Pitching to Bloggers: Do’s and Don’ts
We hate to break it to you, but the days of “Dear Media Outlet” with an attached press release are long gone. Generalized follow-up emails to journalists are quickly deleted. In today’s world of public relations, the traditional pitch to journalists is becoming outdated altogether. Now that social media and blogging have consumed our online agendas, PR specialists must take this into consideration. If you haven’t already heard, participation via social networking is the new pitch. Likewise, creating a personal pitch that will catch a blogger’s attention is the key to successfully sharing your news. If executed correctly, not only will your story get published, but your credibility among the blogger community will undoubtedly increase.
PR practitioners have come to realize that bloggers can be some of the best and most responsive sources, when the pitch and follow-up are implemented genuinely and strategically. Every PR professional has his or her own unique process for creating a great pitch, but there are certain guidelines for pitching to bloggers, in particular, that tend to yield the most successfully receptive results.
Do: Identify the blogger. Create a list of blogs that relate to your client. Media list creation programs such as Cision, Vocus and Meltwater make this process quicker, but it is still the job of the PR representative to meticulously pay attention to beats, pitching tips, and most importantly, the blogger as a person. Researching the blog and the author is the first step toward a positive response. The most important element in this beginning stage is to eliminate from your list the media contacts that will not care about your topic.
Do: Make connections. This step is often overlooked by PR professionals, even though there are several ways to go about this process. Subscribe to a blog via email or RSS feed; Leave comments on previous blog posts; Develop relationships with bloggers by attending events, meet-ups or conferences. The key is to truly follow and “get to know” a blogger—that way you will be able to create a flawlessly personalized, stand-out pitch.
Do: Strategize when crafting the pitch. For each blogger you pitch, determine an honest and specific connection between the blog and your news. Simply stating that you read their blog and you love it, won’t cut it. Bloggers get hundreds of these emails a day.
Do: Make it a win-win. At the end of the day, the best pitch is going to benefit the blogger and your brand. Professional blogger Darren Rowse, founder and editor of ProBlogger, says if you’re pitching to bloggers, you must pitch in a way that will benefit their readers, i.e. promoting relevant and high quality products. In the best case scenario, the blogger/blog, their readers, and your client will all benefit in some way.
On the contrary, there are a few don’ts for pitching to bloggers that public relations individuals should take note of before implementing the do’s. Be aware of the following before getting carried away with the pitching advice listed above.
Don’t: Be arrogant. Bloggers resent pitches that begin with “You will definitely be interested in this story” or “you must write about this incredible product.”
Don’t: Attach anything! Unfortunately if you are attaching documents or pictures in your pitches, they may as well say “Do not read” in the subject line. Media contacts of all sorts, not just bloggers, are rarely inclined to glance at an email that has any type of attachment. It is recommended that you paste your press release into the body of the email. If you have a photo, include a link by using a public sharing program like Dropbox.
Don’t: Camouflage your pitch as a blog comment. Bloggers will not appreciate viewing a pitch in a place where they expect to see feedback on their craft. Posting your pitch as a comment or feedback is not a strategic way to stand out, it is misleading and will likely result in resentment from a media contact.
Don’t: Be unoriginal. The worst thing you can do when trying to catch the writer’s attention is to start the pitch with “Dear Blogger.” As soon as the blogger or journalist perceives the pitch as an impersonal email that has been sent in mass production, they will stop reading and most likely delete. Note: If you happen to be sending a blogger an exclusive story that you believe only pertains to that particular blog, tell them! That is original, and will absolutely catch the blogger’s eye if they’re paying attention.
The bottom line is, if you take these do’s and don’ts into consideration the next time you attempt to pitch to bloggers, you will see the return on your time investment. If you truly take the time to create a handful of well-researched and well-matched pitches, you can expect a much higher response rate than if you send out a mass email pitch to a list of one-hundred bloggers. In the end, it will be much more beneficial to spend the time in the beginning to build relationships and become well-informed, than to scramble during the follow-up process with the long list of blogs who have already decided to ignore your pitch.