How to find travel bloggers: tourism outreach online

Binoculars for blogger search (courtesy Pingu1963 on Flickr CC)Many tourism organizations have asked me lately how they can find bloggers (and others active in social media) who might be interested in covering their destinations.   I thought it would be helpful to write up a quick reference list.

First, thanks for asking, because blogger outreach is one of the main topics that Becky McCray and I plan to cover when we launch our Tourism Currents social media learning community for tourism professionals in September 2009.  If you want to be kept informed about it, there’s an email signup when you click the Tourism Currents link.

Secondly, Becky has already started a new series on her Small Biz Survival blog called Tourism Tuesdays.  For example, here is her dynamite post Never Been There, about incorporating local folks into your tourism outreach campaigns.  I read Becky’s work because she always finds the nuggets that others might not think about or notice.

Want more? Go to the Twitter Search Engine and type in #tourismtuesday to see general tourism chatter (this is called a hashtag and groups together all tweets with the same hashtag marker.)  If you want to see general travel tweets instead, try #travel, #traveltuesday or #TT.

Finally, here’s my quick-and-dirty list of other ways to sift around online to find bloggers and the social media-savvy amongst us:

Hope that helps to get you started, and if I missed any resources, please note them in the comments below. Thanks!

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10 Responses to How to find travel bloggers: tourism outreach online

  1. pam says:

    While I think these lists are great aggregation, I’d also be curious to hear about other indicators that you think CVB/tourism agents should use in vetting those bloggers once they’ve been located.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Hi Pam,

      Good question! Obviously some version of my answer should become another blog post here and/or part of the Tourism Currents material. 🙂

      I’d do a quick review of a few of the most recent posts, then poke through the categories/archives just a bit, to get a feel for writing style, topics the blogger covers, how they organize their thoughts and most importantly, whether there’s good engagement with readers in the comments. A lively community around the blog, big or small, is important. I mostly want to see good writing, positive interaction with readers, some use of photos/video/audio would be a plus, and fairly consistent posting (can be 5X a week or once a week, just consistent.)

      I have a Google toolbar installed that gives me the site’s Google Page Rank, which is good to know but not necessarily an indicator of whether it’s a “quality blog.” Technorati “authority” is another data point, but that site’s been shaky lately so I don’t give that mark too much credence. I have an Alexa toolbar installed but never look at the results because I don’t think they’re accurate. Then I could run it through HubSpot’s Website Grader for even more stats.

      Then I’d maybe Google the author’s name and see what else they’re doing on the Web. Does he/she have photos on Flickr? Video on YouTube or another video channel? How do they interact on Twitter? Do they have a professional LinkedIn profile? A Web site that showcases some of their other sites or interests?

      The blessing of the Web is that you can pretty easily access a ton of info about a writer/blogger before you engage with them about your destination; that isn’t as easy in the print world and it’s a major advantage of reaching out to bloggers.

  2. @toddlucier says:

    Hey Sheila,
    Tourism Currents sounds like something that dmo’s / cvb’s and other tourism orgs could use. I really like the simple tools provided by Twitter search. For instance we keep note of search terms related to our tourism region, packages and the like and see who is visiting our region that’s connected.
    Inviting some of these folks to post stories can be perceived as flattering and result in posts from travelers as bloggers. (I was recently asked to blog about my experiences on Greenland for instance)

    I also really like HARO. http://helpareporter.com is a great way for tourism organizations to see what stories writers are working on and leverage such inquires into stories both online and off.

    I also had a great convo with Darren last year at http://travelrants.com which (at least in part) led to the creation of a new travel blog about Leeds that intends to get the local flavour onto the Web.

    Indeed it’s not too late for CVB’s and DMO’s to get into the social web, great strides can be made quickly.

    Please keep me posted about your upcoming project. Sounds delightful.

    • Hi Todd, I have thought of you and your excellent blog SO often as Becky and I have worked on Tourism Currents; perhaps we can partner on a future project!

      Thanks for the HARO tip (I use it, too) and for highlighting Darren’s new Leeds Web site, which I think is a great idea and a natural for his talents and connections….because, you know that the Web is made for the tourism Little Guy. 🙂

  3. Twitter is a great tool for finding conversation about travel topics. Travel organizations who actively follow and engage in two-way conversations with bloggers who cover their area are especially valuable as resources for travelbloggers.
    The folks at @explorechicago were especially helpful when I planned my recent trip to that city for the BlogHer and TBEX conferences. They suggested places to stay (when I had to move from the convention hotel for a few post-conference days) and things to do, based on my specific interests. The result? I’ll be posting a lot of Chicago stories at Midwest Guest over the following months.
    I’ve also had nice experiences working with the folks at the Arab American National Museum (AAMN) near Detroit and the fellow who tweeted for a suburban Detroit (Greek) OpaFest this summer.
    In particular, we were allowed to shoot photos at the Concert of Colors because of an ongoing relationship with the AAMN folks (resulting in several stories at Midwest Guest, The Wandering Photographer and The Urbane Life). I’ve also done stories about the museum for my blog, Midwest Guest, and The Urbane Life, where I am a staff blogger.

    • Thanks Dominique!

      It’s funny how my own personal “search engine” has changed – I used to look for good blogs written by people who are on Twitter, and now I tend to get to a blog and look immediately to see if they have a Twitter stream. Both serve a purpose.

  4. Robert Payne says:

    These are all great suggestions, and I would certainly agree that style, frequency, page rank, and social media participation are important. But there are several other key factors including, understanding the keyword terms that visitors are searching for when researching a destination, tone, perceived value, imagery, and engagement.

    I’ve been blogging a long time, and you may or may not be able to determine that from my personal blog because I do much of my activities for other businesses, but I still try to keep it up when I can because, well, it’s a hobby. If you Google “sea kayaking tampa” – “high sierra ski tour” – “backpacking the napali coast” – “salt water charters charleston” or “cruising costa rica” I think you’ll see that I know what I am talking about. You’ll also see that I am in no way trying to monetize traffic. It is primarily a fun testing ground for self-expression where I am free to experiment and learn.

    Assuming you have a site that is well indexed because you have systematically engaged in link building across numerous other sites and social media profiles – time being another big factor – then your post should immediately get ranked. However, if it isn’t well constructed (and there are many factors here to consider including subject line, quality of content, imagery, h2, h3, etc, etc), and it doesn’t receive engagement (visitation, referral links, comments) then it will die a quick death. As a side note: comments are very helpful but they aren’t as important as most people think; in fact, most travelers are reluctant to comment even though they found great value in the blog post.

    There are several other tricks one can pursue right out of the gate to further engagement so that you solidify your relevance early and keep it. Furthermore, there are some fundamental components to the construction of your blog that make a significant difference. But that will have to be for another time! Great post Sheila and happy blogging!

    • Hi Robert,

      Thanks for your long and thoughtful comment. My proposed benchmarks for judging a blog are very much “rules of thumb” for a busy tourism PR or marketing person to rapidly evaluate a possible blog of interest. Ranking is certainly an inexact science and some blogs rank really well for certain keywords and not others. Google PageRank is a broad brush, but it’s a starting point.

      Some, like Chris Brogan, say that keyword search is becoming less important to people because so many sites try to game SEO and top search results can be bogus in quality and overwhelming in quantity. Word of mouth from those we trust is more important, and we can get those recommendations pretty quickly from Twitter, Facebook or even a LinkedIn question.

      I still think that comments are a relevant means of measuring a blog’s engagement, and travelers who are interested certainly do comment frequently. I see it all the time on my two travel blogs and sites like WorldHum.

      Thanks for visiting!

  5. Robert Payne says:

    Absolutely Sheila! My point is there are a lot of factors. People like Chris Brogan say a lot of things that are fairly broad. The fact of the matter is that you have to address a destination’s unique positioning, personality, and objectives to develop actionable strategies and tactics to engage your target audience. Whew, I know that sounds like a lot of marketing speak! :~) People like Brogan, Kawasaki, Godin, Shankman, and the list goes on build their online relevance through offline channels just as much if not more. If you want to piggyback on their relevance to market your destination then there is obviously going to be a monetary exchange of which may or may not make sense. Brand ambassadors are good, but you have to be careful because people can see through it. As far as keywords, they’ve got to be there. Period. Totally agree on the comments, but there is no doubt that the majority people consume the content without commenting. Thanks for taking the time to respond to me. I now have you in my feeds under travel & tourism. Take care!

  6. Pingback: Blogger outreach best practices: a Tourism Currents webinar | Sheila's Guide To The Good Stuff

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