So there we were. Sitting in the “community room” of the Central Market near downtown San Antonio. Eating lunch with strangers and friends. There’s wine at the end of the table, ready to be opened. And we’re being handed other neat free stuff. There’s even a photographer from the San Antonio Express-News.
Wow. So this is what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a pitch.
Yesterday, in San Antonio, we held the first of 100 geek dinners sparked by Hugh Macleod. There were seven of us – all communicators, several from PRSA. We’d been invited by Hugh as part of a blogger relations campaign introducing Stormhoek wine into the United States. A similar campaign in the UK doubled the company’s wine sales.
I found it very interesting to witness such a campaign first-hand. Hugh had extended an open invitation to bloggers to hold geek dinners. There was no requirement to taste the wine, to talk about the wine or to blog about it. Then he sent us a box of stuff: three bottles of Stormhoek wine to sample; a cute little booklet describing the campaign for each of us, and a limited edition print of his cartoon for each of us. There was also one copy of the print for us to sign and send back to be displayed at the winery. So the next time you’re in South Africa…
We passed around a tape recorder to capture part of our conversation about blogger relations campaigns like this. There are several benefits that come from an activity that is so relevant to your audience. The “geek dinner” with a soft pitch idea is clearly jives with the subculture of bloggers.
We also talked about the risk of such campaigns. Like, what if the product stinks? Some of the group criticized other blogger relations campaigns that had been executed poorly, like one that didn’t target well and sent sample products to bloggers in the UK where their service isn’t provided. One of the diners, Alan Weinkrantz, has already posted about the event (including a photo of him receiving the print; I thought he was going to climb over the table to get one!).
So through this experience, I saw that before kicking off a blogger relations campaign (just like any other type of campaign), it is vitally important that you do your homework first. Find out who the key bloggers are in your niche market and review case studies of similar campaigns so you can learn from their mistakes. This is especially true when you are treading on new ground for your organization. Hugh Macleod gives us a good lesson on how to do it right. (I’m sure it helped that this product tasted good.)
I offer my thanks to Hugh and Stormhoek for bringing me to my first “geek dinner.” And thanks to Kami for setting it up. After a while, we turned off the tape recorder and talked about what each of us is doing in the realm of new media. And the whole time, part of me was wondering, why did that photographer have to take a picture of me when I was taking a bite of my turkey sandwich?