Blogs are increasingly competitive sources of information for users’ time online compared to mainstream media and many marketers and public relations practitioners persist at stumbling about the blogosphere like bulls in a china shop.
Since my own blog gets about 5-10 pitches per week on average, I think I have a pretty good idea of the variety of ways blogs in general are getting pitched these days. The verdict? Not good.
The emergence of such blogs as The Bad Pitch Blog which is updated a lot more frequently and far more popular than The Good Pitch Blog goes to show that there’s simply not enough attention paid to what constitutes a good pitch. And we all know what Rick thinks about a crappy pitch.
On the topic of blog relations, you hear a lot about being careful of pitching bloggers and that you shouldn’t pitch blogs the same way as you would a print journalist. That’s true for the most part, but there are also many similarities.
To help pros and flacks alike, here are a few of my own tips on pitching blogs which may help PR practitioners resonate more with the blogging community.
- Be relevant. It seems so simple and obvious, yet it is the biggest mistake made when pitching bloggers. Look at the categories of the blog and look at previous blog posts. Is your pitch REALLY relevant for the blog? With a lot of the pitches we get, you can tell there’s been no attempt to look any further than the title of the blog. For example, on my own blog I get pitches about things like online advertising or creative interactive advertising campaigns ala Adrants and a quick look at the categories or previous blog posts reveals that the blog clearly does not cover advertising.
- Personalize. Getting an email pitch with no personal reference at all, or just a press release and no message is a sure trip to the trash folder. Even more annoying is when there is an attempt to personalize, but it’s copy/paste and the fonts are completely different between the template text being used and the “personalized” content, which often ends up not being very accurate anyway. Take the time to research the blog, make comments and get involved. Be honest about who you are in the comments and provide thoughtful insight that is of value and relevant to the blog post.
- Make it easy. Time and time again, I get pitches with one sentence and then the full press release copied into the email or worse, attached as a MS Word doc. This can be very annoying and shows there has been very little effort made. Most bloggers don’t write 600 word stories in response to a press release. They are far more prone to link to a press release. So provide a summary of the release in the email, and a link to the full version of the press release hosted elsewhere. Some bloggers might just copy and paste your summary, add some commentary and a link to the full release you’ve provided. Remember, popular bloggers are very busy. Make it easy for them to blog your story.
- Schwag is good. I’ll admit it. I don’t mind getting books sent to me to review. In almost all cases I will at least mention the book in a post if it’s relevant to the topics we cover. I know one thing is for sure, if a search engine or company sent us schwag, we would absolutely post a photo of it along with some honest commentary. Does it suck or is it cool? People want to know!
- Be persistent. Don’t be offended or give up if a blogger doesn’t take your story the first time. Be courteous and smart about repeat attempts though. Watch to see if they really do pick up on your story before sending another pitch. Of course, this is not a problem if you actually read their blog.
Here are a number of additional resources on blogger relations and pitching bloggers:
- Pitching Blogs – PRSA
- Blogs, Public Relations and PR Practices – Podcast with Andy Wibbels and Rick Bruner
- How to chat up writers – WebProNews
- How to get bloggers to write about your product – Dave Taylor
- Blogs and Public Relations – Online Marketing Blog
- Press Release Optimization and Blogger Relations – SES San Jose (includes Sally Falkow)
- 7 Tips on Pitching Bloggers – Influential Interactive Marketing
- Tips for PR Workers from the Journalists that Hate Them – Valleywag
- What Journalists Hate in PR People – India PR Blog
- Blogger Relations, Two Tips – Media Guerilla
- Pitch.Me Del.icio.usly – Steve Rubel
- Barging into the Blogger’s Circle – Washington Post
- What Reporters Hate About PR People – David Maister
- Building a Bridge Between PR and the Blogosphere – Blog Forward
- Finding Bloggers in Your Market – Blog Forward
- Blogger Relations for Click.TV – Shel Holtz
- How to suck up to a blogger – Guy Kawasaki
- Top ten things you can do to get blogged – TechCrunch
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective Blog PR – FusionBrand
- Pitching bloggers – Andy Lark
- Pitching Blogs – NewPR Wiki
In case you’ll be attending the DMA06 conference in San Francisco later this month, be sure to check out the session on Blogs, RSS and Podcasting with Dr. Amanda Watlington, BBC co-contributor Stephan Spencer and myself where I will be presenting on using blogs for public relations.