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How NOT to pitch a blog

Posted on Aug 29th, 2007
Written by Lee Odden
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    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.

    Here are a few “what you should not do” tips based on the 3-5 pitches per day we get at Online Marketing Blog:

    • It should go without saying not to pitch irrelevant stories, but all those PR interns out there hacking away make it so. Please don’t.
    • Don’t send a copy and paste email with salutations like, “Dear Nameoftheblog” or some other equivalent to “Hey you” or “Hey Guy”. If you can’t bother to find out the name of the blogger, then your message isn’t really that important.
    • Don’t send blanket solicitations to bloggers in the same general industry. For example, we get pitches from PR firms about major brands running new viral or social media campaigns. That’s great, but what does it have to do with search marketing? We don’t review advertising campaigns here and never have. That’s what AdRants is for.
    • Don’t embargo an announcement for more than a few days. Bloggers are on the move, writing about what comes to mind on a daily basis. Expecting a blogger to keep under wraps news for several weeks is ridiculous. There is no editorial calendar or story board in place with 99% of blogs. Give them something they can act on now.
    • Don’t demand to be covered as if you’re gods gift to the blogosphere. An “assumptive close” might work with phone pitching to print story editors, but not with bloggers.
    • Don’t insult the blogger, even as a joke, especially if you don’t know them. Would you condescendingly ask a stranger for a favor and honestly expect them to do it? Offend a blogger this way and they’ll likely post your sorry ass pitch online for all to see.
    • Don’t lie or make promises you can’t keep. It’s sad but true. Just like tip #1.
    • Don’t send story ideas that are about as exciting as mall music. This is true with regular media relations, so why do it with bloggers?
    • Make sure you have a “do not pitch to” list. For example, a list of competitors that run blogs in your client’s industry. In our case, I can understand because Online Marketing Blog has become pretty popular, but it’s highly unlikely we’re going to run a story about another SEO firm’s recent client win or office expansion.
    • Don’t send a regular pitch with a press release to a blogger. Bloggers don’t typically scan press releases and write stories. They point to press releases hosted elsewhere, or better yet, point to stories other people have written based on a press release.
    • Don’t use traditional media relations tactics with bloggers, but rather, make an effort to connect with them individually. Make relevant comments and offer something of value. Ask them what they want and provide personalized pitches and story ideas that clearly indicate you’ve made an effort to understand what they write about.
    • If you’re going to pre-write the blog post for the blogger, keep in mind their writing style. Don’t overdo it. It’s a risk to take the effort to pre-write a post, but the easier you make it for the blogger, the more likely they may copy and paste what you’ve written and add a few comments. Just provide a nice concise summary of your news with the foresight that the blogger may just copy what you give them. Sandwich that summary with a personalized message and you may just get somewhere.
    • Don’t play bloggers like a numbers game. True, most PR firms count “hits”, so the more blogs that cover the story the more successful the campaign is labeled. However, as there are tier one, two, three etc print publications, the same goes with influence in the blogosphere. I’ll take one story on Boing Boing over 50 unknown blogger mentions any day.
    • Don’t be rude and not thank the blogger for covering your news. If don’t, chances are they’ll just ignore future pitches. If you do send a thank you, there’s a very good chance they’ll be open to future stories. Don’t over do it though. Keep it small, relevant and personal.

    What are some of your blogger relations and pitching “not to do’s”?