bloggers, don’t accept a press trip if you aren’t prepared with analytics and story ideas for your readers. PR people, don’t offer a press trip if you aren’t familiar with the writer, their outlets and their reach (social, old school or other).
I was just on a press trip (with plenty of antics, as per usual), and one of the other attendees was an editor of a fairly high circ LA magazine. He had a whale of a tail about a PR company that actually didn’t deliver on their promises. At the end of it, he promised the PR company “he wouldn’t write about this” it was so bad.
So, I’m with Chris: just because it’s online, folks, doesn’t mean we can slack. Let’s do our job.
Now I’m off to figure out what hornswoggle means….
“Most bloggers can’t demonstrate the reach of a blog post”
What BS – bloggers have the ability to report on pvs or clicks from the blog (to the CVB/hotel site) for every piece they write! This is so much more scientific than the general “circulation” for print magazines. If anything, online reporting can be WAY more detailed.
I can measure Tweets and RTs – PR can easily learn the number of my followers and Facebook fans. I happily share site monthly page views and uniques. I’d be happy to tell PR peeps how many times I’ve recommended their hotel/resort/city to friends (or readers online). To me, “reach” is so much more transparent online.