From a PR perspective, better two-way communication and the need for industry guidelines were the two key points of discussion at Travel Bloggers Unite (TBU) in Umbria on 21 and 22 April. The largest TBU event to date with almost 200 delegates, led to more in-depth dialogue between PRs and bloggers than ever before, and Four bgb’s Debbie Hindle, Ruth Haffenden and Susannah Porsz were in the thick of the debate.
All full-time bloggers share a desire to monetise their blog, and a recent survey of more than 70 travel companies by Four bgb showed that most (92%) want to work with bloggers more in the future, as they can offer social media amplification, expertise and an independent voice to a campaign. This survey was not extensive, but it does demonstrate that the industry has developed greatly in the past two years, and the desire is there to work together. However, one look at the various forums and blogs that are discussing the relationship between PRs and travel bloggers at any one time shows that the path to working together is not always smooth.
Four bgb's MD Debbie Hindle emphasised the need for bloggers to provide a clear media pack, and to make it easily available online, and Dave and Deb of the Planet D made it clear to the industry delegates that companies should be clear about their expectations from any joint activity at the outset, whether it be a one-off sponsored trip or a long-term partnership. After all, if the expectations are clear on both sides, then can be no disappointments and the chance of developing a fruitful, long-term relationship is much higher.
Every discussion of expectations inevitably led to discussion of how to evaluate the success of any partnership, with media value firmly discredited by everyone. Bloggers and clients both have access to various analytics and tracking tools, and working together should be able to paint a clear picture of results that can then be compared with the original objectives. There will never be a one-size-fits-all approach to evaluation but case studies can help to guide bloggers and companies embarking on a partnership for the first time.
Four bgb has agreed to work with fellow TBU sponsors to define guidelines to evaluate the success of any campaign with bloggers. In the meantime, the wheels are already in motion to create a Professional Bloggers Network that will aim to offer guidelines and case studies to bloggers. We are looking forward to working together to ensure that bloggers find it easier to communicate with brands, and to ensure flourishing partnerships in the future.