On PR and Pitching Bloggers

That guest post from Michael Martine on how to pitch bloggers was intended mostly as tongue in cheek, but it’s amazing how many emails I get about it! So I decided to give you some straight-up talk about really pitching bloggers. The first tip is; it’s not a with a standard press release! Really, do you think bloggers have time to wade through a press release? We get tons of ’em every day, why are we going to pick out yours as the one we read?  I hate to be cruel, but if I don’t know you and you don’t get me with the title I’m probably not going to even read the email past the first line. Surveys say you’ve got 6 seconds; make it good.

On the other hand, if I already know and respect you I’ll read it and I might pass it along to someone else or give you feedback if it’s not a good fit for me right now.

See the difference?

Find out who I am
What are my interests and what do I usually talk about? Read my bio (better yet, read my book!)

Read my blogs and see if they are a good fit for what you want to pitch. Did I just write a post about something similar? You might want to wait a while to pitch me again.

Reference a recent post or Tweet when you connect so I know you’re at least paying attention.

Don’t pitch–engage

  • Comment on my blog- and not as a sale pitch. Say something authentic and relevant. Add to the conversation and share it with your connections.
  • Follow me on Twitter and/or FriendFeed and support me by re-tweeting or commenting in a discussion there. Be a valuable member of my network.
  • Join a Linkedin group or forum that relates to your goals and engage in conversation there. If I’m a member, engage me through the network with a comment or a message about what we are discussing. Don’t pander. Have a point of view.
  • Email me with a question or information about something I’m discussing. (Not about you.)
  • Be interesting. Be somebody I want to know more about.
  • Once we have a relationship you could even call me, though honestly a good Twitter pitch is more likely to get through.

Finding the right bloggers
It’s always a good idea to avoid broadcasting into the wind with social media and never more so than when you’re trying to attract people to write about you. So why not narrow your search with some good oldfangled sleuthing?

Do some searches and find out who is talking about your space. Are they on your side already or do they need education? Have they written something recently you can comment on or share with your network? Scan the sites like MyBlogLog and Google Blog Search to find bloggers interested in your area.

Is there a competing company or marketing agency that is well known in the space? Who are they talking to? If they sound open minded (read not paid) they may be interested in your product too. TALK to them before you pitch them.

What’s in it for us?
A stellar example of rousing a crowd to write for you is Blog Action Day. It’s basically a big pile of non-profit organizations banding together toward a common goal.

In 2009 it was climate change. They encouraged bloggers to write a post related to the cause and all on one day. In return the bloggers got exposure, an opportunity to voice their own message to a huge audience and even be featured on the partner sites and the Blog Action Day site. over 13,000 bloggers participated in 156 countries, viewed by over 18 million readers. Now that’s action! As a result all of these bloggers have pride in ownership of the event and are still blogging about the partner sites. Win-win all around.

Did I mention there were no tchotkes involved? Sure I’d love an Apple Tablet to test out and I promise I’ll blog it’s wonders to the heavens. I already know it’s going to be fab and I WANT one! On the other hand, a gift certificate to a Las Vegas buffet isn’t getting me to write about you at CES. Honestly, I’d rather read a good pitch from somebody I know than get a box of goodies in the mail anonymously. How many logo-emblazoned Slinkies does a girl really need anyway??

Bottom line? Just like in the “old days” of press relations, it’s the relationships that are carefully nurtured that will pay off the most. Possibly in ways you can’t forsee. Shortcuts may work on occasion, and you might get lucky with a blogger who needs a story right at the moment you send off a press release, but will they really put their heart into it? I don’t think so.