Lee Odden

Blogger Relations 101

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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:

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. What’s your experience with the paid-to blog services like BlogSpot etc.?

  4. 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.

  5. 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 😉

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Hi Lee,

    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.

  10. 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.

  11. Great writeup, Lee. And great link collection too 😉

  12. 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. 🙂

  13. 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.

  14. Glad it was of use Rick.

  15. 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.

  16. Folks,

    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.

    Best,
    Cezanne Huq

  17. 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.

  18. Chris Kameir says:

    Be unique is probably the MOST important factor.

  19. 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.

  20. wish u can give me ideas and teach me how to earn as a blogger

  21. Lee,
    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

  22. 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.

  23. Thank you, Lee! I agree about finding the right bloggers with the right blogs, and I will definitely use your helpful guidelines!

    Thanks again!

Trackbacks

  1. How to Pitch a Blogger » BloggerDesign.com : Design Optimization Usability says:

    […] For more information, check out Lee Odden’s fantastic article on Blogger Relations 101. Social BookmarkBlinkBits BlinkList del.icio.us Digg it FeedMarker feedmelinks Furl Gravee Linkroll ma.gnolia Netvouz Onlywire RawSugar reddit Scuttle Shadows Simpy Spurl Yahoo MyWeb Filed under BloggerDesign […]

  2. […] The next part of the presentation touches on blogger relations and offers tips on finding relevant blogs and considerations for pitching them. Many of those tips are described in this post, “Blogger Relations 101“. […]

  3. Forward Blog » Blog Archive » Reaching The Blogosphere Part 4 - Writing and Distributing the News says:

    […] For additional information on Blogger Relations 101, please also visit Lee Oden

  4. […] Example: A friend of mine let me know he posted to Digg a blog post I wrote recently, “Blogger Relations 101“. I took the initiative to then use the form Digg provides on it’s site to invite about 10 people to look at the article summary at Digg. Some of them voted, some of them did not. Within 3 hours the post hit the Digg front page after getting more than 150 votes. The post also hit the del.icio.us popular page with ZERO effort from me. Within 5-6 hours there were over 2500 new unique visitors to my blog all because of one blog post. New traffic continues to roll in. This article would not have gathered attention if it did not have merit. […]

  5. […] Lots of A-list bloggers get pitched daily. Many are getting tired of it, mostly because there’s so many crappy pitches. […]

  6. […] One of the most unexplored opportunities for effective push PR is blogger relations. Pitching bloggers can be a slippery slope, so keep in mind the following considerations: […]

  7. No Ignore - Internet Marketing & Money Making Secrets » Blog Archive » 7 Reasons Not To Waste Your Time Or Money On Linkbait says:

    […] Lee Odden is known throughout the SEO industrys as the Public Relations guru. Lee recently wrote a great write up on how to pitch to bloggers. If you are in the position to do so, hire his consulting firm to launch your first press release and take notes! His blog is choc full of advice and he makes a great habit of responding to messages left on his blog. […]

  8. […] Bloggers are generous with advice about how to get mentioned on blogs, but what about the other way around? How do individuals — bloggers and nonbloggers — get mentioned in print? […]

  9. Internet Marketing ile ilgili 2006′n says:

    […] Blogger Relations 101 (TopRankBlog) […]

  10. Jeremy Toeman’s LIVEdigitally » Blog Archive » For PR People: 10 Thoughts on Improving Blogger Relations says:

    […] It’s not exactly a new topic (see similar suggestions from Ryan Block, Lee Odden, Guy Kawasaki, Mike Arrington, Brian Solis, Tom Foremski, or Ken Yarmosh), but it’s one that I seem to get asked about a lot, so I figured I’d do my own diggbaiting Top Ten List on the topic.  […]

  11. […] As I explained this to the PR rep pitching news about the new Google subsidiary, he seemed to “get this” and was appreciative of the advice. Whether he’ll follow through or not, I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve been giving PR firms and marketers this same advice for over a year and by the looks of most pitches I receive, I’ll need to continue promoting blogger relations tips for another year or more before any real changes are made. […]

  12. How to Best Pitch Bloggers - a Virtual Group Interview : Circular Communication says:

    […] “How should you ideally pitch a blogger if you want something from him?” Leave the hard-hitting hyperbole at home when marketing yourself to authority bloggers. Remember what your mom said about old-fashioned courtesy and kindness. They work especially well in the post-modern blog universe. Roberta Rosenberg Lead with the link. I’m a blogger. I read links. It’s what we do. I might skip the rest of your poorly-written email if there’s a URL at the top with full info about your product or service, and then if it’s interesting, I might even link to that page. Anil Dash 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. Lee Odden Bloggers aim to provide a personal view of the news. They write in conversational style as an antidote to the canned news of traditional media. Why would you send a canned PR-speak pitch? B.L. Ochman Just give ‘em the facts and let the pitch stand on its own. Be proud! If you feel you’re not offering high value information, go back to the drawing board and re slant your pitch until you come up with something truly compelling. Steve Rubel Make it short and sweet: Generally, the shorter and more concise, the better. I don’t need your full 500 word press release. Tell me why I should be interested in 50 words or less, and then link to it. If you can’t communicate why this is worth my time in 50 words, you’re unlikely to be able to do so in 500 words. Jeremy Wright The goal is to build a lasting relationship with people. So reach out to them and sympathize with their problems and find ways that you can help them. Helping people is the best way to build contacts. Nick O’Neill […]

  13. […] In the past I’ve written about blogger relations offering tips on how marketers or PR professionals ought to present their story ideas to bloggers. Pitching bloggers and print journalists are somewhat similar, but in the end, they can be very different things. […]

  14. Social Media Marketing Secrets for Ecommerce - Get Elastic Ecommerce Blog says:

    […] Lee Odden over at TopRank also has a great article on pitching bloggers. […]

  15. Welcome to the Party! says:

    […] Blogger Relations 101  PR Advice for pitching bloggers drew lots of snide comments! […]

  16. […] Rock star bloggers, in post after FLIPPIN’ post, WRITE ARTICLES about appropriate methods to pitch blog content. LOL, Magically, that somehow all goes away if you’re promoting the same blog post in emails to […]

  17. Reputation 101 - How to protect your brand online | Distilled blog says:

    […] Blogger Relations 101 [Top Rank] […]

  18. […] collection of localized examples. Whether it’s PPC trademark issues, engaging legal help or blogger relations, there’s a lot to cover in the hour we have allocated. Moderated by TopRank CEO Lee Odden, […]

  19. […] environment), but these three steps are a good start. For more tips on blogger relations, check out Lee Odden’s excellent primer and work through the links at the […]

  20. […] Later in the week on Thursday I’ll be moderating the “Podcast and Audio Optimization” panel at 10am with Daron Babin and Amanda Watlington. Right after that at 11:15 I speak on a panel, “Beyond Linkbait: Getting Authoritative Online Mentions” with Sally Falkow from Expansion Plus and Chris Boggs from eMergent Marketing plus Sage Lewis moderating. This will be a great session and provide some great tips. My presentation will focus on the “Do’s and Don’ts” of Media Relations and Blogger Relations. […]

  21. How Not To Run A Blogger Relations Program | Gauravonomics Blog says:

    […] available on how to run a blogger relations program — see Guy Kawasaki, Michael Arrington, Lee Odden, Emergence Media (PDF), Brian Solis (PDF), Shift Communications (PDF), Rohit Bhargava (PDF) and […]

  22. […] is to read Lee Odden’s excellent post from back in 2006 but still relevant, aptly titled Blogger Relations 101. He has five tips, well worth reading, under the […]

  23. Darren Rowse on Targeting and Pitching Bloggers says:

    […] Blogger Relations 101 […]

  24. Complete Guide to Pitching Bloggers Using Your Personal Brand « Personal Branding Blog - Dan Schawbel says:

    […] the strategy behind the pitch and the actually content, the less work we have to do to post it. Lee Odden talks about this in more […]

  25. […] Odden has a list of 5 ways to pitch bloggers and Darren Rowse from Pro-Blogger has a 21 tips for pitching bloggers (a bit too much in my […]

  26. […] media and news assets or an integrated Push/Pull PR strategy involving both optimization and media/blogger outreach, new corporate “neural pathways” must be laid in order for companies to realize their […]

  27. […] up a little bit about blogger relations. Learn from experts like Susan Getgood and Brian Solis and Lee Odden (and dozens more). Learn WHO you’re pitching, even just a little […]

  28. What’s so great about bloggers? « im.seeking.balance says:

    […] Relations as a new function of their PR department, they’re going to miss out. Check out Lee Odden’s Blogger Relations 101 if you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about (at the bottom of the entry he also […]

  29. […] Odden’s Blogger Relations 101 Darren Rowse’s How to Pitch to Bloggers: 21 Tips B.L. Ochman’s How to Pitch […]