Last week, I spoke at the M2Moms conference in Chicago; I spoke to a wide range of brand managers and PR people who are sincerely interested in working with bloggers to get the word out about the products and brands they promote. Over and over, they asked how to find the best bloggers. The short answer, of course, is to do your research — there is no one-size-fits-all directory of Great Bloggers.

There are a variety of Best Of lists available; Babble Media’s Top 50 Twitter Moms is a perfect example of a really useful list. Their list covers a variety of categories (Most Controversial, Most Helpful, Funniest) and points to some of the most prolific mom tweeters on the web. If you’re planning a Twitter-heavy campaign, this list would be a good place to start. A simple Google search for “best mom blogs” turns up multiple lists — all of which are a good jumping off place for tracking down that perfect blogger. (You can substitute any term for “mom” — food blogger, craft blogger, dad blogger — depending on what exactly you’re looking for.)

Once you’ve found a list, take the time to actually read the blogs. This seems like such a simple directive, but it’s one that many PR people and brand managers often skip. Rather than pitching your brand or product to everyone on a list because they are on the list, pitch only those bloggers to whom your pitch will be relevant. There are lots of terrific mom blogs out there, but not all of those moms have babies; indiscriminately pitching a campaign for baby products to every mom on a particular list is a good way to convince bloggers you have no idea who they are — and, even worse, that you don’t really care.

Reading the blogs you’re planning to pitch is also important because you want to be sure the blogger’s voice and tone are a good match for your brand or product. Look for bloggers whose online persona is a good fit for whatever you are pitching. Look also for bloggers who are already writing about brands and products similar to yours; a blogger who writes frequently about the environment, for example, would be a terrific match for an ecologically safe cleaning product, but a poor match for an SUV campaign.

How can you measure a blogger’s influence? A quick way is to look at his or her Twitter profile. A blogger with a huge number of followers may very well be heavily influential on Twitter, but be wary of making a hiring decision solely on that number. A blogger who follows 200 people but is followed by 2,000 may very well be more influential than a blogger who has 25,000 followers but follows an equal number of people. In other words, a blogger who is speaking to a loyal group, even if they are on the smaller side, may do more for your brand than a blogger who is not genuinely engaging with his or her followers.

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