Blogger Relations Programs - Covad is on Board

Any one who blogs regularly in this space should have come across at least one blogger relations program by now, and I'm certainly seeing my share these days. In the right hands, they can be a really great tool. For the client, they can certainly be a direct, two-way dialog with users, customers, as well as key influencers.

As I've said before, it's a very Web 2.0 forum for market research, and I'm a big fan there. Just as importantly, though, these programs speak to the respectability the good bloggers are getting in their spheres of influence. It seems like everybody is a blogger these days, and we all want to share our opinions and voices.

Nothing wrong with that, but at the end of the day, since not many of us are getting paid for this, what really matters is recognition. Peer rec is wonderful, and please, folks - keep those comments coming. But even more important is recognition from the industry - the companies that actually make a living selling something, and they're looking to you to help them be more successful.

So, Covad has come the blogger trough, and I think that's great. They're a client of Andy Abramson, who may well be the foremost advocate of blogger relations programs in this space. He's the force behind the Nokia N Series blogger program, which is probably the template for these things, and I'm happy to say I've been involved with it from early on.

I'd like to say more about Covad's program, but I'll stay mum for two reasons, even though I've been briefed on it. First - I'm based in Canada, and since Covad isn't operating up here, I'm not eligible to participate - but I'm very glad to be on the periphery of what's going on. Secondly, Covad is currently a client, and I don't want to come across as being partial to a company I'm very much enjoying doing work for. That said, it's still a story worth telling, and I'm going to leave that to colleague Ken Camp. He's participating in this program, and posted all about it recently - so that's the place to go for the details.

Stepping back, though, I'd like to add that blogger relations programs are definitely catching on, and both companies and PR firms alike recognize the importance of reaching out to the right bloggers in their markets. With so many bloggers out there, the biggest challenge is finding the right bloggers, and that takes some work. Recently, I've been contacted by a number of PR firms going down this path, and it's clear that they don't really know who the right bloggers are, and they often don't know what sources to rely on to find them. Blogging is so new for many of these firms - and their clients - and they are typically very dependent on us bloggers for direction. It's very much about being an outsider and trying break through and find the inner circle. Not easy to do, and I'd say it takes a mix of intuition, persistence and a bit of luck.

This in fact, just happened to me on Friday. I was contacted by one of the Tier 1 industry analyst firms looking to do blogger outreach. It was nice to be considered in this mix for them, but I found it odd since I'm an analyst, and would view them as competition. I don't think they would see me that way since I'm just an indie, but when I wear the blogger hat, that may be all they really see in me. That's fine by me, as I see this more as validation that bloggers have value beyond what we say, and that's a trend I'm happy to support.

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