More than two-thirds (69 percent) of businesses fail to grasp the importance of blogs and other new media, despite the fact that 95 percent of bloggers want to work with brands, according to the results of a new research paper, The Truth about Brands and Blogging, produced by Impact Communications Australia.

“Bloggers have become absolutely essential to those marketing their businesses,” says Impact director Allison Lee. “The world has changed. No longer is marketing about reaching the most people, it’s about reaching the most engaged. Now it is bloggers, with their strong community of dedicated readers, who drive customer’s purchasing decisions. It’s new-fashioned word of mouth.”

Lee points out that 51 percent of bloggers believe they are important to influence niche markets, while 25 percent believe they are as influential as the mainstream media. Yet the study show that 43 percent of companies fear that bloggers are risky and simply don’t know how to work with them. And bloggers know it; 56 per cent said marketing and PR professionals simply don’t understand blogging.

Lee believes that most businesses fail to recognise the highly personal nature of blogging. The study found 43 per cent of bloggers believe creating a unique and personal voice in their writing was the most important element of blogging, while 93 per cent of bloggers won’t write about products they have not experienced personally.

The Truth About Brands Blogging identifies the seven deadly sins of blogger outreach. They are:
1. Ignorance of the blog and its community of readers: “Put simply, don’t send a leg of lamb to a vegetarian blog! Know that you are talking to the right blogger and the right readers.”
2. Failure to build relationships: “Bloggers are different to the mainstream media. It’s not appropriate to fire off media releases scattergun. You need to be part of the community and have relationships with bloggers.”
3. Impersonal approaches: “Don’t even think about ‘Dear Blogger’ emails. Not only will this result in failure, it will burn relationships.”
4. Lack of respect for bloggers’ editorial integrity: “Free products will not result in blogger’s coverage so don’t demand or expect it. Treat bloggers with the same respect you would afford a professional journalist.”
5. Ignorance regarding bloggers’ juggle: “87 percent of bloggers blog as a hobby while they juggle jobs and families. Marketers need to be mindful of their time and not expect them to incur costs when writing about a product or service.”
6. Sycophantic behaviour: “Don’t fawn to cover the fact that you don’t know about the blog. Bloggers can see through insincere approaches.”
General ignorance about blogging: “Bloggers are a forgiving bunch and they understand that blogging is new to many companies. Try to understand the basics before picking up the phone.”