Although blogging and other social media gained credibility with PR practitioners during 2006 there is still a clear need for supporters to produce compelling case studies.
Our Delivering the New PR conferences inspired a great deal of debate and constant emails show that people went back to work full of new ideas, but I suspect many found the hard bit was putting those ideas into practice.
And it is a challenge. Edinburgh delegate Jenny Glumoff works for VisitScotland, part of the team responsible for promoting adventure holidays - short breaks that exploit Scotland's potential as a fabulous destination for anything from mountain biking, kayaking, mountain walking, ice climbing, canyoning and gorge walking, skiing and snow boarding, ski mountaineering and white water rafting. Specifically she wants to promote an Adventure Passport which offers discounts on a range of different activities in the Lochaber and Fort William area.
It sounds like fertile ground for a social media campaign so I am asking PR bloggers to put forward ideas, and suggest strategies and tactics in a way that will establish an example of good practice that might be applicable to many other organisations.
Jenny's idea was to invite bloggers to come and try the various activities, being careful to be open and transparent about the pitches and follow up processes, and see how the messages - good or bad - travelled around the blogosphere.
She is also setting up an Adventure Passport blog which as well as being a focus for publicity activities, will provide a regular update on new activities. Luckily Jenny is keen on adventure sports herself, and many of the posts will tell of her own experiences as she roadtests Scottish attractions. If she can find the right voice, content and pictures shouldn't be a problem...
So is inviting bloggers a good idea? Assuming they are approached in the right way - and they enjoy their stay! - this seems a sound strategy to me (though it is interesting to reflect on the many differences bewteen managing these visits and a usual press facility trip).
The challenge is deciding who to invite. Jenny is looking for committed adventurers, ideally from the south of England, to try sea kayaking, mountain biking, mountain walking and climbing, ice climbing and extreme sports.
Sea kayaking is a narrow field and there don't seem to be many dedicated blogs out there; it is easy to find hundreds of bloggers who enjoy mountain biking, but they are either commercial (connected to magazine etc) or highly individual. The PR blogging community, for example, has quite a few conversational 'hubs', fairly high profile bloggers with a significant readership to whom less established bloggers look to for new ideas which they then take up and comment on. So far I have found it hard to identify adventure sport bloggers who have this sort of following - if anyone has any suggestions on how to find them, please let me know.
Another idea would be to identify a couple of high traffic general interest bloggers who might like the idea of a trip to Scotland.... Again, any ideas on who to approach, or more importantly, how to identify a useful shortlist would be appreciated. You never know, Jenny might even invite a PR blogger to visit Scotland a weekend.... (and, yes, the photo shows my bike enjoying a trip to Scotland).
I am going to be advising Jenny and watching the way the social media campaign works as part of an academic case study that will hopefully prove of value to a wide range of participants. Anyone who would like to contribute will be fully credited.
Over to you....