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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:

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.

View Comments (23)

  • 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.

  • 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.

    Cezanne Huq

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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!

    Thanks again!

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