Because I work with a number of PR firms, and have worked for a PR agency in the past, I’m well aware of the difference in pitching bloggers vs. journalists. The problem is, most PR people aren’t. My blogger friends bitch and moan to me constantly about the bad pitches they get from PR people, and how many mass emails they receive. But c’mon folks, it’s been years since this problem was identified and there have been lots of attempts to help PR people understand the difference. Yet blogger outreach still seems to be a problem for most PR practitioners.
I’m going to give it a shot and tell you my process for blogger outreach. This is not the only way, it’s just how I do it, and it’s been pretty helpful to me for a number of years. Hopefully it will help you too.
Identify the Bloggers
Create a list of blogs you think might make sense for your brand. Yes, your intern can do this. But it’s got to be more than a “list of mommyblogs.” (More than once I’ve been handed a list with a bunch of URLs. Not so helpful.) Create an Excel spreadsheet and put in all of the information you can’t find in Vocus or Cision. For example, if you’re going after mom or dad bloggers, here are some of the things you might research and put into your list:
- ages of the blogger’s children
- parenting topics (kids with special needs, blended families, working parents, etc.)
- physical location (you might need them for something local down the road)
- whether they write about products or services at all (indeed, some blogs are still personal blogs with no PR/brand involvement – imagine that!)
- whether they’ve worked with competitor brands
- whether or not they host giveaways or contests
And so on. Tailor this list to your industry or pitch needs.
Note that in order to create this kind of a list you (or that intern) will have to read the blogs. More than one post. Plus the About Me/About Us page. This is not a task which can be finished in ten minutes. Take pity on your poor intern and realize that this is a lot of work. If the pitch is important enough, it’s worth at least a day or two (or more) of their time (or yours).
This is the part which is most often ignored. You will have much more success if you have a relationship with the blogger before you pitch them. This means you’ve subscribed to their blog (in your RSS reader or via email), you’ve left a comment or two (relevant, not throwaway) on their blog, and you feel like you “know” them as you know any you do other blog you read regularly (like your favorite sports blog or celebrity gossip blog). You can also develop relationships by meeting bloggers at events, conferences and meetups. Add a column to your spreadsheet which indicates whether you really “follow” the blogger or “know” the blogger in real life, so that you can use those bloggers for your most important pitches.
If you absolutely don’t have the time to do this for your pitch, just be sure that you’ve done the best identification possible and have the greatest amount of information on every blogger before you select who you’re going to pitch.
Choose the Blogger and Craft the Pitch
Once you’ve got a reasonable list of bloggers to choose from, select a few blogs which seem to be the most relevant to your pitch and/or those with whom you feel you’ve got the best relationship. For each blog that you’re pitching, determine a connection between the blog and your brand, product or pitch. For example, if the blogger has recently gone to CES and written about gadgets, and you’ve got a gadget to pitch, mention that you read their gadget posts (which you have, right?) and that you agree or disagree with one of their reviews. (Or whatever.) Just be authentic, honest, and as specific as you can. Every blogger gets pitches which say “I read your posts and just love them! You’re so funny!” It’s not enough.
Next, determine whether what you want the blogger to do relates to brand-related work they may have done in the past. Such as, “you’ve recently hosted a giveaway for Brand X, so I’m wondering if you’re willing to work with me to create a giveaway for My Brand which would make sense for your readers.” But never fear, even if you don’t see that they’re already doing something similar, you can pitch them on what you want them to do. Just be polite and make your ask as clear as possible.
An even better way to gain traction with a blogger is to take a slightly longer route, and to tell them that you want to work with them to create a realtionship to the brand which makes sense for them. Instead of assuming that they will give something away or write a review or write a guest post for you, first ask them if they are interested in the brand, then have a phone call (gasp! an actual conversation) with them to brainstorm about ways in which you can work together authentically for both parties.
Make It a Win-Win
Above all, make it clear that you want this to be a win-win for the blogger and for your brand. And I hope I’m not the first person to break it to you, folks, when I say that for most bloggers this means they expect to be compensated in some way (and no, “traffic to your site” is not compensation). After all, you are asking them to be your marketing arm and to help you promote your product or service to their readers. And they are not getting paid by their publication to do this work – they are the publication.
If you take the time to craft a a handful of well-researched, informed, and well-matched pitches, you will likely get a much, much higher return than if you sent out a boilerplate “Dear Blogger” pitch to a list of 100 blogs. In the end, the time you spend upfront could very well justify itself vs. the time you have to take to follow-up incessantly with the hundreds of bloggers who are ignoring your bad pitch.
Do you agree? Disagree? Have other ways to improve blogger pitches? Please give us your thoughts in the comments below.
- Can You Pass The Social Media Relations Quiz? (badpitch.blogspot.com)
- This Is How You Pitch A Blogger (thefuturebuzz.com)
- Two levels of getting it right with blogger relations (getgood.com)