As blogs become more important sources of information and competition for users’ time and attention against mainstream media, many marketers and public relations practitioners continue to stumble about the blogosphere like a bull in a china shop.
Online Marketing Blog gets about 5-10 pitches per week on average, which provides more than enough of a sample on how blogs are getting pitched these days. What’s the verdict? It doesn’t look good.
A few of these pitches are right on or just lucky. Many are simply crap. Some come from friends but never make it to a post. Some are from complete strangers, but are very relevant and get in. Some are borderline where I’m interested, yet I never hear from that company again.
To help pros and flacks alike, here are some pitching guidelines sure to help you resonate with the blogger audience.
- 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, I get pitches about things like online advertising or creative interactive advertising campaigns and if you look at our categories or previous blog posts, we clearly do 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 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. Please don’t do that. 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 to the blogger of the release, and a link to the full version. 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:
- How to chat up writers – WebProNews
- How to get bloggers to write about your product – Dave Taylor
- Blogs and Public Relations – Online Marketing Blog
- 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 (Brian Solis)
- Finding Bloggers in Your Market – Blog Forward (Brian Solis)
- 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
- Pitching bloggers – Andy Lark
- Pitching Blogs – NewPR Wiki
Brian Solis says
Lee, first I wanted to commend you on pulling together a killer link list for this subject.
Second, I wrote the two posts at Blog Forward, “Building a Bridge Between PR and the Blogosphere” and “Finding Bloggers in Your Market,” as a way of helping new and veteran PR pros learn how to expand their value. I’m working on the 4th and 5th installments right now, which are “Effectively reaching bloggers” and “Monitoring for resuts.”
Thank you again for pulling this post together!
Lee Odden says
Thanks Brian, your articles are an excellent contribution to the knowledge in this space. I have made the proper attribution thanks to your comment. Cheers!
Local Guy says
What’s your experience with the paid-to blog services like BlogSpot etc.?
Denise aka The Blog Squad says
Hi Lee, great article. The Blog Squad along with The Publicity Hound just presented a 70 minute teleclass on this very subject and it was a hot topic. We have also posted a few articles about what makes bloggers angry and 15 rules to obey when pitching bloggers. Clearly this is a topic bloggers and all others who want bloggers to blog about their products want to know about. Thanks for keeping the conversation going.
Erica Forrette says
Thanks for a great article. As a new blogger myself, I will eventually be reaching out to other bloggers to drum up interest in my company’s story and products. This etiquette article, and the great list of additional resources to consider, will be of tremendous help! I’ve already printed out the original and bookmarked half the links in your list 😉
Lee Odden says
Hey local guy, the blogspot I’m aware isn’t a paid to blog service.
Thanks for stopping by Denise! I’m looking forward to reading those articles.
Glad it was useful Erica!
Ben K says
I’ve worked in mainstream media (range of regional/national newspapers,) and this advice also works for print publications.
Often we’ll get press releases, or form letters from people trying to raise awareness about an issue or support a candidate. We’re much more likely to print those types of letters if they are personalized, and even more so if they respond to a story or a piece we’ve recently published.
Making it easy is a fantastic tip. It’s much easier for a reporter to get something in under deadline if the organization/company has a press person who’s easily accessible and get comments to you on demand.
Great post, found your blog through digg, look forward to reading more.
Lee Odden says
Thanks Ben K. You know what’s amazing? I’ve been tracking blogger PR resources and articles for over a year and the bad pitching continues as much as it ever was. And you’re right, it applies to mainstream media as well.
Dwight Stickler says
It seems as if the more I read about the subject of pitching journalists or bloggers, who may be considered grass roots journalists; the more amazed I am that people sometimes forget that journalists and bloggers have jobs to do.
In the case of pitching bloggers or journalists, one thing is clear; the easier you make it for your target to include your “news” or “story”; the better.
Everyone including bloggers like it when people make their jobs easier. And it is just common sense to do whatever you can ethically to help a blogger or mainstream journalist do their job easier and better.
I suppose being trained in journalism in college causes me to have an “insider” view of the subject. It is not easy to be a good journalist or blogger.
I congratulate you on being a good blogger and reporter/editor and enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the good work.
Lemi4 aka. fERDI:) says
To Lee re: Local Guy: I think Local Guy is thinking of something like SoulCast etc. Or he may be thinking of ad-supported blogs like Tony Pierce’s Busblog, Dooce, and others employing systems like BlogAds (this reminds me of the Amsterdam Tourism Board’s campaign). Maybe he’s thinking of some micropayment/micropatron full-time experiments like Kottke’s last year.
Or maybe he’s thinking of how to become a full-time blogger, with no other ‘meatspace’ gigs tying him down.
It’d be an interesting subject matter for an essay, I’d think.
Great writeup, Lee. And great link collection too 😉
Lee Odden says
Thanks hobbithob, your article is very insightful. 🙂
Dwight, I appreciate your comments. Out of the new media press release initiative started by SHIFT my PR firm is developing some processes that repackage information and media for the sole goal of making it easier for journalists to do their job. Using our client as a reference of course. 🙂
Just what I needed. Thanks Lee. I am just starting out with learning blogging as a driver for support web businesses. In addition, most of us can benefit from your research and thorough understanding into the workings of blogs, beyond just posting. Your link list is wonderful. The article is definitely a keeper.
Lee Odden says
Glad it was of use Rick.
Lee, this is a good list. I especially think #1 and 2 are important. #4 is useful so long as bloggers are transparent about receiving free items (books) for which they later write about.
Cezanne Huq says
I actually covered Blog Public Relations 101 back in June of 2005 and have been pitching Blogs (slashdot.org) since 2000.
I welcome comments and thoughts:
Bitshelf – Blog Public Relations 101.
Lee Odden says
It’s great that you’ve written an article on the topic, but it’s a bit outdated and difficult to find when searching on the topic at Google. Adding an anchor text link to this post isn’t going to help though, because of nofollow.
Chris Kameir says
Be unique is probably the MOST important factor.
Teofilo Calle says
Hi,Lee this is great article keep helping how to build relations with other people and be interactive,please continue doing the best job thanks.
wish u can give me ideas and teach me how to earn as a blogger
I have a question. If a blogger emailed us for free products but doesn’t give us any information other than a link to his blog and “Want me to write up your shoes for my column? Send me a pair!” – do I take this guy seriously?
Am I right to be a little turned off by that? I doesn’t seem like he is really interested in writing a real review as he is in getting our pricy product for free…I could be wrong on this though
Lee Odden says
Heather, I agree the situation seems suspect. You’d do better to pick bloggers you WANT to write about your product and reach out to them.
Thank you, Lee! I agree about finding the right bloggers with the right blogs, and I will definitely use your helpful guidelines!