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Blog Camp UK 2012

2012 April 25

On Saturday Roost Online attended #BlogCampUK, run by journalist and blogger Sally Whittle and the team behind the Tots100 – it was the first time BlogCamp ran over a full day.

Each of the sessions were inspirational with an informal and relaxed approach, offering constructive debate and practical advice for all parties.

Blog Camp UK

Photo courtesy of Tots100 & Sally Whittle

While the second part of the day was more focused on the relationship between blogger & Public Relations’ consultants (PRs), we chose to attend the whole day as the agenda looked to cover many aspects that affect blogging success, and we wanted to get the chance to chat to as many attendees as possible and put faces to some names we’ve been chatting to over the past 12 months. We felt this was as important as any discussions around ‘the relationship’.

The agenda for BlogCampUK included:

  • Basic and advanced SEO techniques led by Lee Smallwood
  • Tutorial on making video blogs using Windows Movie Maker
  • Taking great photos on a digital camera
  • Editing photos using free and simple online tools
  • Setting up your own self-hosted WordPress blog
  • How to be a snark (and get away with it) led by Stuart Heritage
  • Using your blog to develop e-courses and online workshops
  • Working with brands beyond advertising and sponsored posts
  • How to write reviews without selling out


Bloggers and their content

We have always looked at blogging from a word of mouth perspective with our clients in mind. Content needs to be created by people who are genuinely interested in the subject at hand – this is the value that clients want to see and the only way a true and valuable consumer/brand relationship can be developed.

In order for us to make sure that we match up brands/products/information opportunities with bloggers we need to first understand how they personally like to blog; What is it that excites them? Where are knowledge gaps (if any) and how they want us to approach them?  The nature of the day really gave us a great insight into many of these questions and the personalities behind many of the blogs we’ve come across (it was an anthropologist’s heaven).

It is important that we match these personalities with the brands that will appeal to them and also look to help bloggers with any digital understanding. After all, the better their content, the better the value exchange (the mutual understanding between a brand and the bloggers) for any brand – and the greater the experience for any readers.


The Roost – Blog Community

We set up The Roost (our blog community) to build relationships with bloggers.

Manned (womenned!) by Carli on a daily and nightly basis, The Roost is our way of showing commitment to the blogging community with which we work. It is our intention to make sure that we know the right bloggers before a brief comes in, this means that we can get to know what bloggers do and don’t have an interest in, and which brand opportunities might be a good fit.  It allows us to talk personally about bloggers in any client pitch, but it also means that we aren’t losing time once we win new clients building relevant relationships.

The Roost allows for a private space where we can further co-create projects ‘offline’. Who better to give advice about what your peers might want to hear than bloggers themselves…


Social Communications vs. PR

The final session of the day focused on the relationship between ‘PRs’ and bloggers – a constructive session where both sides were allowed to air their thoughts.

The panel delved into the much discussed ‘grey areas’ of blogger outreach by agencies and acknowledged that the industry has changed and adapted quickly in the past 10 years, aligning with the new media landscape.  Such have been the changes that sometimes the traditional infrastructure is yet to catch up with itself resulting in intermittent errors in judgement, and ‘opportunities’ pitched to bloggers in a way which can rile and sometimes infuriate.

The floor seemed surprised to hear the suggestion that agencies are open to being contacted directly by bloggers, with a view to offering their services as writers and consultants. Many agencies however are not well structured to work in this way and we’d love to hear more from bloggers as to whether you’ve found this approach fruitful in working with PR’s to deliver content you’re truly passionate about?

While much of the session focused on the issue of ‘nofollows’ and the transparency of the relationship (which I will be dedicating another post to) I want to finish off with my thoughts on the difference between a PR agency and the way in which Roost approaches this space.

It’s not our business model to receive a press release from a client which we then send out to a blogger hoping for it to be re-posted on their blog with links. For Roost Online this doesn’t constitute genuine word of mouth content.  Instead each and every client brief of ours needs to get all parties excited, and that requires buy in to the opportunity. The opportunity needs to represent value tailored to the individual’s blog, lifestyle and current interests. For us, a review post alone, based on pre-defined terms, no matter the subject, doesn’t meet the value potential the blogger’s insight, feedback and genuine word of mouth represents. From a syndication perspective, we absolutely appreciate the role of the PR to select relevant blogs and place articles but these placements don’t necessarily equate relationships.

A deeper, brand ambassador or advocate relationship built up over time, based on mutual understanding and benefits is of far greater value thus how we look to work with the blogging community.

For Roost, Social Communications is about forging these long term relationships between brands and bloggers. We like to work on three to six month campaigns where the value exchange is going to maintain the interest of all parties (this is not about paying for content!).

We are very much looking forward to the next Blog Camp, maybe next time we can even squeeze a seat on the panel!? @SallyWhittle…;)


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Here are some of the blogs from attendees – maybe this should be a who’s who of who was listening to the SEO session…

Purple Mum - Blog Camp UK – the good, the bad and the cake.

Not Even A Bag Sugar- return from Blogcamp

Stressy Mummy – Mummy went to blogcamp

D’log – Blocamp UK 2012 report

Mum on the brink – Blogcamp UK 2012 Birmingham – branding, photography, SEO, working with PR’s

Nelly’s Cupcakes – Blogcamp UK 2012

Angela This is life – Blog Camp UK

Mary Poppins – My Day at Blog Camp UK

Artiss – Blog Camp UK 2012

Rosie Scribble – BlogCamp UK – No scandal to report


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