publication date: Nov 14, 2012
author/source: Janet Gadeski
When SickKids Foundation
as a special events director, they asked her to turn an under-appreciated
annual fundraiser, Scrubs in the City
into a high-impact signature event. Her marketing budget and Toronto's
competitive event scene ruled out heavy coverage in traditional media. But she
found a whole new platform online in the world of bloggers.
"Sometimes bloggers reach
more people than a reporter from traditional media," she observes.
seldom treated like journalists. Milne thinks that attitude is a mistake. Her
successful courting and engagement of bloggers who were right for her cause
reads almost like a handbook for engaging journalists from any other media.
She began by defining her
criteria. She wanted bloggers who were updating frequently - at least a few times a
week - and reached a fairly large audience. She wanted a focus on topics
relevant to SickKids' cause or the event itself: fashion, children's health,
parenting, or Toronto events. With those needs in mind, she worked Google and
database to find her targets.
"We didn't have a large
marketing budget, so the bloggers became a great opportunity for us," she
explains. "We looked at what the event was, and where we wanted to take it.
It's a fashion-forward event, so it's a great opportunity for mom bloggers and
fashion bloggers. We also wanted a target group with an interest in children's
Milne ended up with eight
positive, connected bloggers. "You need to know what types of things they write
about and who their audience is," she explains. "Once we had that, we could
reference some of their posts and ask for something similar."
She wasn't the first to reach
out to them for help in promoting an event. But she was the first to treat the
bloggers like serious reporters.
"We treated them like media,"
she continues. "They were [event] guests just like other journalists. We gave
them the same back-door access to key people that regular media had. One
immediately posted how fantastic the invitation was. That started the conversation
Milne offered other
incentives too, creating win-wins that built the bloggers' own readership as
well as boosting coverage of her event. She offered tickets to be given away on
the blogs in exchange for promotion. She encouraged them to take photos and
arranged interviews with high-profile volunteers and celebrities involved in
"The bloggers were
enthusiastic," she recalls. "We've created an audience that will work with us
again. One even toured the hospital. Later he won $3,000 in an unrelated contest
and he donated it to us!"
After thanking each blogger
with a personal acknowledgement, Milne is staying in touch with them. She
continues to read their blogs and comment on their posts. She's also feeding
them firsthand news about Scrubs in the
City 2013. And she plans to invite them again.
"It's an online age. Look
beyond traditional media," she urges. "You have no idea who might be reading
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