passport podcast Working with Bloggers

Is Your Influencer Marketing Still Legal? – Passport Travel Marketing & PR Podcast #039

Is Your Influencer Marketing Still Legal? - updated FTC Guidelines - Passport Travel Marketing & PR Podcast #039 Interview with Kerry O’Shea Gorgone from MarketingProfs about updates to the FTC guidelines for working with influencers.

Kerry O’Shea Gorgone designs premium MarketingProfs training products for individual marketers and corporations at MarketingProfs. She’s also a speaker, writer, attorney, and educator. She holds an MBA from Bentley University, and graduated first in her class from Suffolk University Law School. Kerry has taught courses in marketing law, intellectual property, and business. Most recently, she taught New Media Marketing and Marketing Campaign Development for the Internet Marketing Master of Science Program at Full Sail University in Florida.

Kerry hosts the weekly Marketing Smarts podcast for MarketingProfs and co-hosts Punch Out With Katie and Kerry, the show that explores marketing stars’ weird hobbies, cool collections, and side hustles. She is also a contributing writer for numerous sites, including Huffington Post, Mark Schaefer’s {grow} blog, Social Media Explorer, Entrepreneur, Spin Sucks, and

FTC disclosure requirements for influencers

Host: Chris Christensen of and

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Is Your Influencer Marketing Still Legal? - updated FTC Guidelines - Passport Travel Marketing & PR Podcast #039 #travel #marketing #pr #influencer-marketing #ftc

passport podcast Working with Bloggers

Influencer Marketing – Passport Travel Marketing & PR Podcast #034

Influencer Marketing – Passport Travel Marketing & PR Podcast #034Interview with Travel blogger and photographer Gary Arndt about Influencer Marketing. Gary Arndt is an awarding winning blogger and travel photographer who has been traveling around the world since 2007, taking him through 200 countries and territories and over 380 UNESCO World Heritage sites. His blog Everything Everywhere has won numerous awards, including being named one of the Top 25 Blogs on the Internet in 2010 by Time Magazine. He’s won so many awards that this introduction would have been 10 minutes long if I hadn’t edited it, but, just to name a few, the North American Travel Journalist Association (NATJA) has given him a Gold Medal in the Travel Blog category as well as declaring him Travel Photographer of the Year in 2013 & 2015. And then. Just to fill the space, SATW gave him the Travel Photographer of the Year award in 2014. He has recently launched a new online course called “working with travel bloggers and travel influencers” which is designed help destination marketers differentiate the good, bad and ugly pitches and maximize their investment.

Top Travel Blogs for 2019

Hosts: Leif Pettersen of Leif Pettersen PR and Chris Christensen of and Subscribe: Android | Email | Google Podcasts | RSS Influencer Marketing – Passport Travel Marketing & PR Podcast #034 #travel #tourism #influencer-marketing #marketig #pr #content-marketing
passport podcast Working with Bloggers

“Influencer Marketing” – Passport Travel Marketing & PR Podcast #030

"Influencer Marketing" – Passport Travel Marketing & PR Podcast #030

With discuss working with bloggers with Keith Jenkins from iambassador, one of the first blogger run agencies.

Keith Jenkins founded iambassador and began offering social media marketing and digital content services in 2011. Keith is also the Founder and Publisher of the Velvet Escape luxury travel blog. He has visited more than 80 countries across six continents. Keith often speaks at travel and social media conferences and has been featured in The New York Times, BBC Travel, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic Traveler, and has spoken at TEDxTalk.

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Hosts: Leif Pettersen of Leif Pettersen PR and Chris Christensen of and

"Influencer Marketing" – Passport Travel Marketing & PR Podcast #030 #travel #marketing #influencer #podcast

Working with Bloggers

Should You Hire an Instagram Marketing Service?

Whether you are a company or a blogger, you probably have a lot of things to do. A difficult but important question is when should you outsource some of what you are doing, in this case to an Instagram Marketing Service.

Stalled Instagram Growth

For me, the question was what to do about instagram. A lot of companies are looking for bloggers with 10,000+ instagram followers for different campaigns and I was not having much luck growing my account. I had about 3,000 followers,

I was posting a new photo once or twice a day, but I really didn’t have the time to spend on instagram between Amateur, the This Week in Travel podcast, the Passport Travel Marketing and PR podcast, another podcast, volunteering and paid software consulting. I was pretty busy.

Hire an Expert

I was approached by Social Network Elite that they would spend a month working to raise my instagram following as a trial as long as I would write about what the results were.

I needed to know some things first. I needed to know:

  • They would not buy followers
  • They would not actually post any new images on my feed
  • They would just interact with other instagram users, commenting, following, etc.

It seemed worth a try, but frankly I was skeptical. When they started  I was at 3,100 followers, after a month I was at 4,000 followers. But the more interesting thing is that since then my followers have grown to 4,823 followers. Some of that may have been directly from their effort but it seems like they also just helped me build some momentum that has continued after they stopped.

Now I have spent some time for a month before trying the kind of things that they were doing with less success. So some of the success was effort but some is probably that they are better at this than I am. So I could have outsourced this to some VA in the Philippines who had more time but did not have as much knowledge and I would have gotten different results.


One thing I do like about Instagram is spending some time looking at my Instagram feed for what friends are doing or just looking at cool photos. Now that someone else has been in charge of who I follow, I have sometimes gone in and said, “why am I following that person who is not posting travel photos”. I have unfollowed some people.

This was one of the big reasons I wanted to make sure I knew the ground rules. Following someone I didn’t want to is not a big deal but posting photos would be a bigger deal and buying followers would make me deserve to be sent to some frozen level of internet hell.


Outsourcing somethings helps. In my case I did find that an Instagram Marketing Service was able to get more results than I could and… those results seem to have gotten me unstuck. So, what is your experience?


passport podcast Working with Bloggers

Vetting Influencers – Passport Travel Marketing & PR Podcast Episode 7

Interview of Dalene Heck from Hecktic Media about how to choose the right influencers for a campaign. Break out your spreadsheets, and let Dalene add some rigor to the process.

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Dalene and Pete Heck run Hecktic Media Inc. which works with some of the world’s best new media talent to create highly influential and inspirational campaigns for destinations and brands.

Dalene holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and Pete is a Bachelor of Management graduate. They both spent about ten years in their respective fields before co-founding Hecktic media in 2013. They were named National Geographic Travelers of the Year in 2014.

Hosts: Leif Pettersen of Leif Pettersen PR and Chris Christensen of and

BloggerBridge Working with Bloggers

15 Tips for Choosing Bloggers to Work With

Earlier this year I was working with the agency for Airberlin to help them pick bloggers for a specific FAM trip to Germany.

This is a service we offer now at but, It seemed like others might be interested in what sort of things I look for when looking for bloggers.


Airberlin was organizing a trip to Düsseldorf for carnival. It was the 3rd year in a row they had offered this trip.


The first year that Airberlin offered this trip we had 204 bloggers that were interested within a week. While it is great to have interest, that creates a lot of work. So the first thing we did for this trip is set some minimum qualifications:

  1. Domain Authority – We looked for a domain authority of 35 or greater. Domain authority is something a website gets overtime by being linked to by others. It is a decent sign of a blog that will drive SEO traffic to your website.
  2. Page Views – For this trip which included free airfare we set a minimum number of page views of 10,000.


Even with those qualifications we ended up with 45 bloggers and only a few spots on the trip. So now we start to compare bloggers.

We had created this opportunity in as a “One Click Apply”. That means that everyone who expressed interest in the trip was added to a list of bloggers. We can sort that list in different ways so:

3) I Sorted the list by traffic (page views) first and start at the top of the list to look at the different bloggers.

4) I also saved myself some time by creating some templates. I created one that said (in a nice way) “Sorry we had a lot of interest but and you did not make the cut”. I can then click a button to start a message to someone quickly.

Edit your message templates here:

5) The next question for the client was, what are your requirements for location? language? audience?

The #2 slot on the list had a lot of traffic, but his blog is in Spanish about a specific European city, the city where he lives… and it wasn’t Düsseldorf. I eliminated him, because the content wasn’t relevant to this project which was trying to promote Airberlin to the U.S. market.

The list also had bloggers from Canada, a couple from Great Britain, one from India and one from the Philippines whose audience were not big in the U.S. We eliminated those as well.

6) I wouldn’t just pick the top 5 for traffic. Some of the bloggers are travel bloggers and some are not. I knew one  blogger, for instance, on the 1st page and she is great. The client would love her. But I will bet her most popular posts are recipes.

So if I pick a Lifestyle blogger or a parenting blogger, for instance,
I would want to ask how many page views they usually get for travel content. That is a reasonable question to ask.

7) I can even use the campaign tracking feature to get the specific page views for a post which they have created in the past which is similar to what they expect to post for this project.

Maybe I would pick one of the family bloggers, or maybe I would do a whole blog trip with just them, but it would depend on the content and what their audience likes.

8) When I was on the first Düseeldorf trip we went to a drag queen competition because we were with a number of gay travel bloggers. You want to match the bloggers and the itinerary. So think about the bloggers you want before creating the itinerary or pick the bloggers that match the itinerary.

9) The blogger  who had the most traffic blogs about meals normally. So I asked the client did they have some good meals planned? Her site is a bit slow, but some of her travel content had great depth. I know this because by now I am looking at content on the bloggers sites.

10) I looked at time on site  in the Google Analytics for each blogger. Anything more than a minute long is typical, much under a minute is a concern.

One blogger had a 50 secs time on site. That is not low enough that I would reject her, but I noted a different blogger with over 2 minutes  time on her site which meant that even though she has almost half as many page views total, she gets more attention in terms of time people spend reading her site.

One blogger had a time on site that was only 28 seconds. The longest post I found on her site was 128 words. Skip her.

11) Ask around

I knew personally 5 of the bloggers on the list and they are all great to be around. For other people on your short list you can ask for the name of a PR rep that they have gone on a fam trip with.

12) Think mix. It might be nice to have one person who is good with video, at least one photographer, maybe at least one person with a strong social media following, especially because this is a big colorful event.

13) I sort the list by Instagram followers and look at the top couple.

I expect to see something like 30 likes / 1000 followers and the more comments the better. Our top Instagrammer had good numbers and probably more importantly, I liked her photos.

14) I sorted the list by You Tube subscribers to see if there were any people good with video, the carnival parade would make for some interesting video.

The top blogger by video followers have been around for a while, although I don’t know them personally. Some of their videos got a lot of views, but some didn’t,  so I checked out the next few on the list as well.

15) I sorted by total followers to see if there are some surprises

One blogger had a great facebook following, so she was worth looking at, but her time on site is not great and I only found one travel story on her blog. Her travel category was mostly movie reviews. Skip her.


By this point we had a pretty good short list. What would you do different?

Uncategorized Working with Bloggers

Why I Ignored Your Press Release – A Blogger Perspective

Why I Ignored Your Press Release - A Blogger Perspective

In addition to running, I have an award winning travel blog and podcast called Amateur Traveler, this post is written from the viewport of the 11 years I have spent as a travel blogger.

This is not one of those posts that complains about the quality of PR pitches that I get. Don’t get me wrong, I have enough material for that post but I thought it might be more useful to look at some of the underlying assumptions for PR pitches and whether those assumptions are valid  for bloggers.

As I understand the PR world there is the reality and the theory of PR. While the reality behind a PR pitch is often “my client wants me to announce this”, the theory is that a press release provides value it the following ways:

1) Reporters have to write a certain number of stories and are short of ideas so a Pitch can provide story ideas

2) News outlets are always in search of the latest news, I mean hey it’s right there in the name. A PR pitch is a great way to bring news to a reporters attention.

3) Reporters, freelancers in particular, are always looking for a new story angle that will  catch the eye of an editor. A good pitch can have a good story angle.

How are Bloggers the Same?

When you pitch me you are basically pitching my audience. What would they find interesting. I don’t see that as any different from pitching mainstream media. And of course most of the really bad pitches I get forget this basic thing. If I write you back:

“I blog about travel”

…then you forgot.

I get a lot of pitches. That too is the same as newspaper editors or freelancers I know. You are trying to stand out in a crowd.

So how are bloggers any different?

Many Hats

There is no one way to characterize bloggers. They have a greater variety of motivations to write in the first place. One big difference is that a blogger is often the publisher, the editor and the reporter all in one. That means that when you pitch me you are pitching the publisher as well as the reporter. I can guarantee a story will be written but I am thinking, how will this make me money, not just is this an interesting story. With sponsored posts that answer is obvious, but with any other story I have to believe that this post will get me a lot of traffic that I can monetize in some fashion.

Also many bloggers, like me, are doing blogging on the side in addition to some other full time or part time job. So when you pitch me your pitch also has to be good enough, to be interesting enough to write instead of making money.

Because blogging is just one of the things that I do, I have a backlog of story ideas. I checked recently and found I had over 250 different story ideas. In addition to podcasts and videos, I try and put out one solid blog post a week. That means even if I stop traveling today or stop getting new ideas tomorrow, I have literally 5 years worth of ideas. I don’t need more story ideas. What I lack is time not ideas. And yes, those bad pitches just take away from my most precious resource.


You can safely predict that tonight’s local news show will be an hour long and could safely predict about how many pages will be in tomorrow’s newspaper or next month’s issue of your favorite magazine. They all come out on a deadline and on a slow news cycle may need some help filling up the space. Blogs have no such deadlines except those that may be self imposed by the blogger, and there is no white space or dead air that needs filling.

Shelf Life

The other thing that is different about my blog, and many blogs, is that what I am looking at is stories that have good shelf life. I want a story that is good tomorrow but is still valuable in 5 years. Much of my traffic comes from search engines so even if I am not promoting an older story, often then most popular post on my blog wasn’t written this year.

This is the good news about working with bloggers. Your newspaper article will be at the bottom of the birdcage tomorrow. Your TV spot forgotten by next Thursday. Even most online mainstream media sites delete stories after a year or so (madness).

But, this actually means that I am not looking for news. That is to say I am not looking for a story that is timely so much as I am looking for one that is timeless and useful. So ever one who pitches me a new hotel opening or a hotel deal is pitching me something that is generally of no use to me. Why would I spend my limited amount of time available for writing on a story that is obsolete next week or next month?


Before you pitch another blogger, look at what you are sending and see if it makes sense. If you aren’t sure, ask. See if you can learn what might be interesting. Sending really bad pitches will get your email treated like spam. Sending boring pitches will at best, get it ignored.

How about picking a hand full of bloggers this week who you would really like to work with and spending a few minutes asking them what kind of things they look for? What have you got to lose?

BloggerBridge Working with Bloggers

Reaching Bloggers – Getting The Word Out With Opportunities

AirBerlin wanted to take 5 bloggers on a press trip to Düsseldorf. JayWay Travel has an apartment in Prague they can let bloggers stay in. Great. So now what?


Even when you have something great to offer you still have to get the word out. So you work with a PR firm or you try and collect an email list of bloggers… somehow. Or you ask around. Spending more than a thousand dollars to a PR firm is the way most companies solve this problem.

BloggerBridge – Opportunities

What AirBerlin did instead was open a BloggerBridge Lite account and advertise an opportunity. Bloggers could sign up with a one click apply button and AirBerlin received all the bloggers via a list that they could sort in most of the same ways as the search feature. Which bloggers had the most Instagram followers, page views, twitter followers. They had 210 bloggers apply within a week. All this without collecting spreadsheets of stats, emailing for Google Analytics, etc.

If you get too many bloggers you can add a user filter and the opportunity will only be visible for certain types of bloggers, bloggers with x many followers, bloggers who have at least y page views, etc. Opportunities

Working with Bloggers

Get Started Working with Bloggers

getting started working with bloggers

This is the year you are going to start working with bloggers and other influencers, at least that was your New Year’s resolution… of course that was last Year’s resolution also. The problem is where do you start? Let me propose a simple way to get started.

Before The Chase Begins

When I was a kid I had a dog that chased cars but I was never convinced he had thought this through. What was he going to do with a car of he ever caught one? Many destinations begin working with bloggers with no better plans that Fideaux had. So before you start answer these two questions?

1) What are you trying to accomplish?
2) What kind of value can you provide to bloggers?


There are many goals that blogger / influencer outreach can help you address:

1) Do you need content for your website or more links to it to try and get more search traffic?
2) Do you want more content about your destination elsewhere on the web for marketing?
3) Are you trying to build your presence on Social Media?
4) Are there specific audiences that you need help reaching?
5) Are there specific messages you are trying to get out?
6) Are there misperceptions about your destination that you want to correct?
7) Are there regions or countries where you want to target your message?

You don’t need to know the answer to all of those questions yet, but pick one that you want to make progress on to get started.

Quid Pro Quo

Bloggers have the same need to eat on a regular basis that you do so the question they will have about visiting your destination vs another one is what is in it for them. What do you have to offer? Your budget is limited and you want to get the most of of what you spend.

Here are some questions to ask:

1) Can I provide payment?
2) Can I provide accommodations?
3) Can I provide some other savings like a museum pass or a transit pass?
4) Is there value I can bring that won’t cost me money?
5) Are there partners I can work with?

The White House wanted to motivate travel bloggers at the recent Travel Blogger’s Summit to get out the story of the advantages of studying abroad. The problem is that they had no budget at all for this effort. So first they worked with other sponsors who also wanted to reach out to top travel bloggers like Hostelling International and Turkish Airways. Hostelling International offered to put up the bloggers for a night, Turkish Airlines sponsored a party. They offered a chance to meet with people like the White House Chief of Staff and a tour of the White House. For the 10 bloggers who promoted their message the most on social media they invited them back to the White House for a special one on one tour including a peak in the Oval Office. This cost them time, for sure, but no money.

So what can you do? You can promote the posts they write for sure, but that is just table stakes. Can you give a blogger a free walking tour? Can you connect them with a hotel sponsorship.

If you wanted to buy a sponsored post on a blog that can easily cost $100-500 depending on the audience of the blog, so consider what you can provide that will have that kind of value.

Then what?

When a destination starts to work with bloggers it may start with a media trip but that can be an expensive way to get started. just started selling a Lite version of their product ($200 / year) that will let you:

1) Be notified when bloggers are coming to one specific city (either yours or that popular tourist destination nearby). If you know when bloggers will be in your area you can reach out to them and not have to spend your budget on plane tickets which can help your budget go further. Why keep sending those “If I had known you were in the area…” emails?

2) List an opportunity for bloggers. For example, if you decided above that you could provide a night’s lodging then you can advertise that in exchange for a blog post on your destination (for either your blog or theirs, depending on your goals) then you can put them up. Or maybe you just offer a museum pass publicly, but if you see someone who has a big following is interested you can sweeten the pot. The system also let’s you filter which bloggers will see your offer by traffic numbers, social media followers, blog topic, years of blogging etc. You can use this if you find you are getting too much interest.

Whether you have a great experience or a less stellar one, you can also review and rate bloggers so that other DMOs will know who are the best people to work with.

Influencer outreach, blogger outreach can be useful to help you meet your goals. It does not have to be complicated and the best way to learn it is to start today.

first published at Working with Bloggers and Influencers for Destinations

BloggerBridge Working with Bloggers

Who to Invite for a Press Trip… with help from

Who to Invite for a Press Trip with help from

We have had two different companies use BloggerBridge recently to plan a press trip for bloggers and other influencers and I thought that explaining what they did and how they did it could be useful for other destinations or companies.

There are a number of things to think about when you are planning a press trip and we have discussed some of them before here on the blog:

But today let’s look at the critical question of who to invite. Anyone who has run a press or blogger trip can tell you stories if you are not already convinced that the right people can both make for a great trip and help you meet your goals for the trip. And every PR who has worked with traditional journalists or bloggers probably has at least one story about the person they will never invite again.

Finding the Right People – BloggerBridge Premium

One way to use BloggerBridge for your press trip is to use a Premium account and the search features to look for bloggers in the niches and locations you care about. Find people who blog in the right language, who might be in the area and who have the audience you want. One example of this we saw recently was the recent White House Travel Blogger Summit.

“When I was tasked with finding the top 100 bloggers for the White House Travel Blogger Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship, one of the first places I went was BloggerBridge. The system makes it easy to see bloggers’ reach and examples of their work, so it saved me a lot of hassle in identifying attendees with the right fit.”

Netanya Trimboli – Communications and PR Manager at Hostelling International USA

Let the Right People Find You – BloggerBridge Lite

A very different way to find the right people is to put out the word that you are doing a press trip and let bloggers apply. You can do that with a BloggerBridge Premium account but you can also do so with the new BloggerBridge Lite account which is what AirBerlin did for a press trip to carnival in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Madeleine from Air Berlin posted an opportunity that publicized this trip to the BloggerBridge community and received  220 “applications” in about a week. But these “applications” were delivered as a sortable list of users that she could use to quickly sort bloggers by their audience or their social following. She did not have to have spreadsheets of bloggers and their numbers and didn’t have to ask for printouts of their google analytics.

One change we had to make after this experience was change the button that blogger’s click from “Apply” to “One Click Apply” because the application was too simple so they didn’t know they had done it. We already know all the kind of information that an application normally asks if they had finished filling out their BloggerBridge profile.

“Blogger Bridge has been an amazing tool and has simplified the selection process for filling our press trips. We received an overwhelming response to our trip posting, so happy with the results”

Madeleine Vogelsang – Communications Manager at Air Berlin Americas

Your Next Press Trip

Based on this experience we recommend:

1) Be very clear what you are looking for. At first the opportunity did not say that the blogger needed to be able to fly from one of these specific Air Berlin cities. If you have information like that make it public to filter out candidates that are not applicable.

2) Require specific characteristics. If you know you need at least a certain number of page views on Google Analytics or a certain number of instagram followers or a specific niche you can add a User Filter on the opportunity so that the opportunity only shows up to people who meet those qualifications.

3) We have launched a new newsletter for the BloggerBridge community so be sure to let us know when you are offering something as cool as riding on a float in carnival and we can help you get more visibility from thousands of bloggers.

4) After the press trip, write reviews for all the bloggers who attended in