I dread checking my email sometimes. Outside of my job as a media relations manager at PR Newswire, I’m a local interest blogger. Like most bloggers, my inbox fills up with its fair share of pitches.
Some pitches are fantastic: To the point, clearly familiar with my blog, pitching me something my readers and I care about. Others, not so much.
I read every single one of them, though; all the way through. Even the ones addressed to “Andrea”.
The only reason I don’t hit delete on the bad pitches is because I want to learn from their mistakes. I look at what makes me happy as a blogger, as well as what doesn’t. Then I think about how I can incorporate that into my own blogger outreach.
Here are a few lessons I learned:
1) Start your research on the blogger’s About, Disclosure, and PR pages. These pages are a quick way to discover what the blog is about, whether the blogger accepts pitches, and how to reach them. Many of them also have guidelines on the topics they do and don’t blog about.
2) Then do even more research. In addition to looking at the About page, read blog posts. Dig back a month or so. If the blogger doesn’t write about your topic, post giveaways, or review products, your time is better spent pitching someone who does. Check out their blogroll for ideas on other bloggers you can reach out to.
3) Build the relationship before you pitch. Some pitches have caught my attention solely because I recognized the person’s name. That’s because the pitcher had previously reached out to me either by email or with a comment on my blog.
Next time you’re interested in pitching a blogger, try reading their blog and leaving a comment – not as the brand you represent, but as yourself (no pitching in this initial outreach). A pitch later on may be more likely to catch a blogger’s attention if they recognize your name. Plus, when your pitch says you enjoy reading my blog, I know you’re being honest.
4) Provide advance notice. If you’re pitching an event or have a specific timeline for when you need coverage, don’t wait until the week of. Many bloggers plan their posts in advance. A blogger may make an exception if they have a previous relationship with you (see tip 3), or it’s such an incredible opportunity from a major player in their niche.
However, there is not always time to squeeze in a last minute post. Even if you don’t have all of the details ready for a blog post, pitch the basics with a heads up of when you’re looking for a post. Then ask if the blogger would like the rest of the specifics once they’re finalized.
5) Be clear, but realistic in your ask. If you expect a certain level of commitment from a blogger, communicate that in your conversation, but plan some flexibility to accommodate different bloggers’ availability. For instance, I may not be able to schedule two posts, but I could commit to one post and more social media pushes.
Consider the blogger’s short and long-term value and then decide what you’re ok with in return for the compensation you’re offering.
6) Think beyond the blogger. Know the blog’s audience. Always consider who will be reading a blog post and be careful about overlapping audiences. Don’t oversaturate a particular niche all at once.
Try identifying bloggers from a few different niches that are relevant to your pitch. For instance, a store opening could be pitched to fashion bloggers, local event blogs, lifestyle/personal bloggers, and mom or dad bloggers. Just remember to tailor the angle of your pitch to each individual’s interests. While there may be some overlap, each niche has its own unique audience.
Or spread your campaign over a longer period of time. After you determine the influence level of your target blogs, reach out to a group of high-value influencers, then stagger your outreach to your second and third groups.
Remember that the value of a blogger is not just how large their audience is, but also the relevancy to your brand and how likely it is that they’ll blog about you. A blogger with a smaller audience who is passionate about your brand may be better than a blogger with a massive audience who is not quite the right fit.
7) Be prepared. Be helpful. Short and sweet pitches are fantastic. However, after the pitch, the more resources you have prepared, the better.
When it comes to multimedia, think beyond your brand’s logo; have product shots, event photos, relevant infographics, or embeddable video ready. Similarly, be prepared with hashtags, social media handles, examples of tweets and other social media messaging. Don’t attach everything to your pitch, but offer its availability.
8) The relationship doesn’t stop at the blog post. How a brand interacts after the blog post could help or hurt future outreach just as much as the initial pitch does. A short email thanking the blogger is nice, as is sharing their post (and other posts) on your social media channels.
You don’t need to overwhelm bloggers with a lot of attention; however, the occasional retweet from a brand has helped keep them on my mind months after I blogged about them. Conversely, I try to extend the same courtesy by thanking the brand rep or retweeting their content.
Bonus: An example of good blogger relations.
There are a lot of bad pitches shared online. Instead, here’s an example of blogger relations that left this blogger smiling:
The Katz Club Diner recently opened in Cleveland and is in the process of developing a local coffee program. To build awareness, Emily Richardson of The Katz Club decided to host a blogger meet-up.
Although she had a few dates in mind for a coffee-tasting, her initial pitch was a simple introduction asking bloggers for feedback on what time of day was most convenient to them.
What she learned is that many bloggers were unavailable at a time the restaurant had been considering. Instead of planning an event and then learning no one could attend, Richardson maximized event attendance by engaging with influencers.
By seeking input, being flexible, and giving plenty of advance notice, she demonstrated The Katz Club Diner was honestly interested in what bloggers thought and wanted to work with them.
They were dedicated to building a relationship, which is at the core of all media relations. In turn, I want to build one with them.
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Amanda Hicken is a media relations manager at PR Newswire. You can find her online @ADHicken.